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Photo of Beaudant in piaffe
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Dorothy
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 Posted: Mon Jul 18th, 2011 05:51 pm
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Hello Dr Deb,

I have recently come across this photo of Beudant, in, I think, the early 1900's. I find the photo fascinating, but I am a bit confused by the caption that suggests that the horse is in piaffe. It looks alot more like passage to me. Am I wrong?

thank you, Dorothy

 

Attachment: Beudant Piaffe.jpg (Downloaded 525 times)

Horse Adventurer
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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 02:28 am
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Is he braced/hollowed out?

Reply from Dr. Deb: Not in the least.



 

Last edited on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 08:46 am by DrDeb

A.S.
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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 04:13 am
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To me it looks like the horse is very much not braced, judging by the soft curve in the rein. Rather, he's bringing his attention (and so his head and ears) back on the rider on his own, constantly thinking "What now?"

And while the horse does seem hollowed, to me this feels like the downmost bend of the spine in preparation to spring back up in the next step - a consequence of true collection and balance, as opposed to the constant hollowness of ersatz collection. Dr. Deb's analogy of the pring of a diving board comes to mind: the horse's spine is bending up and down, not sagging.

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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 06:22 am
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Thank you for that A.S.  Ah ha, yes the loose rein.  But what about the head and neck being so high,  does that not allow for the top line to lengthen?

Reply from Dr. Deb: Son, you need to be reading my series in both Equus Magazine and in The Eclectic Horseman. You would then know more about this, with many different illustrations and photographs given to help your understanding.

Read also my reply to Dorothy's original query, below. -- Dr. Deb

Last edited on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 08:47 am by DrDeb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 09:14 am
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Dorothy, yes, you can't always believe everything that is printed in books. The photo in question shows the horse in passage, not piaffe; and a very deep and expressive passage at that.

The naive viewer, such as "Horse Adventurer" is, who views a photo like this is likely to misinterpret it, for by "naive" I mean "inexperienced". The inexperience of which I speak is not only inexperience with horses, but also inexperience with looking at photos.

For every "still" photo is taken from a moment of actual life. Every "still" photo has, therefore, the effect of freezing a moment of life and "excerpting" it or in a way cutting it out from the stream of motion, or the flow of motion, that the animal was actually producing at the time the photo was taken.

One cannot correctly understand any still photo unless one has the ability to visualize what came before the photo in question and what came after it. One must see the still photo as one frame in a "strip of movie film." The only way to get experience in doing this, and to increase one's ability to see the still photo for what it actually is -- a moment of motion -- is to spend significant time actually analyzing strips of movie film. By "analyzing" I mean looking at the images frame by frame, and actually enlarging the frames and making tracings of the horse's outline as shown in each frame. You do this enough and you will gain the true eye and an accurate, rather than a naive, perception of what the still photo means -- because you will then be able to put it in context properly, whether you possess the actual strip of film or just the single photo.

It is from this that we are able to say, yes, this is a photo of a horse in passage.

It is from this also that we are able to affirm that there is, when the horse is really swinging along elastically in a passage, a certain moment when the animal's back is at its highest, and another certain moment when it is at its lowest or "hollowest". There is absolutely nothing wrong with this: it demonstrates that the horse, in expressing himself in this dancing motion, moves his back fluidly through its whole up-down range of motion. Mind you, this is not a movement which should be asked of a green horse -- though green horses, and horses at liberty, fairly often produce it. The reason we don't ask this right away under saddle is that it takes considerable strength for the ridden horse to perform, that is, strength to "recover" the collected or high posture of the back after each downswing.

The passage, more than any other trained movement except the Spanish Trot or "stretch passage", calls for this elastic up-down range of back motion. If the back motion is not there, the passage will lack expressiveness and scope, for, as I have taught for years, unless there is limb pathology, back dynamics govern limb dynamics.

What I am telling you is that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with seeing a horse, when in passage, go through a moment when its back swings all the way down; for in the next moment, it will swing all the way up again.

