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French School "Workshop!"

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  • #61
    My riding report: Tried counted walk--at least as I conceive of it--today on a horse I hadn't done it on before. In fact I haven't tried it in a long time on any horse, so I refreshed myself with JCR's description and went out there (alone, in secret! ) and gave it a shot.

    I use a clicker, so it was very easy to teach this horse what I wanted from very light aids. Whether what I wanted was correct or not, I wish I knew. I guess if I ever get a chance to show it to someone who might know, I'll come out of the closet.

    In any case, he did go from slopping around falling all over his shoulders in warm-up to standing up, taking very light, slow, careful steps in a STRAIGHT line on the quarter line. Definitely not on the forehand or any LDR offered--and this is a horse that will duck down in a moment given a chance.

    I also noticed he was chewing. He was getting some treats, but this was in between. He seemed to be very thoughtful through the whole process. Quiet and relaxed, but sufficient energy for self-carriage--as evidenced by the straightness, I think.

    The straightness was what I'd call the best result. Didn't even have to try for it, it just happened. Nice to look back at our track and see an arrow down the quarter line.
    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That's how the light gets in.


    • Original Poster

      It's worrrrrrkkkkinnnnnngggg!

      Way to go!

      Rode Gaited Baby tonight--still a little babyish on the snaffle since he was so recently converted from Bitless. Sharpened him up with the "vibrations" any time he wanted to hang and got good results. Trying to use absolutely minimal bit aids and more seat with opening or closing leg (they taught him "Western" leg aids where he came from.)

      Very cute after a couple of miles, and he spooked sharply (for which I don't fault him!) but then stood still when we were surprise-jumped by at least 8 perfectly camouflaged deer. I even stayed on, let's hear it for the ole Buena Vista!


      • #63
        My report as well! The first attempt, not so good on my part. I was obviously not clear enough so my mare did not step slowly. So I halted, regrouped and tried again. The dear girl kept her chest up and lifted from the shoulder. I only tried 2 steps since she gave a good attempt. She did not seem upset at all, just attentive. She normally likes to rush but that didn't occur either. I can't wait to try it again.


        • #64
          well, you guys have inspired me. took my mare's noseband off and dropped the bit down a hole on each side so there weren't any wrinkles.

          i tried some in hand work (always fun, considering i've done parelli-ish natural horsemanship stuff in the past. talk about confusing signals!). had some really nice shoulder in work, and some leg yeilding. it's _really_ hard for me to tell if i have the angle correct, but the hoof prints had 3 and then 4 clear tracks, so i'm guessing it was right. she really enjoys having something new to 'figure out' too!

          then we longed (no side reins) over a pole to help her learn where her feet are/to manage her stride over the pole (i'm an eventer so this is more for jumping stuff).

          then i hopped on bareback and had some really amazing transitions. she was so joyful about it! we've been trying really hard to get her haunches straighter and for her to use ALL of her legs (she'd rather the right hind just kind of trail along behind us), and it was a lot easier to ask her to move her haunches around when i was on bareback than in my jump saddle (been using that because she is quite out of shape, and i like to be able to get up off her back and help her out when necessary).

          unfortunately it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow! so no riding for me. BUT i did just put it together today that the in hand stuff that the massage therapist was telling me about is JCR stuff! i never knew! i'm going to ask him if i can borrow some books and read read read.
          Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)

          Darcy: 7? year old Border Collie x Rottweiler? Drama Queen extraordinaire, rescued from the pound in Jan 2010


          • #65
            I have an OTTB (a big lovely guy, aged 19) on whom I am taking dressage lessons. He gets upset if I am "in his face" too much, so yesterday, inspired by this thread and "Another Horsemanship" (which I just started reading), we walked. I did the exercise in the book where you halt, drop the reins completely, ask for a walk with your legs only, then pick up and adjust reins after the walk has started. It went so well that I am going to try it at the trot in an attempt to break the habit of using my legs and pulling on the reins at the same time. I would like to try the counted walk, but could someone tell me what exactly the correct aids are for this. My horse actually has a very nice walk, but how do you separate each step? Thanks so much.


            • #66
              Originally posted by L'HeureBleue View Post
              I would like to try the counted walk, but could someone tell me what exactly the correct aids are for this.
              i've been looking for a youtube video or something because i don't understand the process very well. i tried some stuff today but my girl was like O.O what are you trying to get me to do here?
              Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)

              Darcy: 7? year old Border Collie x Rottweiler? Drama Queen extraordinaire, rescued from the pound in Jan 2010


              • #67
                SY - Ok first horse of the day. Little jumper mare (she 15.3 me 6'1") homebred warmblood by Mapleside Magical. (Known for throwing 'hot' mares, and she would fit that description.) I have always thought of her as 'stiff,' and NOT a dressage horse.

