Piaffe and Passage aids

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khall
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Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby khall » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:16 pm

One thing that came up in our trip to Portugal was the difference in aids for piaffe and passage as to how the Valenca's train and how I (and our friend from Belgium) was trained in the aids.

I have been taught that the piaffe is single leg alternating, Valenca's teach both legs together. In both teachings legs are back.

For passage I have been taught knee thigh is the main aid with the lower leg together in support for the movement. Valenca teaches alternate legs for passage nothing about knee thigh.

What have you been taught?

I am going to ask Cedar next clinic if not before. Working piaffe with Rip now. Hope to use the SW to teach him passage and help with his medium trot (which is way better already!)

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Dresseur » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:33 pm

Oh, fun thread!
I was also taught both legs together. I don't believe that I move my legs back very far - but me moving my legs back too far tends to give me a fork seat. Also, IMO alternating legs encourages balancé.
In passage: there is more positive tension through the body and definitely more thigh, more "crowding of the pommel" as well. Upper body tall, shoulders back.

In piaffe, the position is more relaxed and not as much knee/thigh on the horse. So, in my head I think more rigid to more relaxed to go between the two. So, if I want to go from piaffe to passage, I put more tension in my body, crowd the pommel more and allow forward - leg aids as needed. To go from passage to piaffe, I settle back in the saddle (not leaning back), think breath down and relax a bit and then use leg as needed to keep the activity.

This being said, I've only p/p on 3 very distinctly different horses. Each are slightly different as to what it takes to get that very clear rhythm in the p/p - but basically what I wrote is what I do and I am able to get them to lock into it and do smooth transitions between.

Just as an FYI, I was taught to keep the horse more towards a deux passage to prevent the hind legs from going out behind as in grand passage.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Tanga » Mon Sep 16, 2019 7:01 pm

Cool. I originally taught my horse on my own aides with alternating legs in piaffe, and was told, rightly, it make the piaffe uneven. I sit lightly and use by calves at the same time for piaffe and super light rein also in time. Passage is just bigger. No knee at all in either of that. They legs maybe come a little back, but not much.

I have really long legs, though, and have to bring them up even on the biggest horse to use a spur. I do it by feel, so it's like wrapping my legs under and lightly picking them up into my hands. I have three that do it right now.

Besides being told, by Sonya Vracko I think, a long time ago, to use legs at the same time, I don't think anyone ever told me what the aides were. I just do what feels natural, which is a trot, but more collected. I always school and teach it by doing a lot of extended trot, piaffe, extended and back and forth so it really keeps that feel. So piaffe feels like gear 1, passage is 2 or 3, and extended trot is 10.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby tlkidding » Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:51 pm

I've only ever done p/p on my own horse and trained him myself (right or wrong...). And he's been injured and barely ridden for almost 2 years, so it's been awhile.

Piaffe is a lightening of the seat, especially the back of my seat with legs slightly further back, acting together unless one hind leg is unequal. Passage is sitting fully and a bit further back on my butt, with legs at the girth together unless the ribcage needs more bend or he's getting crooked.

For both, I found the amount of core half-halt totally insane when we first started schooling them. It's not as much now, but to me, I think it's about holding the gait where you want with your core (bottom of sternum to top of pelvis) and some with the seat and less about the legs - too much leg and my horse will plow out the front and too much hand + leg and he quits or pops up.

What I do with the core is slightly different for each. For the piaffe, it's holding until the forward stops and then holding and releasing with the leg added for activity (and I will admit to the horrible fault of "bouncing" too much with my seat trying to create the rhythm). For the passage it's hold the core and then curl the pelvis up a bit to "bounce" the trot up more - adding leg with the curl when I want more up.

Transitions between p/p were something we were still working on and could be a hot mess.

Gears is exactly how my trainer described to think about getting to the piaffe - gear down, and down, and down until it's the smallest trot you can maintain without lots of leg. I was trying get into the piaffe with way too much trot. Eventually, you can gear down from the collected trot - tiny trot - piaffe within a few strides. We hadn't yet figured out how to gear down the passage without killing the hind legs before my horse got hurt.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Tanga » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:02 pm

Interesting, tlkidding. Yes, I forgot the lightening of the seat. I sit lighter in both piaffe and passage than trot and extended trot. (Maybe I should sit lighter in those?)

