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  1. #1
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    Default I disagree with the training scale

    I don't get it -- how can you have rhythm and regularity before straightness? If the horse is crooked how can he maintain the same tempo around a circle? The way I have experienced it is that straightness, self carriage and rhythm all go hand in hand. Is the training scale more designed for uber dressage horses that begin straight and in self carriage? Is where straightness fits in dressage training another difference between the French and German schools, or are they in agreement on this? Thoughts, please.



  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by grayarabpony View Post
    I don't get it -- how can you have rhythm and regularity before straightness?
    May be you are misunderstanding what "rhythm and regularity" is? Paragraph from my article for showing based on the training scale: http://www.dressageart.com/l_dressage_show_advice.htm

    ***Rhythm: Correct, clear rhythm of your horse’s hoof beats shows that you horse is sound and fit as an athlete who belongs in the show ring. Basically, rhythm refers to the horse’s soundness: lame or off horses don’t have a steady, regular rhythm. Horses that are not relaxed, whose muscles are tense will also display an unclear rhythm. As well, some younger horses who simply don’t have enough strength to hold the difficult figures for a long time can start to break their clear rhythm.
    Rhythm is a sequence of footfalls and timing of a pure walk, pure trot, and pure canter. Rhythm should be expressed with energy and suitable, consistent tempo.



  3. #3
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    First of all the training scale is not meant to be seen as linear per se, it is designed to be refered to when looking for the most base cause(s). So, it doesnt mean that there is not relative straightness with the green(er) horse, that is a given. But, the ability to make a horse straight (control the shoulders) come as the horse is steady in tempo/pure in gaits/accepts the bit/sustains the impulsion. ie first the horse works into the outside connection (on circles), is reactive to inside aids and fills out outside (LY) and then can do shoulder fore/shoulder in/renvers.

    And yes, Philipe Karl discusses a different 'take' on the T.S., but I think if he had had his discussion (vis a vie his new book) with someone like von Oppeln-Bronikowski (I have a copy of the TS from him) there would likely have been more agreement than disagreement.
    Last edited by ideayoda; Jun. 18, 2008 at 05:25 PM.
    I.D.E.A. yoda



  4. #4
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    I guess that's my point -- in most green horses straightness is not a given. And a horse cannot maintain a steady tempo if his shoulder is to the inside of a circle, ie he is crooked.



  5. #5
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    I feel a bit defeated before even starting, based on the wording of your post .

    All explanations of the training scale provided by its authors always emphasize that the elements are not created 'one after the other' and that they are not simply linear, and are not completely independent of eachother.

    The advice from the greatest masters always is that things don't develop in isolation and aren't independent fo eachother.

    The arrangement of the training scale shows which elements are more deeply rooted than others, and quite loosely, are 'prerequisites'.

    So the order of the elements isn't that simple, but it does make a lot of sense. For example, it would be hard to imagine a 3rd level horse, collected, doing flying changes and collected canter, and not at all straight or rhythmic. It would be hard ti imagine coming up with a good collected canter before establishing any rhythm or suppleness in previous training.

    It's hard to imagine simply skipping over leg yield (suppling) and just starting right in on piaffe (collection). The horse might piaffe, but the quality of suppleness would be missing, and it would affect ALL the other qualities.

    As far as it was intended, the training scale makes immense sense..

    I do start out each ride establishing a rhythm, then suppling, then collecting my horse. Trainers start out each young horse first establishing a rhythm and suppleness.

    So while the elements are not independent or isolated, much of the 'order' of it is still very valid and useful.

    You say that a horse 'can't be rhythmic without being straight', but he most assuredly can have SOME rhythm while not perfectly straight, that is basically the definition of training and first level, 'Rhythmic, pushing, but not all that straight'.

    and one would establish a rhythm first in each ride.

    In fact, a training level horse cannot be and is not as straight as a Grand Prix horse.

    he is only straight to an extent. The GP horse (if well trained) is straighter, suppler, more through, more rhythmic (Klimke himself said he did not want lower level horses doing freestyles because it forced the rider to demand too regular a tempo from them, and they could not do that without sacrificing other qualities).

    So while there is SOME hierarchy or order to the scale, one NEVER gets to collection and says, 'bravo, I don't have to work on straightness any more' or 'happy day, i can stop working on rhythm from now on'.

    Can a horse be rhythmic and yet not straight?

    Yes.