                Longed first, just w-t-c loosely without side reins in rubber D single joint snaffle. Hopped on, settled myself, and started counted walk immediately.

                Not to hard to get some steps here and there. BUT, I realize all the successful singles steps are the left front leg. I try to isolate a different leg.

                Right front always brings the left hind with it. Then, I can get right front, but she takes all the weight off of left hind. "Interesting" says me.

                The shadow from the early morning sun and/or the mirror really help for this stuff, I realize.

                She tends to diagonalise. Always taking a step with front leg first and wanting to bring the diagonal hind along with it. Once we got to the other end of the ring, she decided to get exited about horses coming in and out and offers a flat little diagonally thingy (we won't call it piaffe, but piaffe-y resistance.)

                I get a few more steps and then drop the reins to free walk a few laps. Retake the reins, she tries to jog off, get her organized, proceed in nice, little jog-trot. Work on lateral work on a circle.

                I notice immediately how I am dumping her on her right shoulder, hence her rushing, and being 'hard' to half halt when tracking right. I inflate my left side and get more 'water going down' her left front leg.

                Now that I'm more balanced she's easier to control. I remember to vibrate rein instead of pulling back to half-halt or downward transition. I find I've got really nice control in the lateral work, then give her another walk break.

                Decide I want to canter, but I should trot more forward first. So I take rising trot all around the track, and I am quite surprised to find she half halts wonderfully. I try to send her quite forward down one side, then ask her to transition downward. She REALLY put her butt under her to sit down and transition was quite lovely. So I decide to skip canter and leave her there.

                Today's ride makes me think her 'stiffness' may be more about her need to stabilize/brace herself against a wobbly rider, than anything about how the horse "doesn't want to" work....

                I've got another 'stiff' one, so curious to see how it will go with her later on. Will report back again.
                "Friend" me !



                • #68
                  I was trying to decide if what I do is much different than what JCR describes.

                  Since I have trained quite a few horses (not the one I was riding yesterday) to Spanish walk and piaffe (I learned sp. walk mainly from what I watched Pops Konyot do) I am pretty sure I am doing what JCR is talking about. Each footfall becomes more distinct to the rider because that is where their focus is and the horse is more aware that the rider is paying attention, so they both get on the same page to where the feet are. Only when one is aware can one influence. The difficult part in teaching the spanish walk is usually getting the horse to understand that he has to walk up with the hindlegs as well, but, with this way, you already have communication with all four legs so its not just about elevating the front feet, you can just ask the hind feet to walk up in the walk sequence. In fact sometimes you have to tell the front to wait up for the the big step up, of the back feet, so they can catch up and get under before asking the front to step out again.

                  I actually use the energy in my body and my back more than my seat and reading the JCR articles has made me more aware of this. As I talked myself through it, I tried to pay more attention to what I was doing so I could write about it and put it into words. The horse becomes attuned to the riders back just like you would hold the horse with your back; the loosenes/tightness of your seat, such as when tightening to shorten the canter as going into a canter pirouette, OR a very slowed, shortened canter, then let go/loosen to follow........ to speed up or lengthen, or ask for a bigger jump in the canter. The horse learns to follow your energy thanks to the counted walk in early training. Of course, the rider is paying attention to what foot is grounded and what feet are in the air as to be able influence; balance and this is a conscious separation of the footfalls even when the feet are working together, such as two beat or three etc.. The conscious separation is learned in the slowest and easiest gait to learn it in; the walk.... with its distinguished, separate four beats in early training, in the counted walk.

                  Since I do counted walk, at least my version, with ALL of my horses and this horse matches my energy because she knows what it is all about, we just did it like we always do. I suppose I could experiment with raising my hands but, with the version of the counted walk that I am familiar with, I don`t do anything with my hands after the horses gets hooked onto/learns to follow my body, no need for much hand really.

                  Now back to more D & CT articles. And oh yes, dug out my Decarpentry book titled Piaffer and Passage.

                  Great thread,.... an excuse to revisit information that I haven`t looked at in a long long time.
                  Last edited by re-runs; Sep. 17, 2012, 11:10 AM.


                  • #69
                    "My horse actually has a very nice walk, but how do you separate each step? Thanks so much."

                    A rider might try slowing it down and if one has to use a little rein for that and ones horse is ok with it, it might take a little experimenting. It`s important that one keeps their feel on the rein alive, not just hang. The rider needs to visualize/feel when a hind foot hits the ground. Separating the footfalls is easier on some horses than others, usually though, the bigger the walk, the easier to hear/feel them if they are not rushing. When getting on an unfamiliar horse, I make a few laps of the arena just going WITH the horse and feeling the type of walk they have and getting WITH them.