I don't find it's hard on the core, though. I find everything much lighter and softer and following. It's more about following and keeping the rhythm instead of holding it. :)

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Dresseur » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:13 pm

I would say I sit "heavier" in piaffe, just because the position is slightly more relaxed. It's not that I'm dropping onto the horse, I'm just not "holding" as much in the core. I sit lighter in extended trot too. But, how the horse is trained is also 1/2 the equation. Gears was something that never worked for me because I would slow down, I always needed to think of the continuum of strides.. like a runner energetically running in place vs sprinting with long strides - but, that's just me.
And, in the early P/P training, I do think that it takes more core - otherwise you may end up pulling the horse back into the movements. The one horse that I'm riding - I got to ride her p/p while she was just starting to understand it, and now, she gets it and it takes way less core support to help her find the rhythm. And again - it's interesting when she locks into the rhythm... it goes from kind of marching just through the legs in the passage to a bounding, light, clear rhythm. The piaffe, she wants to get slow behind still... more like a passage in place, and when she locks in, it's a very clear, powerful but very soft movement.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Chisamba » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:24 am

I was taught to lengthen the leg. Lower the heel, sit a bit heavier and use both legs simultaneously..

Passage, same aids just more activity. I do not crowd the pommel or sit back, remain over the center. The rein aids and core are a bit different more "wait" for piaffe.

I only use alternating leg aids for walk and tempi.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Chisamba » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:50 am

So I went back to Podhajski to see my reference, and yes the pushing down in the heels with extra weight is the main thing, it makes the calf bunch up bigger which the horse feels. Sitting heavier he calls bracing in the back. I am glad my description did not waver from my reference lmao.

I had more trouble with passage in my two upper level horses. I do not mind introducing piaffe younger so I have started half steps with quite s few horses, but passage with only two. And u waited till I had help on the ground and instruction for those

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby blob » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:46 pm

I've only ridden pi/pa on horses trained by the same trainer, so it's really only one reference point of training method.

For pi it was both legs and pa it was alternating. But the horses were most responsive to pa based on seat aids. If you made the seat more dynamic with a longer half halt in the seat for the suspension the horses would happily passage away and the leg was only necessary to get more lift if need be

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Kelo » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:10 pm

I only have experience with my horse....I don't really know how experienced people do it.

But I've been taught for piaffe to lighten my seat and slide both legs back, using them at the same time. Seat lighter is a cue for him to sit and collect.

Passage is back to regular seat and "bounce" him with seat cues, and using legs together at girth.

But main focus has always been seat aids.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Dresseur » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:07 pm

Chisamba wrote:So I went back to Podhajski to see my reference, and yes the pushing down in the heels with extra weight is the main thing, it makes the calf bunch up bigger which the horse feels. Sitting heavier he calls bracing in the back. I am glad my description did not waver from my reference lmao.

I had more trouble with passage in my two upper level horses. I do not mind introducing piaffe younger so I have started half steps with quite s few horses, but passage with only two. And u waited till I had help on the ground and instruction for those

Chisamba, this is what I was trying to describe by sitting "heavier". Bracing the back to me is crowding the pommel and it feels like a heavier seat - it's that forward intent that is then held by the seat and back. And, I would say that yes, I do think really lengthen my leg and sit very tall for both.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Boudicea » Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:33 pm

I feel like alternating aides could really damage the rhythm.

I try to ride it mostly from my seat and core but I admit that I find my heels coming up so I can use the edge of my boot on his belly to convince him to engage his core. He can do a very nice hollow backed piaffe/ passage otherwise. Been thinking spurs might be needed at this stage just to tickle his belly. I would prob be able to keep my heels down better than.

Does anyone else have the problem of getting pushed forward? My horse is a lusitano and he has every conformational flaw to push the saddle and me forward: downhill build, no withers, round sprung ribs with a forward girth groove and a relatively shorter back. I find myself using my thighs quite a bit just to stop myself getting pushed forward onto his neck. Is this just because of his conformation or is it fairly typical for passage?

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Ryeissa » Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:36 pm

new poster? welcome!

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby khall » Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:55 pm

With the horses I have trained piaffe on my own my first born foal years ago and now Rip I have done the alternate leg aids. My first mare Cori had a lovely and easy piaffe, no issues with balance'. Rip has been more difficult but not US more in hand. I have done the alternate leg aids with him as well and no balance' I've also used both legs at once and do get a bit more umph in the piaffe/half steps with Rip. Will ask Cedar next clinic.

No passage should not push you forward, the horse should be up enough in front during the movement (engaged in the sling) you should stay back.

In Portugal I rode a huge moving Lusitano in passage to extended trot to passage. I had trouble bouncing a bit in the passage because it was sooo big but not falling forward. Of course had worked all week on sitting back.

