Passage is one of the most difficult paces for horses to perform. A very collected trot, with highly elevated steps which progress slowly forward, not all horses have the ability to perform this movement. The horse needs to engage their haunches to hold the height and suspension in each step. The height and suspension of the steps is dependent on the horse’s conformation, strength and suppleness, and so this will vary from horse to horse.
The head and neck must be allowed to rise, the exact position will depend on the horse, and some horses will bring their nose slightly in front of the vertical. If the neck is lowered, the horse will be on the forehand.
These pictures show 3 different horses with the same rider, Nuno Oliveira, and each horse has a slightly different look to the passage.
Problems with passage steps can be seen in a number of faults:
It is not uncommon to see a big moving horse making exaggerated steps in the front legs, giving the impression of a correct passage, but when you look to the details of the movement, they are often disengaged and do not have correct steps. To see this more clearly, look at the action of the hind leg.
Have a look at these images, which do you think is most correct? With passage and piaffe it can be easier to see faults from video footage, look up some video’s online and see if you can observe correct steps and faulty ones.
Diane Followell - Training Riders, Transforming Horses
Diane Followell Classical Dressage Trainer
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