                    Early on I was taught the trot to walk, and walk to halt transitions on each hind foot. If a rider is taught this way, a person becomes conscious of how to slow the feet to slow the walk.


                    • #70
                      You want to keep active so try not to come to a full stop but still have control of the steps.

                      If the horse gets to jumpy over it try stretching then volte to shorten back up then counted steps from volte.

                      Personally I dont train the counted steps as much as think of its an in betweent to work on gaits and I dont use it for more than a few steps at a time.

                      If you are having a good ole time with it my advice is (if you have done walk to canter without issues) try counted steps to canter. Try and use as little of aids as possible and if nothing put the horse back to the aids is medium walk and then again collected to counted steps and then to canter making sure the steps are active in all of the walks. It works wonders for canter transitions.
                      ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
                        If you are having a good ole time with it my advice is (if you have done walk to canter without issues) try counted steps to canter. Try and use as little of aids as possible and if nothing put the horse back to the aids is medium walk and then again collected to counted steps and then to canter making sure the steps are active in all of the walks. It works wonders for canter transitions.
                        this makes so much sense. somewhere along the way my mare learned walk to canter more as a trick than a correct transition, so when she gets too excited, she'll just throw herself into the canter. quite ugly and no fun for the rider.

                        i'll have to work on this more with her and see what she thinks about it.
                        Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)

                        Darcy: 7? year old Border Collie x Rottweiler? Drama Queen extraordinaire, rescued from the pound in Jan 2010


                        • #72
                          2nd horse today. 18 year old imported Dutch gelding.

                          Got the same response as the others, in terms of him bending around to look at me funny when I give him breaks. Again, left front was the easiest step to get.

                          He had a tendency to get 'dancy' in the halt with the CW work. Worried that I might ask him to step forward, back, sideways, "what do you want Lady?"

                          This is a horse that tends to really drop his front end when I don't want him to "Look, I'm stretching Lady. You like stretching, don't you?" But he does it in a way that ignores me. I found working on the CW made the half halts (just a little stilling of the seat and vibration of the rein) to work much better, in getting him to 'slow' but NOT dive.

                          CW work was fine. Short. The horses tell me 3-5 minutes is good at this point. MOSTLY what it seems to do is focus the rider attention on stop and go. Perhaps sharpening the riders brain is more than 50% of the exercise's success?

                          Worked a bit in trot and canter. Canter was so lovely so quickly, I had to stop after about 1.5 circle.

                          That does seem to be the 'thing' so far today. Horses 'get it' so quickly I have to 'let them off the hook' and find some other way to get them to sweat!
                          "Friend" me !



                          • #73
                            Two horses today. My "neuro" guy who used to be completely lateral as a result of his physical issues, lately has been showing a nice pure walk on the lunge (before he gets tired), but goes lateral as soon as you get on him. We talk and talk about how much of this is back tension and how much is neurological (or SI or stifles, etc.) Some days are better than others, some are almost normal, but today was not a "better" day. He was just doing his "camel walk." My trainer and I both rode him, and he tries so very very hard, but the more you ask for a forward walk, the more lateral he gets, with a real flat tire feeling on the RH. We have been just rewarding him for pushing forward evenly behind. (His trot and canter are lovely.)

                            This thread has interested me in trying the CW with him. We don't know if he can even tell where his hind legs are while he's walking. So it's not like there's a walk there to ruin. Really anything is worth a shot, it's all gravy if he improves, and it couldn't possibly get any worse.

                            Today at the end of lesson, I just introduced him to the concept. At first he kinda wanted to fall forward a full stride, but again, with clicker-savvy horses, they are trying to figure out the subtle details right away, so within about a minute, he lifted his forehand and gave me two light, deliberate steps. Just as I felt it, my trainer said, "That's good!" So click and stop there.


                            Second horse, the one I tried CW with yesterday. This boy--well, I bought him for his walk, it's the bee's knees, big powerful overtrack, perfectly pure, that panther prowl that's always going somewhere.

                            He remembered, for sure. He sometimes starts to offer a back, but that's a technical error by me. Once he was clear in what I was asking, he went right to work. He seems to really like doing it. I didn't canter right out of the CW, but when I did ask for a canter, he was much lighter and really really lifted off his forehand. I always smile when he canters like that, because he feels so freakin' TALL, and I realize that he's been on the forehand previously and I didn't really notice.

                            Ended on him offering a perfectly light moment of self-impulsion in CW, so we halted and I got off right there.

