Rhythm.Tempo.Cadence...Grr! Pulling out my hair! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 02-16-2011, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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Rhythm.Tempo.Cadence...Grr! Pulling out my hair!

Even after going to a horse college, I still struggle to understand and see these words come to life. If they come up on a test, I can tell you the correct answer but riding and watching horses, I really stumble upon seeing and feeling them in a horse.

I understand rhythm is like the one-two, one-two beat of a trot and so on, but when do tempo and cadence come in?

Can you guys help show me the light? Videos and pictures always help!

Thanks so much! :)

Amber.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
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post #2 of 22 Old 02-16-2011, 02:58 PM
slc
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I just wrote you the most beautiful thing and I lost connection.

Anyway, here's a much shorter thing:

Rhythm = the hoofbeats within one stride. Each beat should get the same amount of time. Such as in walk 1..2..3..4, not ...12....34.

Tempo=how many (full, complete) strides in a minute. 'too fast a tempo' looks fast, tense, nervous, jerky. 'Too slow a tempo' looks like a death march. Buzzards are circling overhead. Judges are dying of old age. Your trainer is calling a priest to give the last rites - to your horse. Husband is calling, 'Maaaaaary, when are ya comin' hoooome????'

Cadence=Impulsion+Rhythm (that very, very slight 'pause' where the horse seems to just hang in the air during trot or anter).

Just to make you more miserable, I'll add a few things:

At the upper levels, riders and horses tend to have rather quick, energetic looking tempos. That's ok!

At the upper levels, judges constantly warn riders not to 'over-cadence' the trot. Too much cadence is not right either! But for most of us ordinary folk, we are always looking for more, not trying to get rid of too much!!!!

(st Christopher is the patron saint of impulsion and cadence, so if you need to pray, he's the dude).

Last edited by slc; 02-16-2011 at 03:01 PM.
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post #3 of 22 Old 02-16-2011, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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I just wrote you the most beautiful thing and I lost connection.
Aww man!

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Rhythm = the hoofbeats within one stride. Each beat should get the same amount of time. Such as in walk 1..2..3..4, not ...12....34.
Okay, I can understand that. What could cause uneven time? Maybe stiffness?

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Tempo=how many (full, complete) strides in a minute. 'too fast a tempo' looks fast, tense, nervous, jerky. 'Too slow a tempo' looks like a death march. Buzzards are circling overhead. Judges are dying of old age. Your trainer is calling a priest to give the last rites - to your horse. Husband is calling, 'Maaaaaary, when are ya comin' hoooome????'
Okay, so a horse with a quick tempo say walks really fast? And a pony's quickness is okay because they're shorter? So then a slow tempo is just a horse that is moving too slow but his rhythm could be okay as long as its even?

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Cadence=Impulsion+Rhythm (that very, very slight 'pause' where the horse seems to just hang in the air during trot or anter).
Ahh, I think I've seen this. Especially in the upper level horses.

Amber.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
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post #4 of 22 Old 02-16-2011, 07:41 PM
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An uneven rhythm can be caused by many things, stiffness included. Often it is rider fault, if the rider is not keeping rhythm with his/her seat, then obviously the horse is going to lose rhythm. Tension is another big one, if the horse is tense and not in front of the rider's aids, it will lose rhythm and often when the rider applies an aid the horse will either speed up or slow down.
In your lower levels, Rhythm and Relaxation at the two major points that a judge is looking for. Not so much flashy and big moving with cadence, but a horse that is happily moving forward in an even rhythm, at a good tempo and happily into the bridle with a nice soft swinging back.
In the upper levels, then you start to add the 'flashy' factor into your performance, judges still want rhythm and relaxation but also want increased 'cadence' (I don't really like that word as no one seems to be able to agree on exactly what it means).


Now as for ponies, no they should be no quicker. They're strides are naturally shorter than a horses but they still have to remain in an appropriate tempo. So Say a horse is walking at a 'medium' tempo and a pony is at a 'medium' tempo, the pony should not overtake the horse! Little legs is no excuse to run through the aids in too fast a tempo
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post #5 of 22 Old 02-16-2011, 08:52 PM
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"ponies should be no quicker than horses"

Nope, don't think so. The 'right tempo' for each horse is the one where he is most balanced, relaxed and has the best range of motion.

