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What age to be schooling piaffe/passage and tempi changes?

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  • What age to be schooling piaffe/passage and tempi changes?

    I was just reading EuroDressage and I saw an article on Akiko Yamazaki's new 6 year old Dutch horse Chopin. In the article it says the horse is schooling piaffe, passage and tempi changes every 2. I was wondering is this early, or do some really precocious special horses have the aptitude and strength to pull off the upper level schooling at 6? Or is this the norm? Thank you in advance for response!

  • #2
    for a horse that is on the "international track" that is not unusual. No value judgement/approval/disapproval - but that's the way it is. Steffen's new mare (who is 6) is also at the same point training wise.
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    • #3
      Was actually just talking about that with my trainer (having a young horse who we are pushing to really collect more). Her take on it was that especially with piaffe, it is started early, generally in the winter of their 5th year while the older horses are doing the indoor season and then they will have progressed to passage and starting on tempies the next winter. Especially with piaffe it really improves the quality of the trot work if done correctly.

      Even though my guy is an eventer, I think the goal would be to get him doing half steps by next fall at the very least, if not sooner given how quickly he is progressing
      "I'm too sexy for my blanket, too sexy for my blanket, these mares-they should take it..." (J-Lu) - Featuring The Skypizzle Pony aka Classic Skyline

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      • #4
        I don't know the answer, but know many people feel it helps to strengthen the topline and just build muscle overall.

        There's also natural tendency to keep in mind. When she's not in a butt-high state, my filly's natural tendency (with my trainer on her) is to go into a textbook quality piaffe when resisting forward motion. That's just purpose breeding coming to the fore.
        Originally posted by Silverbridge
        If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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        • #5
          For an international track horse, they will be thinking about showing the small tour at 7, the national GP at 8/9, and the large tour at 9/10.

          The international track 6 y/o just finished a year of showing in the FEI 6 y/o test (which is 3rd/low 4th level). By December, that horse is basically ready to step into the PSG, and definitely schooling higher.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you for all of the answers! That really gives me an idea of the time frame if all goes according to the master plan! Lol!

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            • #7
              It's not just the international track animals. There are plenty of horses that have a particular talent and there's nothing wrong with developing it. I've introduced half steps to 1st/2nd level horses. I think most well trained youngsters are starting changes by five or six.

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              • #8
                While I agree with all of the above posts, I will offer the idea that a 6 year old may not have the muscle and tendon strength to correctly pull off such highly collected movements as piaffe and passage correctly (natural talent does not equal physical ability to correctly sit down and do it), and really should only be schooled by someone who really knows what they're doing (and can really afford it if the horse develops an issue), if a 6 year old should be schooled in in piaffe and passage at all. The rider has to be "in" and "out" fast on a 6 year old. Schooling a 6 year old in GP-level movements (as stated by the OP, not half-steps or collected steps) is very early.
                Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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                • #9
                  Also remember, many young horses ARE schooling P and P in hand - which is much different then schooling under saddle. My 5 year old mare has schooled a bit of P and P in hand - I wouldn't dare try it with me on her back

                  Akiko's new horse is on the international track - as already stated, this is about normal. He'll probably be showing PSG in 2014!

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                  • #10
                    Eurodressage just posted an article on this very subject!
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                    • #11
                      When a gifted young horse offers things like piaffe, it is often better to reward than to say "don't do that." It is also a way to sort the wheat from the chaff. Horses that have extravagant open gaits often do not have the ability to close their base and do high collection, so they can head off on the young horse route and be marketed as such. The grand prix prospects are a different sort, and can be a bit up and down as youngsters, but naturally offer diagonal pairs in place, or lots of "hike and snatch" as the beginnings of piaffe and passage. Not brilliant in the young horse tests, but very quick to go to the top.
                      Last edited by not again; Dec. 22, 2013, 11:36 AM. Reason: spelling
                      Anne
                      -------
                      "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thank you Tasker for the link to the article!

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                        • #13
                          The more I ride and watch other people ride the more I believe the major factor determining the speed of progress is the horse's rider not the horse's talent.

                          With my own horses I trained my first dressage horse up a level every 12 months. It took us 7 years to get to PSG. With my current horse we are schooling all the GP movements (all of them needing a lot more work before they can be seen by a judge but all recognisable as one times/pirouettes/piaffe/passage) in 3 years of light work. My horse is 7 and gets ridden 2-3 times a week.

