"A horse is like a mirror, and it's reflecting what and who you are."

This is just a little diary of my horse life. I teach natural horsemanship and dressage. I am currently working on getting back to L4 Parelli after a car accident and surgery.

I suffered from a fear of failure, as things had not gone according to planned after my time off from my injuries. It had been an paralyzing disability (fear) but my healing is coming along nicely, and I hope to pass my level 4 before the end of 2011.

I don't know where I am going, but I am NOT lost!

I am now reviewing dvd's and books, and blogging my reviews. The link on the left in the categories (DVD Clinician Reviews)will take you straight to it. You will find links to the websites of all dvd clinicians I review and they are located on the left hand side bottom of page of the page. None of the clinicians or trainers I am reviewing, sponsor, endorse or authorize this site. For more info about them please click on thier link.

I hope you enjoy!

Savvy On,

I will be giving Savvy Star Ratings based soley on my opinion of it's value to a parelli student as such

***** Must own

**** Must watch

*** Worth watching, but you won't die without it

** Eh' take it with a grain of salt, you will have to filter alot

* OK, but there is better stuff out there to spend your time and money on

0 stars....skip it, it just isn't worth your time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Do you REALLY know what Rhythm is?

Do you know the difference between Rhythm and Tempo? We’ve all heard (god I hope we have) that walk is a 4 beat gait, trot a 2 beat gait and canter a 3 beat gait. And we hear the three “R’s” rhythm, relaxation, retreat. But do you REALLY know what RHYTHM is? In my experience in the ‘natural’ world…..the answer is….probably not. You may know someone else’s definition based on ‘their’ overall goal….which is actually…..TEMPO. And also interchangeably use ‘purity of gait’

The greener our eyes are, the bigger we need the picture to be, in order to ‘get’ something. So it is easy for someone to say…..rhythm….in exchange for tempo…when talking about ‘behavior’ and ‘emotions’ in a horse. Or a green horse just learning to ‘rate’ his speed. So we wouldn’t want to see his canter go quickly then slowly then quickly then slowly…..we would like him to be consistent…..but this is actually TEMPO. So unfortunately we don’t, in the end understand and thus incorrectly use the term ‘rhythm’ for ‘tempo’ but it served it’s purpose of helping us identify and correct emotional inconsistencies in our horse, or helping a very green horse get his very basic bearings about himself.

However, in Dressage, Rhythm is a core element, and inconsistencies will cost you big time. It is suppose to be TABOO to cause irregular gaits….ie: RHYTHM…..but they take a fine eye and ear to recognize…..so it would be prudent to REALLY know what it is, what is correct, and what would be considered a crime against nature.

Rhythm: Unconstrained, forward flow of energy through “well timed” steps

Rhythm is the pattern of the beats of the gait….2 beat trot, 3 beat canter and 4 beat walk. It should be even and consistent. It isn’t the ‘beat’ in so much as it is the amount of time ‘between’ the beats….that defines the RHYTHM. We tend to think of the trot as 1-2 1-2- 1-2…. So to define the ‘even’ part….what you need to know is that the time between footfalls should be perfectly even, and it is helpful to think of it as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8….which 4 strides of trot.

If you counted out loud as your horse trotted along…..

that is exactly what you should hear….1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8……..NOT…..1-—2-3-—4-5-—6-7—8.

Same for the walk there, which is the easiest gait to screw up and cause an ambling or shuffling as described above….mainly from too much contact not enough engagement. The trot however is usually screwed up by posting. So when posting, you should think of an imaginary saddle seat hovering over the pommel. You should be spending just as much time with your ‘front’ on the imaginary saddle as you do with your ‘back’ in the real saddle….and the time in between, spent rising, should be equal to the time in between, spent falling. Usually this is the reason for lack of even rhythm in the trot gait. Do it for too long, and you make it a habit hard to break for you and your horse. Now the canter is a whole ‘nuther story. While it is a 3 beat gait, we must remember there is a suspension phase as well, with it’s own ‘beat’ so to speak. Making the canter kind of like a 4 beat gait…..for the purposes of explaining the canter rhythm…………at least if you want your horse to not be totally flat with no elevation or space of time between strides. So a canter rhythm would be like this….. 123-123-123-123……..not 123123123123123…so it might be helpful to go ahead and count out the suspension beat like this 123s123s123s123s123s123s or how I like to do it….123412341234. The longer the suspension phase….the more uphill, springy, engaged, etc the canter will be.

Let’s talk about SERIOUS deviations of purity of gait. These are things you will see caused by such things as Rolkur and again serious lack of impulsion or odd mix of collection/impulsion….this is where the trot becomes a 4 beat gait because of diagonal pair of legs not hitting the ground simultaneously….or the canter becomes a 4 beat gait such as in the often seen 4 beat ‘pirouette’ where the horse is rearing on two hind legs, swings his torso over, then places his front feet down separately…..that is NOT a canter. This would be caused by focusing too much doing the pirouette on the ‘spot’ rather than focusing on keeping the gait pure (3 clear beats) and sacrificing the ‘spot’. As I said in the beginning, it is ‘suppose’ to be taboo to lose purity of gait or have an irregular rhythm. It is suppose to be taboo to not have the poll the highest spot, and taboo to have the nose behind the vertical….yet we almost exclusively see all these deviations from the most elite in the sport. Adhering to “Winning” above basic cardinal principles….will be nothing more than sacrifice at your horse’s expense.

So now that you know WHAT rhythm is and isn’t, let’t talk about TEMPO again. Because lets face it 1---2-3---4-5---6-7---8 IS a rhythm, it just isn’t an even rhythm or the one we are looking for…..it is an irregular rhythm.

So lets say you have a trot…..1---2---3---4---5---6 as your regular working trot….when you shorten or lengthen the stride…this will shorten….1-2-3-4-5-6 or lengthen 1-------2-------3-------4-------5-------6 but see how it stayed regular and even and consistent….if you ever got 123456…..your horse will likely to be found….on the forehand, strung out, emotionally scattered. Time needs to be spent doing lots of half halts and lots of cavaletti work.

Remember, while we want a canter to have a well defined suspension ‘beat’, we do not want him to move like Pepe Le Pew 123--------------123-------

Hope this has help clear up any confusion about what Rhythm really is……and don’t worry……with this knowledge, despite what Gloria Estephan says….the Rhythm isn’t “Gonna getcha’”

Savvy On


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