A pony with short little legs and less range of motion might very well have a slightly faster tempo than a tall, long legged horse. It depends on how the animal is built and how it moves.

Even within horses of rather similar breeds and conformation, the tempo can be different. My longer more rectangular horse has a rather slower tempo at all 3 gaits, than my much more Type A, compact type horse. I could make a pot of coffee on the 'up' posting on the first horse, LOL.

The trick is that it's not so fast that THAT horse is getting off balance or tense, or too slow that that horse doesn't have enough forwardness to get the work done.

The tempo that is right for one horse, might not be right for another one. But that's just one part of the game, figuring out what is the best tempo for each horse, like figuring out the right length of rein, etc.

The trick is that for a given horse, once you figure out what the right tempo is for THAT horse, you stick to it, so he's not going 90 trot strides a minute TOWARD the barn, and 50 trot strides a minute going AWAY from the barn! His tempo should be like a metronome, that regular.
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post #6 of 22 Old 02-16-2011, 08:55 PM
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What causes uneven rhythm? Within a stride, like a canter stride that doesn't have 3 evenly spaced beats? Well, stiffness mostly.

In the trot, a poor rhythm can be due to the rider not balancing 'leg and rein', so the hind legs are shuffling along slowly and the forelegs are moving more rapidly, fighting for balance. Too long a rein or no half halts can be behind that.

But poor rhythm in a stride can have many sources. Best to consult a riding instructor to sort that out if you have that issue.
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post #7 of 22 Old 02-16-2011, 09:04 PM
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Okay, so a horse with a quick tempo say walks really fast? And a pony's quickness is okay because they're shorter? So then a slow tempo is just a horse that is moving too slow but his rhythm could be okay as long as its even?

Um...I...you ask a lot of questions (puts down dog and snack).

FAST is like - the worst word. Are the legs moving 'fast'(strides per minute), or is the horse covering a given distance 'fast'(that's 'speed' - miles covered in a given time). Everyone uses 'fast' in a different way.

Tempo is number of strides per minute. I timed top horses doing freestyles some time ago. An average tempo for walk was 55 strides a minute, trot, 74, canter, 96.

A little short legged pony might take more strides per minute than those figures. But that might be what works best for that little short legged pony. It has to be the right tempo FOR HIM. The way he's built, if you try to slow him down to some horsey-like number of strides a minute that doesn't fit him, he may have no ooph - no energy in his strides.

We're always trying to balance forwardness, range of motion - many things, as we decide what tempo to stick to.

If you put up some videos, I and others, can try to identify which seem 'too fast a tempo' etc.

Sure, if you are doing like a million strides a second, the tempo is 'too fast', horse looks like manic wind up toy that was given a grande latte. If you are doing TWO strides a minute, definitely too slow, something must change, lol.

So maybe the best thing to say is, somewhere around those 'average' tempos, there's a tempo that's just right for your horse.

Last edited by slc; 02-16-2011 at 09:10 PM.
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post #8 of 22 Old 02-16-2011, 09:13 PM
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Ok - Theodore O'Connor does dressage, these tempos work for him:


Ok, pretty different, this is Ravel -


But these tempos work for each of these horses(you can just ignore Ravel's passage in this example, as the passage is always just a tiny bit slower tempo than the collected trot).

If you want, go to equimusic dot com, you can select music with trot, canter and walk tempos, and kind of get the tempo in your mind. The EXACT tempo varies from horse to horse, but as you can see there is a 'ballpark' tempo for each gait that you can kind of imagine.

Last edited by slc; 02-16-2011 at 09:18 PM.
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post #9 of 22 Old 02-17-2011, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Um...I...you ask a lot of questions (puts down dog and snack).
Ahaha...sorry


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Originally Posted by slc View Post
A little short legged pony might take more strides per minute than those figures. But that might be what works best for that little short legged pony. It has to be the right tempo FOR HIM. The way he's built, if you try to slow him down to some horsey-like number of strides a minute that doesn't fit him, he may have no ooph - no energy in his strides.
Okay. I thought the video of Teddy looked like he was moving a bit quick but that's probably just my untrained eye.

Amber.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
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post #10 of 22 Old 02-17-2011, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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That last video didn't work. Oh well.

I think I am starting to understand now...

Amber.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
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