Do you sometimes find yourself confused about the differences between rhythm and tempo and adjusting the stride of your horse when riding?
Is is all a bit confusing whether or not while adjusting your horse’s stride, you are continuing ‘maintain the rhythm’ or keeping a ‘consistent tempo’?
In this blog post I want to quickly help you begin to identify the difference between rhythm and tempo, so you can work on improving and maintaining both in your riding.
Begin in Walk
I am going to suggest starting your work on rhythm and tempo in walk with your horse. Begin by trying to identify the 4 time beat of your horse’s footfalls while he walks around the arena.
Every stride your horse takes in walk should have a definitive 4 beat rhythm to it.
Those four beat; 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2 ,3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, including the ‘quiet space’ in between the 4 and 1 make up the rhythm of your horses walk. Think of it like the beat of your horses ‘walking dance’. It is repetitive and ongoing as you walk around the arena.
The Difference Between Rhythm and Tempo in the Walk
Now, if you were to suddenly push your horse forward to a faster walk, those hoof falls would probably become 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, . Notice how the elements of the rhythm are the same as above, but they happening much faster?
The rhythm is the sequence of footfalls within each stride. The tempo is how often this sequence occurs in a given or set period or distance
The tempo can be faster or slower… Same rhythm, but just repeated more often in the same amount of time or space, or less often as the case may be if you were to slow things down.
So Rhythm is the actual pattern of the hoof falls; Tempo is how fast or slow they are occurring in a given time or space.
Starting to Work in Trot
Once you can identify the rhythm in the walk, I suggest picking up trot. Spend a little time in firstly establishing the 1, 2, 1, 2, rhythm of the trot.
If your horse was to suddenly change into the 1…, 2…, 1., 2.., 1…, 2., 1.., 2…, beat of the trot; his rhythm would have changed.
When you can feel and count the rhythm of the trot, you can begin to experiment a little with changing the tempo up and down. However remember to maintain the same rhythm throughout the trot itself.
Keep in mind that often, when we are adjusting the stride, we don’t want to change the tempo or the rhythm, but we still would like to adjust the length of the stride. Here, we ask our horse to cover more or less ground while continuing to maintain the same tempo and rhythm in the trot.
Your horse can do this by either lifting his legs higher with each stride, to shorten the distance covered. Or stretching his legs forward more with each stride, to increase the distance covered.
This involves quite a lot of discipline and training for your horse to achieve. It also involves you asking the correct questions and giving the correct directions at the correct time.
I have more information for you on improving the trot and on basic rhythm listed below