What we want to avoid, and what we object to, is what we see generally in gaited-breed competition in the U.S., and in the "park" and "English pleasure" classes: horses whose backs are hollow all the time -- the back does not elastically swing. There you may also see loose reins (not draping, but loose), for the horse will have been bitting-rigged as a part of its training, before the photo was taken, in order to "set" the head and neck in a high position, which in itself tends to make it difficult for the horse to raise its back and thus perpetuates and encourages a hollow back. Bitting-rigged horses may also have very high knee action and sharp hock action, due not only to the back held continuously in the "down" position, but also to training the limbs by various means. It is because the limb action does not flow from the back dynamics -- which as I said are lacking -- that we call the means used to produce high action "artificial."

Rarely is good High School work, such as Beaudant was able to do, seen anywhere anymore; and thus it is not surprising that people would get mixed up as to what the old photo shows. They are critical not only because they have no experience with film analysis, but also because they don't know good work when they see it. You will see work of much the same quality and style as Beaudant's if you look at the famous picture of Tom Bass and his American Saddlebred mare, and at contemporary engravings (sufficiently accurate) of Francois Baucher. The predominant influence on American High School training throughout the middle and latter parts of the 19th century was Baucher, and that is what Saddle Seat "show styles" today actually are -- a degenerate form of Baucherism. -- Dr. Deb

Dorothy
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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 02:22 pm
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thank you Dr Deb.

It is perhaps unfortunate that photographs of passage always seem to be shown at this phase of the stride in the 'extension' moment.

I  have another question, given that this is essentially the extreme of extension of the spine, and uncoiling of the loin, is it normal then to see the hocks so much behind the point of the buttock?

Dorothy

Last edited on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 02:23 pm by Dorothy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 05:59 pm
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Dorothy, it is because of the position of the hocks relative to a plumb line dropped from the point of buttock that we know that this is passage rather than piaffe. In passage, the horse travels forward a significant amount with each step. Therefore, there must be a moment when the body comes in front of the hocks.

How we know that this horse is properly collected is by looking at the amount of bend in the major joints of the hind limb, and the degree to which he is therefore 'sitting down' even as he moves -- he maintains a good deal of bend in the hind joints even as he enters the 'extended' phase of the gait. He moves out of a great depth of coiling of all the hindlimb joints -- like a cat stalking and always about to spring -- like an excellent shortstop ready at any moment to move toward the ball no matter where the batter hits it.

And again, exactly as in our assessment of what the back is doing, we remain aware that, even after (several "frames" or milliseconds hence) the horse fully opens all the hind joints, and thereafter when the right hind foot comes out of contact with the ground -- he will immediately re-coil the hindlimb, even as he brings it forward.

This we know by looking at the position of the contacting hind foot (the right hind foot) in the photo in question. One sees that, even though it is late in the stride -- the lifted forefoot is already unfolding to reach forward -- the contacting hind foot is not, in fact, at all behind the point of buttock. Get a ruler and look! You will find that the plumb line dropped from p.o.b. splits the hock in half.

This observation in turn leads us to conclude that the point at which the contacting hind limb will reach its maximum extension -- the farthest behind the p.o.b. that it will get before it is picked up -- will not be farther back than where the terminal end of the rainbow tail points; indeed, I would bet that it would be within the arc of the rainbow.

What we hate to see, and what we object to -- just as with assessment of the back dynamics -- is that the contacting hind foot is still in contact with the ground behind the tailbone, and/or that, when it is picked up, swung forward, and set down again, it will be set down behind a plumb line dropped from the hip socket. When, by contrast, Beaudant's horse picks up the contacting hind foot, swings it forward, and sets it down, it will be set down ahead of the hip socket, indeed at a point which lies 50% of the distance between the hip socket and the point of hip. With this horse, therefore, the 'track' or 'arc' of support provided by the contacting hind foot lies mostly under the pelvis, whereas in a horse moving 'hollow' or 'moving like a chicken', the chicken-y look is produced precisely because most of the rotation of the hind limb occurs behind the pelvis. This is possible, of course, only because the hollow animal is actually not coiling its loins, which means it is travelling on the forehand: it is support displaced to, and provided by, the forelimbs which enable the hind limbs to shrug off some of their proper weightbearing role.