    In the most basic sense that the horse would not be tearing around on one half of the circle and plodding on the other, before one would start working on straightening the horse. Some very basic control of the rhythm does have to be there first before one can start working on straightening.

    "uber dressage horses that begin straight and in self carriage"

    "uber dressage horses" most empatically do not 'begin straight and in self carriage'. This is a misconception. They have to be taught this like any horse.

    They may not start out with a specific handicap, like one really weak or crooked hind leg, or a heavy, loaded shoulder with a long, massive neck, or an extremely small, weak hind quarter and back. That can HELP the training process. But there will still be a training process.

    Self carriage in the formal sense, above and beyond very basic acceptance of the bit without fighting or pulling, (which some people insist we call 'self carriage'), does not develop until third level or so along with early collection and 'carrying power' of the back and hind legs, which can be seen in how the muscles change shape and increase size in the back and hind quarters.

    No horse, even the best bred and conformed, has 'self carriage' at birth. it is developed through training and expressed by the horse not 'relying on the reins for support' though a horse in self carriage can still take a very frank contact with the reins and be in self carriage.

    Horses with natural balance may have an easier time developing self carriage, but it is developed and trained, not present at birth.
    Last edited by slc2; Jun. 17, 2008 at 04:23 PM.



  6. #6
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    It's more like interlinked circles, with the overlapping areas.

    Some horses are born relaxed, some straight. Some not-so-much.

    I've only very recently (2nd working in 3rd) come to appreciate the connection between suppleness, and impulsion and obedience. Fussy, distracted and tense is as much an obedience problem as it is an impulsion problem. Supple the horse, you'll get back to where you need to be. OR--get him truly forward and obediently on the aids, and the suppleness will follow. OR--deal with the obedience, and then you can expect the suppleness and impulsion.

    And for that horse, the rider setting the rhythm is a huge part of getting those other elements to drop into place...

    not sure if I'm making any sense. But the pyramid example doesn't work for me so much either. The interlinking rings does.
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
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  7. #7
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    I like Jim Graham's theory.

    Forward – defined as the horse be physically pushing from the quarters and be mentally available. How do we encourage horses to be mentally available? Simply by asking questions, putting them in various exercises to enhance the brain!

    Balance! - This is the rider's centered position over the middle of the horse (position for Dressage & Jumping). As for the Horse, we have 3 choices: 1) Level Balance, 2) Downhill Balance, and 3) Uphill Balance. The obvious correct balance is the uphill balance (similar to a motor boat in the water – the stronger it goes the deeper the motor goes into the water while lifting the front of the boat (horse)). This balance takes time to train both the muscling and the brain of the horse to carry uphill.

    Rhythm – While some people have better rhythm than others, so do some horses.

    Supple – Flexibility of the horse and rider to enhance the full potential to work with, rather than against, the impulsion.

    Straight – Just as important as Forward (which is first) but more difficult to ride, teach and judge!



    I love Jim. He's the only other instructor (besides my guy in LA that taught me what no one gets) that gets what I'm doing here.
    He's the ONLY other coach that asked the question: "is your horse strong enough in his lower back to maintain uphill balance?" Rather then just cramming my horse into a fake frame like everyone else wanted to do.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    "uber dressage horses that begin straight and in self carriage"

    "uber dressage horses" most empatically do not 'begin straight and in self carriage'. This is a misconception. They have to be taught this like any horse.

    Self carriage in the formal sense, above and beyond very basic acceptance of the bit without fighting or pulling, (which some people insist we call 'self carriage'), does not develop until third level or so along with early collection and 'carrying power' of the back and hind legs, which can be seen in how the muscles change shape and increase size in the back and hind quarters.

    Even more so sometimes they have to be 'untaught' their way of perma frame and retaught to use their backs correctly, and not just 'look pretty'.
    Horses that are not untaught and retaught this fault will be stuck at 2nd level...or Preliminary level before someone figures out why progression has come to a halt.


    does not develop until third level or so along with early collection and 'carrying power' of the back and hind legs,

    OMG thank you. There are others out there that understand this?
    You mean it helps to body build your horse's lower back as a 4 and 5 year old?
    YES!!
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  9. #9
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    Pintopiaffe I like the idea of the interlocking circles much better than the pyramid too. That makes much more sense to me.

