How to Teach Piaffe Part I

Hello Everyone,
I am starting on the process of teaching Donzer Piaffe. I want to share the process with you as I am learning how to teach this to a horse at the same time as Donzer. My plan is to break down the steps so you can do it with your horse too. The big key to teaching Piaffe as I understand it is getting the horse to understand the movement in their body. I think almost everyone has been on a trail ride when their horse started jigging along the trail. The horse’s head is usually up, their back is down and your horse is desperately trying to communicate that it’s time to get on with it (whatever it is at the moment). While the horse is moving in diagonal steps and may be on the spot what makes this different from Piaffe is the way the movement moves through the horse’s body.


The Goal of Piaffe
In Piaffe we want the horse to use it’s core muscles (lift the belly, back, shoulders) and lower their hindquarters by actually flexing the joints (stifle and hock). Their head should be on or in front of the vertical and they should not be pulling your arms out but be carrying themselves. So the real challenge is teaching the horse to accept this energy in their body without exploding in some direction. I can tell you that starting this with Donzer, in both the long lines and under saddle, he’s done some pretty brilliant airs above the ground–I’ll make a video if I get any. I think it is going to be an interesting training process to teach Donzer to assume this powerful position and then take diagonal steps in place–he’d really rather show me how powerful he is by leaping through the air. (I know your horse’s talk to you too! :)).

Lesson One
The first thing I’ve been teaching Donzer is to pick up each leg when I tap on it and hold it in the air. I did this by simply tapping and then giving him a cookie when he did it right. I now ask him to do all 4 legs before he gets a cookie. I have added this to our tacking up routine so it is just a part of his day. It is funny because sometimes when I’m grooming Donzer he’ll start randomly picking up his legs looking for treats.

Good Training,
Tara 🙂

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