...Holstein breeds for the canter, and they are famous for canters. But they do not breed for the gallop, and the excellent canter might mean that the gallop is subpar.
This comment in the KK thread got me thinking about the gallop and what a subpar gallop looks like and what a makes a quality gallop. Is it the amount of ground covered or balance, or...? Are there any video examples that folks can direct me to so that I can 'get it'?
LOL, I can't imagine a horse with a lovely, uphill, powerful, round canter giving a poor performance at the gallop. After all, an engine is the, ehr, engine behind the gallop and if he can reach under himself so sublimely at the canter that he is admired for it, it actually probably isn't all that wonderful after all, if he can't extend and lengthen to move out cross country. I think its an odd statement, and frankly full of baloney. But that's just me.
Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.
I don't have video, but I understand the concept, especially having conditioned my TB next to a well-bred warmblood cross with very fancy flatwork but a subpar gallop. The other horse won everything with his great movement and great jumping technique, but by the time he reached the two-star level, making the time XC had become a challenge. Galloping a TB next to him, you could see why: He had so much suspension in his movement that he looked like a porpoise when he galloped, making a big arcing leap with each stride and using energy to go UP instead of FORWARD. By comparison, the TB was much more efficient, staying closer and lower to the ground and easily propelling himself forward.
However, looking at the big picture, that TB could gallop easily but had nowhere near the competition record of his warmblood-cross stablemate, and the difference in their galloping skills wouldn't really have become apparent until advanced. How important is that to most riders? I think the whole package the warmblood offered through all the lower levels would have made him the preferred horse for most riders despite the "subpar" gallop.
I still don't get why he would have a 'subpar' gallop - after WWII from what I understand, the holsteiner was crossed with TBs to refine features and improve gallop - I still think it would be a matter of training.
Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.
Thanks NT and Hilary for the descriptions. I used to go for gallops on my 16.0 hand TB with a friend who was on an 18.2 hand Hanoverian. My guy would leave the WB in the dust and I felt it was that they were spending time going up and down instead of forward. A good gallop is defined by forward movement but still working under from behind?
I think someone mentioned after spectating at WEG about efficient gallops, the energy required to jump and how fit the horses looked when they finished. The horses with more efficient gallops, IIRC Comet was noted, looked much better crossing the finish than those that didn't. If a horse isn't naturally balanced at the gallop, it's going to be spending more energy galloping which could lead to jumping (from being tired) and time faults.
I would also think an efficient gallop would also denote good conformation and less soundness issues because they are not pounding away so hard/fast/as much as others. Think of rpms in a car, more rpms means less fuel efficiency and more wear and tear on engine parts. Look at Seabiscuit, who had a weird choppy gallop at first before he had his injury. He couldn't stab the ground anymore once he recovered, so his gallop became more fluid and efficient which may be why he finally won the Santa Anita.
Chico propells himself UP and Forward, while the galloping horse above propels himself Forward, with little up. Ground covering vs suspension, efficient flat speed vs upward energy and suspension. Which might get tired on a 10 mile gallop first with equal fitness? Which might get to the end fastest? Which would recover quickest? Which feet, bones, tendons and ligaments would take the most pounding? etc.
Its a generalization to say a TB has a better gallop than a Holstiener, but it is more likely to be the case, when it comes to ENDURANCE and EFFICIENCY. Kind of like saying a Greyhound can run better than a bulldog, and more efficiently. There are exceptions of course, but overall, your chances are higher with the Greyhound, the farther you make them run, and the faster you want to go.
Eventing was dominated by the TB while the Classic Format was used. There was a reason for it.....
I'm sure others will add some even more descriptive examples.
Tune in to your horse racing channel....and watch a few races...especially those longer than 5-6 furlongs. While the track's cameras don't give quality close-ups and have more of a downward view of the fields, at times the better tracks have more than one camera angle, and sometimes use the lower view of the horses. (Big races with lots of media like the Derby, etc. often use alternative, closer-to-the-ground camera views.) These give some terrific live action streams of the galloping gait.
I guess it bears repeating here that the Thoroughbred has the greatest gallop on the planet; and you don't have to go back very far in very many good warmblood event horse pedigrees to find some Thoroughbred. The good judges I've scribed for at YEH have educated me a great deal on a good event horse gallop. I've had one judge even ask a rider to perform it AGAIN on a young horse so she could get the best view of the gait before judging it. When possible, I've noted they use a slight uphill, long straightaway for this, so that it's easy to see the best balance possible. Watching a great three star event like Fair Hill (with the hills up and down) is another great observation opportunity, because you see how these trained and fit horses do the downhill balancing to get to the fences.
And I would like to add that a bad gallop isn't necessarily churning short strides. A hollow, flailing horse can gallop poorly with a big long stride slapping the ground and pulling themselves with the front end while not engaging the hind end.
Where the head and neck are makes a difference in the balance. A lowered head and downward pitch changes the balance from a horse that is "up in the bridle". A horse uses the head and neck to pump the front end off the ground especially when they get tired. A horse pushing from behind is less tired, and that is why you get the feeling they are moving easily underneath you into your hand. When it gets harder for them to gallop, you'll feel more in your hand and more movement in front of the saddle to keep up with.
Watching, and then riding and experimenting with speed, is the only way to really feel this.
Galloping a horse is one of the greatest things in all sports, in my opinion, but that's just because I'm pretty certifiable.
Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
All of which lead to many questions about courses for horses and horses for courses.
If the FEI would abolish the extra bonus for dressage that is built into the dressage coefficient, horses with more extravagant dressage movement would have less of an advantage going into XC. Horses with more efficient movement would be more sought after than they are now. Dressage scoring in eventing should be more on the precision of the test than the extravagance of the gaits. But if it is judged the same way as pure dressage is these days, extravagance gets extra points, regardless of its XC utility.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire
Watch any steeplechase race (especially the longer ones across the pond) and you'll see examples of good galloping horses. There are many "styles" that are efficient--Spectacular Bid had a great turn of foot (quick off the ground and back) while Secretariat had an enormous length of stride. Both were very well -balanced horses in full flight but side by side, would look very different.
In the long format days the Out and About (long full stride) horse and quick turn of foot (Jacob Two Two) horse both found success. This age of the short format, IMHO, has changed what is efficient--and what is not. Today's upper level horses need a combination of pure strength and balance to go from 350 to 700 mpm often, and then stay at "cruising" speed. That opens the door wider for some cross-bred horses.
You can teach some of it, to some degree, so they find better efficiencies and balance (using the back end) but many good galloping traits are a result of conformation in motion.
For instance, my horse is very long legged and short backed (Storm Cat bred). When he raced, he would actually catch the outer edge of his front hooves on the inside of his hind legs. He's spent a lot of time on the side of a hill. While his gallop is now more balanced, and therefore more efficient, his gallop will limit him from the upper levels.
I guess what I'm trying to say is judge the horse, not the breed, or the registry. Teddy was super fast at changes of speed due in part to his conformation in motion. And then, factor in what you require in terms of how far you want to go, and what you are willing to do to get there in the sport.