    It seems to me obedience, relaxation and impulsion comes first, because a tense horse can't maintain a steady tempo anymore than a crooked horse can and the two things (tension and crookedness) often go hand in hand.

    Who doesn't work on relaxation, contact, impulsion and straightness all at the same time?



  10. #10
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    The reason I mentioned the uber dressage horse in the first place is that I have a half TB half Han who is straight and has self carriage naturally. His mother had good balance too (especially in the canter) but the fact that he's uphill in all three gaits comes also from his Hanov dad. He's the kind of horse that does 3/4 canter pirouettes and one and two tempi changes in the field for fun. He doesn't need to be untaught or taught anything in that regard; he needs to be trained more in obedience and be allowed to expand under saddle on what he already has.



  11. #11
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    purpleinurple. I love your comment about the horse being strong enough in his back to maintain uphill balance.

    Changed instructors awhile back after just such a discussion.

    Straightness, and relaxation and rhythm are intertwined, as previously stated.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  12. #12
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    "does not develop until third level or so along with early collection and 'carrying power' of the back and hind legs,
    OMG thank you. There are others out there that understand this?
    You mean it helps to body build your horse's lower back as a 4 and 5 year old? "

    I think others do understand this.

    By the time the horse is at third level, he looks like he has boob implants made out of muscle above his stifle(from bringing his hind legs forward under him), a futon on his back, and 'cuts' in hind quarter muscles like a body builder. he is so fit he can maintain a collected trot and canter for over 30 min, and then he needs to develop more to move up.

    the old masters said the horse got more and more beautiful as he moved up. alot of this is due to the muscles that develop across the top of his body.



  13. #13
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    Merrygoround and purplenurpl I agree it takes time for a horse to develop the muscle to carry a rider with self-carriage for, I don't know, say more than 5 minutes. When horses display self-carriage in the field they do it for relatively short periods of time because it's a lot of work. Thank you everyone for your reponses.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by grayarabpony View Post
    Merrygoround and purplenurpl I agree it takes time for a horse to develop the muscle to carry a rider with self-carriage for, I don't know, say more than 5 minutes. When horses display self-carriage in the field they do it for relatively short periods of time because it's a lot of work. Thank you everyone for your reponses.
    You just cannot compare 'doing it in the field' to 'doing it' with a rider on board.

    To me, the training scale is about teaching, guiding & developing your horse ...step by baby step...to do what does come naturally to him ....but.. with a rider on his back.

    And I also like "training circle"...
    Jeepers...how many times do we come 'full circle', back to relaxation and rythmn?!?!?



  15. #15
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    The OP is interchanging rhythm and tempo and they are not the same.
    The training scale is a priority list....
    Make sure nothing you are doing IE trying to straighten a crooked horse interferes with his purity of gaits or....rhythm
    Make sure nothing you are doing trying to straighten a crooked horse interferes with his mental or physical relaxation, and reaching for the bit with his neck and swinging back.
    Make sure nothing you are doing trying to straighten a crooked horse interferes with a steady elastic contact.
    Now straighten your horse while maintaining the correctness of the above items..
    Glossary of terms....
    Rhythm
    The characteristic sequence of footfalls and phases of a given gait. For purposes of dressage, the only correct rhythms are those of the pure walk, pure trot, and pure canter (not those of amble, pace, rack, etc.). [NOTE: Rhythm is sometimes used mistakenly to mean tempo; this usage is not consistent with the correct English definition of "rhythm" (per Webster), nor with its normal usage in the music world.]
    Straightness
    1. Parallelism to required line of travel (e.g. haunches neither left nor right of centerline)
    2. Alignment of body parts appropriate to the task at hand (e.g. not a popped shoulder or twisted neck).
    3. Directness of line of travel (e.g. not weaving).
    Tempo
    Beats per minute, as would be determined by a metronome. [NOTE: Some Europeans use the term "tempo" to refer to what in English is more correctly called Pace.]
    Riding is not a gentle hobby to be picked up and laid down. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.



  16. #16
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    Pretty close.

    "Rhythm" can refer to either of two things.

    The 1-2-3, 1-2-1-2 1-2-3-4 pattern of footfalls for canter, trot and walk (the canter not tending to 4 beats, the trot not 'smearing' into other beats, the walk not headed toward two 'pacey' beats, the canter beats all separated by the same amount of time, etc). This is referred to as a 'correct rhythm'.

    The steadiness of the footfalls.