That leads us to observe another way to tell that Beaudant's horse is moving beautifully: note that, again as late in the stride as this is, the contacting forelimb is nearly plumb vertical. This allows us to know that it will soon be picked up, i.e. before it lies beneath the girth. Look at photos of the current crop of dressage competitors and you will see horse after horse -- whether they are in extended trot or in the peculiar extension of stride combined with 'bounce' which is passage -- with most of the horse's weight upon the contacting forelimb, i.e. the fore hoof in contact with the ground will lie far behind the girth, and the forelimb itself will be at a very slanting angle -- not vertical -- at the same point in the stride as we see in this photo.

I am hopeful that this discussion will be helpful to other people reading this thread as well as yourself, Dorothy, because what I am mainly doing here is telling you what to look at in the photo to obtain the information that matters. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

Dorothy
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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 06:05 pm
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thank you for this detail, it is very thought provoking, I shall go and look for other passage pictures.....

Dorothy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 06:08 pm
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Dorothy, look at the photo of Arthur Konyot riding his American Saddlebred stallion "The Colonel" which I have recently reprinted in both Equus Magazine and in The Eclectic Horseman. -- Dr. Deb

Dorothy
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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 06:12 pm
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I will do.

It would be interesting to see a stride of passage frame by frame. I don't have the camera power for this, I wonder if you or any other readers do?

Dorothy

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 Posted: Tue Jul 19th, 2011 06:12 pm
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Thank you Dorothy for bringing this up, and thank you Dr. Deb for teaching us what to look at and for. This is absolutely fascinating.

Dianne Olds Rossi
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 Posted: Wed Jul 20th, 2011 05:15 pm
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Dr Deb so wonderful to see that you posted a picture of Arthur Konyot. I was able to train with both Arthur and Dorita when I was younger. I was able to see Arthur perform and showed along with him for a year.

Also glad to see that you are comparing our present show horses and how they are trained compared to a good High School horse which is few and far between. Many try but few succeed.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Jul 20th, 2011 05:52 pm
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Dianne, if you have other photos of Pop Konyot, Dorita Konyot, or their students -- we would LOVE to see 'em. Thanks for writing in. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Thu Jul 21st, 2011 08:26 pm
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DrDeb,
What is the significance of the timing of the hoof-strikedowns? Should the ideal be that the horse sets down diagonal feet at the same time as far as passage, piaffe is concerned? I can see that the left forelimb is fully-weightbearing, whereas the right hindlimb is going to take more weight in the fraction of second, which means the left forefoot will be picked up sooner.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jul 21st, 2011 09:29 pm
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Ola, that's right, the left forefoot will be picked up sooner. And here is what that means: it means that the horse is light. This is what 'lightness' means: that the animal bears less weight upon the forehand than he would if standing still. That means he stands upon either forelimb for less time. This can be over the entire range, from "slightly less time" (which necessarily means "slightly less weight") to "none at all". When we reach "none at all," the horse is in levade.

It also means that, if he does this to any degree less than levade, the footfall sequence will not be "purely" two-beat. This is where we get insight into the rigid-mindedness and perverted ideas of Nazis: because Nazis regarded themselves as the Guardians of Purity. They were going to be 'racially pure,' as if there could be such a thing within the human family (we are all descended from one population of African Australopithecines -- or from Adam and Eve, if you prefer to talk about it in those terms). The modern-day child of this mode of thinking, as manifested in competitive dressage, is that they see themselves as the Guardians of Purity of Gait. Even if such a thing were possible, I laugh to say, they are certainly not doing that, as it is easy to see in almost any photo of a dressage competitor (especially in the extended gaits).