                            I think Isabeau is right--one thing I really notice is how this is lightening ME up because I'm focusing on each step, allowing it to happen without trying to make it happen.

                            So far so good.
                            Ring the bells that still can ring
                            Forget your perfect offering
                            There is a crack in everything
                            That's how the light gets in.


                            • Original Poster

                              Keep up the good work, everybody!!! Jean-Claude was fond of saying that much of this work is "esoteric"--he could stand right there in front of people and demonstrate, but then lots of times people would say they couldn't "get it." You have to get on your horse(s) and "noodle" and experiment.

                              Anyone looking for the specific instructions for Counted Walk, see Another Horsemanship Page 45.

                              You'll notice that my descriptions of using these tools (and that's exactly what I consider them--NOT an end in itself!) have me using them in the course of my ordinary riding, which tends to take place outside the manege. Use your terrain--roadsides for a straight edge, side-to-side of the road for lateral work, hills for engagement and canter departs on babies, anything that gets him "kerfuffled" for impulsion. My little guy gave me TONS of amplitude yesterday afternoon walking him by a big pen full of pigs, goats, & sheep! Always TAKE what the horse OFFERS and turn it into a lesson!

                              Party on,


                              • #75
                                Originally posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
                                You want to keep active so try not to come to a full stop but still have control of the steps.
                                So it's NOT one step at a time then? That may be where I was going wrong. My boy started with a hind foot each time and couldn't not take the step with the front foot. He was getting upset so I quit. Is it more that the rider is paying attention to each footfall rather than the horse is taking one step, then another?


                                • #76
                                  Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
                                  So it's NOT one step at a time then? That may be where I was going wrong. My boy started with a hind foot each time and couldn't not take the step with the front foot. He was getting upset so I quit. Is it more that the rider is paying attention to each footfall rather than the horse is taking one step, then another?
                                  Instead of thinking full stop in between as that is more trail riding/western type training... I would instead think very teeny tiny shortened steps and trying to control each step.

                                  This is how I learned it and having done it on hotter horses I had no trouble with only doing like 2-4 steps and then loose long walking after.

                                  You cannot do it a bunch or often to start. Just moving on if its not relaxed is a good idea

                                  Good luck!
                                  ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                                  • #77
                                    Too many ride counted walk as a hold it together slowed walk. That is NOT what it is. And that will end up with a shortened neck (even if the horse is up/open), tense back, and very short behind steps and what is commonly shown as c.w.

                                    CW is a progression, and imho should be a rarely and THERAPUTICALLY applied exercise. All exercises have specificity. Use for a REASON, not just do it to do it. And IF the horse does the progressive in hand work (high/light/mobile jaw; mm of lateral flexion while high/light/chewing; more lateral flexion at the axis; then chewing fdo after the later) then c.w. is easier bacause the rider controls balance in the first place. To start with cw IS problematic.

                                    So as an exercise it is ALLOWING one step at a time, not holding with hand and coming with the leg. If it is the later the horse will only walk very much slower and slower but purity will not be improved, nor the balance. Then the hh/nee demi arrets will only be an affectation after the fact. This exercises is for a progression FORWARD with the horse choosing to step into the connection with clear reaching of the forelegs being supported by hindleg articulation. At any point the rider could stop the progression.

                                    And least we forget walk is the LAST gait to be collected. This is NOT about shortening the stride length, it is ALL about balance. And, What creates lateral walks/aka pacing? Driving for more walk and preventing the neck from articulating within the gait (which most riders tend to do).

                                    IF the horse is not stepping with the forefoot after the hindleg then the rider is likely holding the horse. The fact the horse is getting upset/tense indicates the latter imho.
                                    I.D.E.A. yoda


                                    • #78
                                      I dont agree.

                                      The walk is no longer swinging and the stride will shorten hence the ability to get more articulation.
                                      ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                                      • #79
                                        I guess we need to talk about what a 'swinging walk is'. When seen from behind the hips alternately 'drop' side to side because of the axial rotation. That is ALWAYS part of the walk. Even if the walk is slightly shortened this should (nee must) happen. The more axial rotation the greater the articulation of the the ALL joints...and that comes from the BALANCE (ie up/open/active). The shortened base of support comes in collected walk (and/or in transitions to piaffe), which is a different thing altogether from CW.
                                        I.D.E.A. yoda


                                        • #80
                                          I dont agree with that either. Counted walk IMO is from the collected walk even if its not entirely trained as of yet.

                                          Just like you can use counted walk into piaffe it is because you are using a collected gait to help another one.

                                          We dont have to agree on this as Ive only seen French training as an added aspect to competition training and not as a foundation.
                                          ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~