    In other words, 'rhythm' in the canter, say, can mean both 1.) maintaining a 3 beat canter, and 2.) having a steady number of beats per interval of time. So that if the horse cantered for a minute at 96 beats a minute, every 1 second in that whole minute, you come to 1.6 beats, every ten seconds we can keep finding not more or less than 16 beats, ever 30 seconds we count 48 beats, etc. This is referred to as a 'steady rhythm'.

    Tempo is sometimes used instead of 'rhythm', but 'steady tempo' sounds odd, because tempo refers specifically to a number of beats per a specific time, not how consistent the tempo of different timed samples are.

    'Straightness' does not exactly mean that the haunches must not be off a given line, or the shoulder is not off a line; it means all the footfalls are equally distant from an imaginary 'line of travel', even though the shoulders are less far apart than the haunches.

    Straightness means that whatever the line of travel, curved or straight, the shoulders are directly in front of the haunches.

    The haunches are wider than the shoulders. That means the shoulders always have to be positioned exactly in between the width of the haunches.

    In the case of a curved line, the hoofprints of both the front and hind feet, fall exactly evenly along that curved line. In the case of a straight line, the same.

    We can imagine a car with rear wheels 6 feet apart, and front wheels 3 feet apart. We still align the front wheels so the midpoint of the front axle is directly in front of the midpoint of the back axle. Otherwise we lose power.

    Riding terminology is very rarely the same as the Webster definition. The dictionary is general and does not define special or technical uses of words.



  17. #17
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    Rhythm refers to the purity of the gait, Regularity refers to the evenness of the legnth or height of the steps.
    There is absolute straightness and relative straightness...
    At lower levels the horse should travel with his narrow shoulders exactly in front of his wider hips on straight lines, shoulders are placed exactly in between riders reins with hands equidistant points from withers.
    As the horse progresses towards collection and engagement the inner foreleg is positioned exactly in front of the inner hind leg, this is called riding "in position", just a bit less angle than shoulder fore.
    Riding is not a gentle hobby to be picked up and laid down. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by grayarabpony View Post
    I don't get it -- how can you have rhythm and regularity before straightness? If the horse is crooked how can he maintain the same tempo around a circle? The way I have experienced it is that straightness, self carriage and rhythm all go hand in hand. Is the training scale more designed for uber dressage horses that begin straight and in self carriage? Is where straightness fits in dressage training another difference between the French and German schools, or are they in agreement on this? Thoughts, please.
    First you establish a rythmn and a certain regularity- in the contact and in the paces- then you relax the horse while trying to maintain these qualities- then you stretch the horse while doing so- and soon you'll see that straightness comes because it is a matter of relaxing all body parts- so they just smoothly roll in the movement and straightness will be natural- just like you as a person have a stronger and a weaker side- but once you are warmed up- let's say by swimming in a pleasant pool- your muscles relax and your skeleton can straighten out- and soon you'll be feeling rather even in your whole body- same with the horse...it's a process- not all parts are always perfect or absolute- but as a whole the sequence of the training scale is pretty much correct...nothing however will make it happen that involves trying to force things...patience should be the first step of the training scale....LOL!
    "the man mite be the head but the woman is the neck and the neck can turn the head any way she wants..." -smart greek woman



  19. #19
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    I thought tempo pertained to speed. i.e. a fast tempo or slow tempo. I WISH a relaxed rythmic horse would naturally become straight by softening the muscles, etc. HOWEVER, Since almost all horses are right or left "handed", relaxation merely serves to promote acceptance of the exercises to achieve straightness. Just because I'm relaxed, doesn't mean I could write with my left hand, but I could probably have more patience to learn how. LOL!!



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldschool View Post
    I thought tempo pertained to speed. i.e. a fast tempo or slow tempo. I WISH a relaxed rythmic horse would naturally become straight by softening the muscles, etc. HOWEVER, Since almost all horses are right or left "handed", relaxation merely serves to promote acceptance of the exercises to achieve straightness. Just because I'm relaxed, doesn't mean I could write with my left hand, but I could probably have more patience to learn how. LOL!!
    They actually do become straight- try it...of course you have to have really good feel and be very careful to establish the contact on the 'weak' side...good riding can fix that! (meaning mainly that you yourself as a rider have to be straight...LOL!)
    "the man mite be the head but the woman is the neck and the neck can turn the head any way she wants..." -smart greek woman



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