What I mean by this laughter, is that the non-two-beatness, i.e. the four-beatness, of so many of their extended so-called "trot" performances is of a form that declares the horse to be on the forehand. For there are two ways in which a "two-beat" gait can be broken up into four beats: one is to tilt the body forward and hollow the back (which produces what in Latin America is called 'trocha' and commonly in North America is called 'fox trot', a mispronunciation of the French 'faux trot' or 'false trot'; called by LaGueriniere in the 18th century 'aubin'). The other way is to tilt the body backwards and raise the back, which is what we see in the photo of Beaudant above.

Now, Ola, you may already have known that this is an old controversy in Europe, i.e. whether it is OK or "korekt" if we spell it in pseudo-German, for a supposed two-beat gait to break up into four beats. Very large amounts of smoke have been expended on this question among Europeans; if you want to see a good exposition of the question, look in Erik Hebermann's "The Dressage Formula", where he presents photos of the phenomenon. Despite this, however, I think even Hebermann does not know quite what to do with it. I do, however, know what to do with it: and that is, to love it when it occurs because the horse sits down, raises his back, properly arches his neck, and goes to the bit in such a manner that he throws the reins back to the rider, creating them as draping: again, just as we see in the above photo of Beaudant. If it occurs in any other manner, then what to do with it is work to teach the horse to move better and not go on the forehand.

Among those addicted to arguing, the phenomenon we are talking about is sometimes called 'over-rotation of the forequarter' or 'over-rotation of the hindquarter' (depending whether the horse sits down and carries himself properly, or else tilts forward, shifting much of the effort of locomotion onto the forelimbs). As well as among bad competitive dressage horses, the phenomenon is common at the harness track, where it sometimes causes controversy of another sort, vis., as to whether a given animal is 'breaking gait' and thus should be disqualified from winning a race.

The more the horse becomes able to use the whole up-down range of motion of his back -- so that he is able, no matter how low the back swings downward during the 'downward' or extended portion of the stride -- to recover back to at least the 'neutral' position with each step; I say, the more he is able to do this, the more he will be able to stay "on the hindquarter", locomoting primarily or even exclusively by weighting and then thrusting upward and forward from his hind limbs. Passage comes close to demanding all that a horse can give in this area, because passage is a 'collected extended' gait, i.e. to produce it the horse must use the full range of motion of his back. In other words, it is not easy for a horse to keep the loins coiled and the hind joints flexed through those moments when the back swings into its lowest position. It is the horse's very elasticity, and the peculiar strength of the 'core' musculature -- which must be developed -- which permits him to recover the 'up' position of his back with each half-stride.

As I say, the passage demands much, but passage is not the terminal end of all that is possible. Some horses can go beyond passage into 'stretch passage' or Spanish Trot -- in which the horse, while continuing to locomote almost exclusively from the hind limbs, 'over-rotates' the forehand so much that the forefeet, though they cycle through the air, hardly touch the ground. The forelimb 'action' in this case is extravagant -- forward-reaching and 'climbey' or high, so that the fore hoofs (not the knees) reach breast-height or even higher, and the forearm is extended to or above the horizontal. The 'suspension' of each forelimb is prolonged, and can be prolonged, because (again) time = weight, and all the weight or nearly all of it is being borne by the hind limbs.

When the horse performs Spanish Trot, his back and whole body undulate elastically up and down, as in Passage; but at an extreme, the horse might as well not even have forelegs, for he hardly needs them in order to progress forward. In the Spanish Trot, the horse in fact walks on two hind legs, in a loin-coiled and semi-squatting posture, while reaching maximally upward and forward with the forelimbs.

Other names for this gait are, in Latin American countries, the 'sobreandando' or 'super-walk', and in North America (you guessed it) this is what the Running Walk originally was, when practiced by Baucheristes, before the art here became entirely degenerate. The Sobreandando relates to the Trocha as the Running Walk relates to the Fox (false) trot; all four are four-beat gaits, but only Sobreandando and Running Walk would be something a knowledgeable trainer would want to concern herself with, because only they come from the correct dynamic functioning of the horse's spine. -- Dr. Deb

 


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