Well I don't have video examples, but a horse can be fast but not have a great gallop.
To me, a good/great gallop is naturally uphill and should feel and look effortless. You barely hear the horse as they float past you and the rider can rebalance by sitting up a stride out from the fence. The stride covers a lot of ground so you need fewer strides to get from A to B - small horses can have big strides/big horses can have small strides.
The not so good gallops are strung out, on the forehand and heavy - they are fast b/c the legs move fast, rather than cover a lot of ground. You just don't get the sense that the horse is ready to jump something without a lot of re-balancing. (rider sits down 6 strides out and the half-halts remove molars). And you feel them coming because the ground shakes.
Not the best video because Kate never really let him open up at this event but this horse got a perfect score for his gallop when he competed in the YEH championships.
He was just coming back from an injury in this event so still wasn't super fit yet....but he does have a very good gallop--you can catch a quick sense of it in the video in spots where she lets him go on (toward the end). It is really fun to sit on...but he can get really strong.
In my experience competing in the YEH classes...they want a free big stride. You really need to open them up and let them fly to get the good score. They are not judging the adjustability of their gallop yet. So it is more the quality of the gait than really whether the horse will be fast on course (that is more adjustability). A horse with a big gallop like Muggle is what they were scoring well. He's he type of horse you want on a big open course....he would have loved phase B of the old long format....
I always thought Teddy O'Connor had a nice gallop. I also like Sir Rockstar's gallop.
I agree that a good gallop for eventing shouldn't be on the forehand but I think a really uphill gallop that doesn't cover ground and looks like the horse is climbing all the time is also a bad gallop for eventing.
Any updates to this? I still don't feel like I have a good picture...seems like something people talk about but can't teach.
Well here is a video of Muggle at a CIC 3*. Nilson does let him out more in this video. I think they were the or one of the fastest xc in their division. This was maybe his 3rd Advanced event. Skip to past 8 minutes almost to 9 on this video to see galloping. I'm showing this because this he scored very well in the YEH classes (a 10). I do think there are many different gallops that can be very good. But I can say from sitting on this horse, he covers a lot of ground very fast and easily (very efficient). The initial issue was rideability though...gettting him back. But that has improved a ton and gets better all the time. He pulled up from his first CCI3* extremely well. He had a run out (more rider error) late on course--but without that would have been fairly close to making the time (he had fewer time penalities than a lot of horses who had jumped clean finishing just 38 seconds over OT). Recovered very fast and was WILD on Sunday (very fresh). So I think they got it right at least with respect to his gallop when they judged him at the YEH finals. His TB dam had about 100 starts as a race horse and retired sound...I think he got his gallop from her.
Another bad video of a good gallop: http://youtu.be/SUngaLM1hhY (gallop begins at 2:45)
That's my then 5 y/o at a YEH competition. He earned 9 for gallop.
Ranger has a HUGE ground covering stride when he opens up. He has good push from behind, without excess hock action to waste energy. Enough elevation in front for good reach, but again not too much up-and-down motion.
Oh, and how does it feel? Like a speed boat skimming across flat water. SMOOTH but incredibly powerful, fast, and strong. I rarely ever let him out, because it's just excessive up to training level and we haven't learned to control it properly yet. But if I exhale and relax in the wide open, he flattens out and GOES. He has what DOC calls "5th gear" to make time at the upper levels. I'm looking forward to going prelim soon where I can let him out a notch for more than 5 strides at a time.
“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
? Albert Einstein
This is what I like in a gallop. The type of horse that can really stretch out and you can allow him to have his neck but comes back easily when needed and is balanced enough to jump out of stride without a lot of work. You just kind of float on top of the horse, sit and drive or collect and hold when you need to. I guess the best gallop is big and adjustable and floaty and open. Big enough to get you home in time without constantly having to chase the time. He kind of falls into this big gallop so easily, it's where he wants to be, it's not where Buck is forcing him to be.
I guess maybe teaching from the side of developing forward and open first, and developing rhythm when forward and open. And then from there teach the horse to be rateable as you get near a jump. Come to the log to log one stride, collect, jump them and gallop off on a long rein reinforcing forward and open. And then work on the gallop fences, collect just enough to get the lift needed to clear the fence, and then again jump and gallop off on the long rein. Go go go!
This is the type of gallop I dislike. It's very choppy and not rateable at all. She's not being allowed to use her neck as part of her gallop movement (most likely because she would take off), which shortens the stride immensely. She also loses a lot of time having to fight to control the horse before the jumps and through the combinations. Whereas Buck was floating a lot more atop his mount, Hawley is working a lot harder atop hers. This horse definitely improves as the course goes on, I would say she could have used roads and tracks and steeplechase to cool her jets a little. I would also like to note that this video is old and her gallop has improved since this event but I'd still like to see tons of improvement in her adjustability on the cross country course and move allowing with the horses neck in the gallop (again, if the mare won't run off).
David O'Connor spoke at the Young Event Horse Open Forum last year at the convention about the importance of the gallop in an event horse. He used video of three different 4 star horses to compare and contrasts styles of gallop and to talk about what is good and what's not so good. I wasn't there but saw it on video and now can't find it. If you dig it's out there and I'd highly recommend it.
Here's what the USEA site says about the discussion in its wrap-up:
"He also discussed, in addition to video clips, the importance of the gallop in a four-star horse. Dissecting clips from Rolex Kentucky of Sinead Halpin’s Manoir de Carneville, Lynn Symansky’s Donner, and Andrew Nicholson’s ride on Quimbo, David discussed the stamina of the horses and how the gallop, even near the end of the course, needs to be a pushing gallop off of the hind legs, rather than a pulling gallop with the front legs. The horses that have up-and-down gallops may be great in the show jumping, but due to the inefficiency of that kind of gallop, may not be able to sustain speed over an 11-minute course. Pulling on the front legs also makes those horses more prone to injury."