                          The hardest part of training a horse is learning what a movement feels like and then learning what the smallest try towards the new movement feels like. If you can tell when the horse is trying in the right direction and reward that try, they will offer that try again and venture further towards the movement you want. If you miss the try the horse has no way of knowing what on earth you are asking for and so progress is slower.

                          There is a world of difference between the feel of a fully trained piaffe and a baby horse doing their first bouncy, unbalanced attempts. Learning what a try feels like is hard.

                          To go back to the original question if you have enough experience to know how to feel young horse attempts at all the different movements and good timing for rewarding the horse then a talented horse can be doing lengthened strides and half passes and not-always-reliable flying changes at 5, if they offer piaffe, take the offer. If they offer passage, pat them but store it up for later. At 6 you'll probably have reliable single changes, unreliable tempi changes, the start of extensions and working pirouettes. Those talented in piaffe will be giving several steps. By seven they will have changes down to 2s and starting one times, reliable half pirouettes (IME these are the hardest thing the horse has to learn) and an understanding of the difference between piaffe and passage.

                          The good news is that it isn't a race. I have deep reservations about very young horses (2-3 year olds) doing hard work like lungeing. I don't like to see any horse being drilled. But if you keep the work fun and interesting with bursts of high intensity followed by walks on a long rein to let the lactic acid wash out of the muscles so they aren't too sore the next day it is amazing how fast they can learn.

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                          • #14
                            Stolensilver, I think you are right. Rider talent plays such a big role. My significant other just came back from riding at stable in Germany where many of the trainers there are world champions/German Champions/team riders etc. He said there they believe that the rider is 60 percent of the equation and he said after seeing these riders work, he believes that too. Lots of the horses were nice, but not amazing and yet the things the riders could do with these horses was unbelievable. It was not unusual at all for the five year olds to be working piros, twos etc and pretty darn well.
                            www.svhanoverians.com

                            "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.

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                            • #15
                              Just a personal thought.
                              So many threads about injuries, ill training methods, tension in tests and most horses retired by early teens, tells me that we are pushing way to fast.
                              That said, I happily ride @ PSG on a 19 & 23 yr old who are turned out 12 hours daily, kept in light work-just maintaining correct- no fights/drama under saddle & have no soundness issues.

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                              • #16
                                Just a personal thought.
                                So many threads about injuries, ill training methods, tension in tests and most horses retired by early teens, tells me that we are pushing way to fast


                                Or is it that most of us spend too many years riding around and around with our horses hollow and on the forehand? The vast majority of the horses you are referring to were never schooling psg at 5/6 years old.... I would bet most of them haven't done more than second level. So is it really serious dressage work done by top riders that breaks these horses down or is it something else?
                                www.svhanoverians.com

                                "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.

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                                • #17
                                  Many years ago, when I lived in Germany, "young" horses were brought in from the field to be started at the age of FIVE!!!! You might see a four year old briefly brought in to be evaluated, started and turned back out. I think the stallions of the SRS are brought in at four and they are certainly ridden into their twenties. I remember reading somewhere that the Italians thought second level work should not begin until the horse was 7.

                                  Fast food, fast training, disposable everything. I am certain that the argument is that there is "better breeding" I disagree. We didn't think a horse was finished as a teenager. Horses were still RACING and in the hunt field beyond that. If you ASK a horse and your training progresses, that is all well and good. I think out international horses don't last like they used to.

                                  An opinion.
                                  “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
                                  ? Albert Einstein

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by horsefaerie View Post
                                    Many years ago, when I lived in Germany, "young" horses were brought in from the field to be started at the age of FIVE!!!! You might see a four year old briefly brought in to be evaluated, started and turned back out. I think the stallions of the SRS are brought in at four and they are certainly ridden into their twenties. I remember reading somewhere that the Italians thought second level work should not begin until the horse was 7.

                                    Fast food, fast training, disposable everything. I am certain that the argument is that there is "better breeding" I disagree. We didn't think a horse was finished as a teenager. Horses were still RACING and in the hunt field beyond that. If you ASK a horse and your training progresses, that is all well and good. I think out international horses don't last like they used to.

                                    An opinion.
                                    A big difference between SRS horses and international tour horses is the amount of travel involved. No matter how cushy the trailer (or boat, or plane) that's a lot of stress. Retiring a horse from international competition might be the best move for the sound horse that needs to step down from a busy travel schedule.

                                    Compare that to the SRS stallions who rarely leave their home base. Whole different animal.

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