I appreciate all the responses! I do know I've had very specific aids taught to me for the 2. Knee and thigh most important for passage, lower leg/calf most important for piaffe. Of course sit up and hold core. In piaffe I think stop with the upper body but go with the lower leg.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Dresseur » Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:56 pm

hmmm... is the saddle being pushed forward too? If so, I'd recommend a crupper if you don't already use one. But, imo, you shouldn't feel like you are getting pushed forward. Without seeing video, it sounds like he's not really sitting and coiling behind (and yes, even downhill horses can do this). It sounds like he may be bouncing the croup up and down - which could push you forward. I'd experiment with keeping it a smaller passage - more doux passage to ensure that he stays down and sitting. And, before you school passage, I'd probably experiment with doing a number of snappy trot/halt transitions to encourage sitting behind.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Boudicea » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:48 pm

Hi no not new. It's 'frogling' I just don't post much anymore.

Yes the saddle is also pushed forward. I don't want to use a crupper as he is a gray and has melanomas under his tail--but yea that probably is what he needs. I have also tried a foregirth which didn't work. Saddle pads. Different saddles. Different girths. yadda yadda The saddle of course is fitted to him. It's an older Spirig so not a ton of thigh block or anything like that. Seat is fairly flat.

His piaffe and passage are in fact quite good and he sits nicely in both piaffe and passage if I do say so myself. Well and trainers/clinicians always seem to agree that he's a bit of a passage machine. Although of course there is always room for improvement but at 19 I also don't want to push him to do anything too extreme. He's held up really well thus far *knock lots and lots of wood*.

I will play around with it tonight and see if I ask for more sit, if it changes anything. I will do it carefully/little at a time. I wish I could do it in-hand but I'm not skilled enough with in-hand work. So i will have to ask with my fat butt in the saddle. Or maybe bareback would be better for me to feel it without the complication of the saddle being pushed forward.

I never noticed I was being pushed forward until I started really working on getting looser in my thighs. I didn't have much trouble to do this except when I asked for passage and then I was like, oh that's why I developed this habbit. LOL

I only have one picture of us in piaffe and it's from a number of years ago. and I'm sorry but we're on a slight incline so it's a bit cheating. I generally don't like seeing myself so I have very few pictures of myself riding. Also, very sorry to be stealing the thread, should I make a new one?
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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Dresseur » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:03 pm

Steal away, this is all germane to the the thread imo. And so, good news is that your horse does sit behind, it's a nice pic! His base is a little closed though, which could indicate that he does bounce a bit behind. And sometimes, those p/p machines tend to get a little "big" in the passage and a little "small" in the piaffe. Just something to look out for.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Flight » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:24 pm

Nice pic Boudicea!
I've only learned some p/p on 2 horses that are my own with me muddling through stuff so I don't feel qualified to comment. The woman I do clinics with taught me step by step with Norsey how to introduce piaffe steps which was pretty cool, which I should have on vid somewhere.
Boudicea I find with my friesian cross if he drops his sternum or contracts his lower cervical region, the front of the saddle drops down and when it goes forward it feels like he's scrunched up his barrel and loin a lot, but not lifted equally through his withers.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Tanga » Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:26 am

Nice, Boedicea. No help for you on being pushed forward. I was because of my saddle, but it doesn't seem to be the issue for you.

As I was schooling p/p and walk today, I realized another reason why you don't use alternate leg to do the piaffe, because that is the walk cue, which can be the hardest thing to keep in the showring, especially if they know to go into piaffe or passage after it. If it's the same cue of alternate leg, it can get really confusing for the horse.

I find that the higher up I go in the levels, the more clearly I need to use a slight alternate leg at the walk to make sure the horse 100% knows what I want in the ring, because anticipation of what is to come next, is a good killer of a walk score.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Ryeissa » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:17 am

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby khall » Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:16 am

Boudicea one thing I do see in the picture you posted that your guy could have his front legs more vertical for an even more correct piaffe. Even though he is sitting well, that front leg not vertical means he is weighting his front end or over his front end a bit too much. The trainer I work with now uses RB in piaffe to help with this. I love your position!! You look like a great pair:)

I would like to talk a bit more about passage and how you approach training it. In my past working with my OTTB g who had incredible mediums and extensions it was easy to go from medium trot to passage (I was told at that time to use the scope of the medium trot to train the passage). But Rip does not have the powerful medium trot that my TB did. So I have also heard of using the SW to help to teach the passage. Now Rip has a lovely expressive SW that we are working on US now so I am hoping to use the SW to help him understand passage. My long ago trainer I worked with used trot poles to teach passage and another trainer I worked with used deep grass to teach it.

Not getting much done right now. Temps have continued to be in the 100s with high humidity. Worse than July was!! It is just ridiculous and dangerous to man and beast. Cool off next week:)

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Tanga » Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:42 pm

khall What is SW?

