|Good Cadence: Diagonal pair of legs moving in rhythm, at the same rate. Mostly.|
I spoke to a retired judge who directed me to the USDF Glossary of Judging Terms 2011. She warned me that often a judge will incorrectly use the terms cadence, tempo and rhythm in evaluating a test. So, here is the Law According to USDF:
The marked accentuation of the rhythm and (musical) beat that is a result of a steady and suitable tempo harmonizing with a springy impulsion.
The recurring characteristic sequence and timing of footfalls and phases of a given gait. For purposes of dressage, the only correct rhythms are those of the pure walk, trot, and canter, and rein back and piaffe (not those of amble, pace, rack, etc). In music, the repeated pattern or grouping of musical beats.
(Note 1: “Rhythm” is sometimes used mistakenly to mean “tempo” [rate of repetition of the rhythm]. This usage is not consistent with the correct English definition of “rhythm” [per Webster], nor with its normal usage in music.
Note 2: In English, there is no one term that covers both the rhythm [as defined above] and the tempo, as does the term “Takt” in German. This has caused
confusion because “Takt” has commonly been translated as Rhythm. For purposes of the Training Pyramid, the German term “Takt” is translated as “Rhythm” and is used as shorthand for both the rhythm itself [as defined above] and the suitable rate of repetition of the rhythm [tempo]. See Foreign Terms and Pyramid of Training sections.)
Rate of repetition of the rhythm, the strides, or of the emphasized musical beats—beats per minute, as may be measured by a metronome (in walk and trot, the
footfalls of both forelegs are typically counted [two beats per stride], and in canter the footfall of the leading foreleg is typically counted[one beat per stride]).
(Note: Often confused with Rhythm, Cadence, and MPM/stride length.)
PHEW! I'm so glad we've got that cleared up! To break it down, I came up with the following definitions:
Cadence is the measure of movement. Rhythm is the pattern of movement. Tempo is the rate of movement. Therefore, cadence = rhythm + tempo. [I made math. Someone please tell Ms. Beck, my old algebra teacher, she will be astonished.] Now, I'll put that into a practical application [oops, someone call a medic, Ms. Beck has now fainted.] At the trot, the horse moves the diagonal pair of legs in unison [rhythm]. Duh, everybody knows that, welllllllll...sometimes the horse is a little out of tune/step and picks up one of the diagonal pair of feet before the other and sets it down before the other [tempo]. This breaks the USDF Law of Sequence and Timing of Footfalls, producing a trot that is uneven or irregular, which the USDF defines for us:
An irregularity in walk or trot in which the front or hind pair of legs does not move symmetrically, the right leg making a different length of step than the left leg.
Impure, unlevel, or uneven. Can be momentary or pervasive, and may or may not be due to unsoundness. Should not be used to mean unsteadiness of tempo.
|Momentarily Irregular? Off hind put up before near fore/ near hind put down before off fore. This looks like a two beat gait, but the diagonal pair are not creating it.|
So uneven is irregular and irregular is uneven, very clear. If the diagonal pair is moving unevenly or irregularly, as the case may be, the trot ceases to be a two beat gait of 1,2,1,2 and becomes 1&2&1&2&, which leads us from algebra to music and beat vs tempo. "BUT," I hear you say, "The beat is the tempo!" Nope, sorry to say, not. [Mr. Menning, my high school band teacher has also fainted at the thought of me trying to speak intelligently about music]. Back to the USDF:
A footfall within a gait. A hoof, or pair of hooves virtually simultaneously, striking the ground.
Virtually simultaneously? Seriously? Wellllll, let's put it this way. A horse performing a correct two beat working trot can increase or decrease the rate at which it moves it's diagonal pair of legs without deviating from a correct two beat working trot. The tempo [rate] has altered, but the rhythm [pattern] has not. As to a horse that is trotting uneven or irregular in a working trot the tempo and rhythm are both altered. I think.
Still confused? OK, lets talk German. [I didn't study German in school, so I am uniquely unqualified to speak on this subject, too.] Takt is defined as rhythm and tempo, although usually used in shorthand as simply rhythm. ["Isn't that Cadence?" I hear you ask. Maybe. I think so. But then again. Maybe not.] The horse picking up and/or setting down a foot of the diagonal pair virtually unsimultaneously is exhibiting irregular beat. Or is that uneven tempo? Oh, bloody helk, lets call it impure takt, that sounds much more interesting.
[Big, heavy sigh] After all that, I still say, "That horse's cadence is off." Guess that is why I'm a blogger and not a dressage judge. That is accidental sagacity for today. I know... You Are Most Welcome.
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