I have used deep grass to teach passage! (When we have it) Also, water is great if you have a river or something where you can trot in it. I rarely have that available. I use whatever opportunities come, which is usually a very energetic, excited horse, so when they have that much energy, rather than try to calm it, I can use it to work on passage.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Chisamba » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:51 pm

SW, spanish walk. ( i think that is what Khall means)

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby blob » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:34 am

Khall, my trainer has actually had me use passage to improve the medium trot, which is not my horse's strong suit. And introducing baby passage work has really improved our medium trot.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Boudicea » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:50 am

Thanks for the kind words khall. Yes, shoulder freedom has been a struggle in all gaits for us. Still need to work on more carrying with the hind end.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Dresseur » Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:42 pm

Interestingly, as "PT" to gain strength in my leg, Andrea has be going between trot and passage because of the way you need to close your leg a bit for the transition to passage and to keep the passage active and to keep it from hollowing. Also, the added suspension stresses my hip slightly, which is good.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby khall » Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:10 pm

Yes SW is Spanish Walk. I find it interesting how passage, medium trot and piaffe are all helpful in the training of our horses. I can definitely see how passage helps the medium trot. My TB had incredible mediums and extensions so it was easy to use that power and scope for passage. Rip just lacks scope for his mediums, so yes I can see how passage (which we've done just a tiny bit of) could help increase that scope. He certainly does not lack for shoulder freedom and reach!! His SW is quite impressive.

I've used half steps to improve Rip's medium trot. Increase the engagement and collection in half steps then let out in medium trot.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Ponichiwa » Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:58 pm

Typically you need to borrow on the opposite of the movement you're in to improve it. Pirouette canter improves lengthened canter, and vice versa. Extended trot improves passage which improves extended trot. Piaffe/half steps improve extended trot. Reinback can also improve piaffe, depending on how you use it. Stretchy trot improves collected trot. And so on and so forth.

The rub is maintaining those improvements.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Chisamba » Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:19 pm

Ponichiwa wrote:Typically you need to borrow on the opposite of the movement you're in to improve it. Pirouette canter improves lengthened canter, and vice versa. Extended trot improves passage which improves extended trot. Piaffe/half steps improve extended trot. Reinback can also improve piaffe, depending on how you use it. Stretchy trot improves collected trot. And so on and so forth.

The rub is maintaining those improvements.


Agree that opposites improvebeach other. Connecting and maintaining those improvements takes skill. yes agree

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Linden » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:52 am

So it's funny, we have several posters saying definitely sit "Lighter" in piaffe, passage, and several saying definitely sit "Heavier" in piaffe/passage.

Why such a 100% difference? can we talk about why there would be such a discrepancy?
"Fix things going forward." LR

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Flight » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:11 am

I was told in piaffe to sit light, to allow the horse to use it's back and core. There may be moments where you ask again with your back and be heavier with your seat but you should lighten again to allow.

I remember reading this too: "when you piaffe, you should be sitting over your knee, not sitting on your backside. Charlotte does that naturally, I have to remind myself to do it because I want to be too strong, but that is a really interesting little tip he gave me because piaffe, you get the feeling that you are driving, but in fact you should be sitting over your knee to let the horse use its back.” (found at: https://www.horsemagazine.com/thm/2019/ ... -and-more/)

I was told at a Valenca clinic to sit more to the back in the saddle for passage, more that to try and help differentiate an aid for passage. But to be honest Ding feels most hollow in his back in passage.

I'd love to know more about the theory behind it.

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Re: Piaffe and Passage aids

Postby Dresseur » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:52 pm

Linden, for what I was taught, and for the horses that I've felt (all obviously trained by the same person...) the piaffe is a more relaxed seat and back with the energy being tapped up by legs/heels when needed. So sitting lighter in my head is a reference to how much tension is being put in my body. I'm not literally taking weight off the horse's back. In the passage, you need to brace a bit more and have much more positive tension in the body - which goes all the way down through the heels, so that you are able to play up the cadence/resonance with your body. That feels heavier to me just because of the way I use my body. This is also something that Podhajski describes. If I'm going between everything... the sitting trot is relaxed with a bit of tone in the body, but legs and back are fairly relaxed - passage, I bring tension to my core and brace my back (kreuz anspannen) and let the weight sink all the way down. There is a feeling of crowding the pommel because of the forward intent that is generated by these postural changes. Then to go to piaffe - I settle back a bit, but relax my back and the positive tension will kind of stop at the knee so that my lower legs are free to tap the hind up under. To go from piaffe to trot, I brace my back slightly and give a bit forward and add some leg. To go from passage to trot, I relax a bit and let the horse move forward. To go from walk to piaffe, again, I settle back a bit and start asking the hinds to activate - shoulders and hh keep it from advancing. To go from walk to passage, I stiffen and as soon as the first diagonal pair comes up, I hh and start building up the resonance/cadence.

Flight, if Ding feels hollow, try to keep the passage very small - a deux passage to keep from hollowing.


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