Monday, March 5, 2018

looking back: assessing the video still

Just about every action shot published on this blog is a screen shot from a video. There are a few exceptions, but by and large most of my pictures are from videos. Meaning I spend a lot of time scrolling through a video looking for those representative "moments."

Generally my favorite screenshot moment in trot is when the horse's leading fore leg is at its most outstretched, but has not yet hit the ground. Ideally, there will still be a little lift in the fore leg while the diagonal hind will have already landed and begun pushing. This stance often seems to give the horse his best chances of looking uphill, engaged and lifted in his wither.

Obvi this doesn't always quite work out, for instance Isabel never really landed first with her diagonal hind. But that's ok -- It's all relative to the horse's overall strength, conformation, training, and quality of movement anyway.

So again, my #1 preference is for the leading fore leg to be reaching and not yet landed. Usually I tend to prefer the horse's fore leg closest to the camera to be reaching forward, since that can make the shoulder look a little freer imo. I'm not too rigid with this, tho, as evidenced below.

By consistently looking for shots of Charlie in more or less the same phase of his trot, it becomes easier to compare similar pictures over time to assess his development. Particularly in the progression from when he first came off the track up to now, and also in suggesting what might be possible with the horse when he has more strength (or possibly a better rider LOL).

So let's have a looksie, shall we?

still my favorite "before" shot of charlie lol
Let's start by looking at photos of Charlie's trot in the earliest days right off the track when he was also pretty body- and hoof-sore,* as shown above. (*Yea I bought a lame horse. I remind myself of this every time I start whining about him being lame now too haha)

His leading foreleg is outstretched and he's basically looking as uphill as he ever was during this period. But we can easily see that he is totally disengaged and is dropped through the wither with a hollow top line. Definitely lacking strength behind!!


i tagged this photo from charlie's first ever jump lesson as #futureeleganthorse. yep. 
A few weeks later and we're still basically in the same place. Leading fore is outstretched, but will clearly hit the ground before the diagonal hind (explaining why his other fore leg is the only hoof fully grounded). The horse is disengaged and dropped through his shoulders, and heavy on the forehand. 

By this point, at least he has in fact discovered that he has hind legs, tho, and is in the infancy of figuring out how to push forward with them as opposed to just letting them trail behind.


my abs do not miss these days. at all.
But..... they still trail sometimes haha. Here's that not-actually-so-rare moment with both fore legs down and both hind legs up in trot. It's real special, yes?

Frankly, if you chopped Charlie's neck off and stuck it on top of his butt facing the other direction, well.... it would be a nicer picture haha. Bc yea we're basically backasswards in this shot. Or, in nicer words, a tad disengaged and heavy on the forehand. Death by face planting appears imminent.


code word in the early days: forward. that is all. just go forward. figure out the rest later.
In the same ride, but a different moment, you can clearly see how rapidly the green horse teeters back and forth between balance points. 

In this shot he *is* stepping more underneath himself with his hind end and figuring out how to push... But there's no corresponding lift through the shoulders and back, and he's basically propelling himself forward running into nothingness, with a slight downhill tendency. 


bc without that forward.... well.... i mean, there was a lot we needed to work on haha
In fact, for a horse who is not built downhill, Charlie certainly had quite a talent for going downhill. In this shot we see another example of one fore leg outstretched and just about to land, while the other foreleg is still grounded. 

Pretty easy to imagine him dragging his hind legs on a little set of wheelies back there, right? lol...


gosh it's been so long.... this was charlie's last time in a show ring, last september. he was such a good boy <3
Flash forward nine months later and the horse is very comfortably carrying more weigh in his hind end. His whole top line has also become softer and rounder. 

While he's still bearing down a little bit in front and losing energy out the front door, the overall picture conveys more strength and balance in the gait. Also an overall sounder horse.

concentrating so hard. still such a good boy!
And just a few weeks later, the same horse is exhibiting even more of that strength by carrying himself in a much more uphill balance, with significantly more lift through the shoulder. (Even if he still likes to kick up literal clouds of dust with his dragging tootsies...)

This is possibly the best Charlie has ever looked, tbh.


in fairness he was actually a bit lame here and getting worse.... still trying tho!
Aaaaand then another five months and the horse has dropped off significantly in the strength department again (uh, the rider too haha). And as a result is looking more earthbound again. 

But we can still see the difference in his entire carriage from this stance. There's some lift through his shoulder and back, and the ability to shift weight onto his hind end, even if he's currently lacking a bit in engagement. 

He's certainly come a long way from his doggie wheelchair days!!! What strikes me the most by looking at pictures like this, particularly when comparing similar stances over time, is what a huge role strength plays in how Charlie can carry himself. He is at his absolute best when he's strong and fit. All the more motivation to try to stay consistent!


Do you have a favorite moment that you look for in trotting pictures? Do you always pick the same moments like I do to compare over time? What key factors are you looking for? The hind end? Reaching hind leg or hock engagement? The back or shoulder: lift, freedom, or range of motion? Head and neck position? Or just the general overall balance of the picture?

I'm always so curious to hear more about how others assess general conformation and the horse's way of going!

23 comments:

  1. Pictures of that last dressage test at fair hill still bring a happy tear to my eye! I love this screenshot analysis; I often use the same moment in trot as you do. Since Dino has always been fairly good at stepping well under himself with his hind legs, I look more at his withers and the base of his neck to see how much lift is going on there. He’s also great at faking being on the bit, so the base of his neck is usually a good indicator!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i love looking back on pics from that fair hill test too, such happy memories!! hopefully to repeat again this year! and yea the base of the neck is such a good indicator. it tells a lot of the story with charlie bc he spent ages and ages being dropped through his wither and neck too....

      Delete
  2. This was really cool to read through! The thought of sticking Charlie's neck on his hind end to make for a better picture seriously had me LOLing. I admit I'm not very picky when it comes to choosing pictures. Is the horse not *completely* falling down and am I not *completely* falling off? Good enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol i mean.... sometimes with charlie, not actually falling down and me not actually falling off is basically *the* bar to meet. i'm honestly legitimately sad that we never caught any of his really epic stumbles from the early days on camera.... aside from, ya know, that one little oopsie with the free jumping cavaletti haha....

      Delete
  3. Your favorite moment in the trot is exactly my favorite moment as well. I have so many pictures of that exact moment - it is definitely really useful for comparisons! My biggest factor in pictures is probably trying to pick the ones where Charmer isn't dragging me into the ground. He likes to bulldoze, and it makes for ugly pictures. It definitely has gotten considerably less in the last year or so though, as his strength significantly improved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol yea i think Charmer and Charlie may be similar in their bulldozer tendencies.... esp in the earliest days charlie was either high and braced or low and leaning. and that low 'n leaning was..... really not my favorite to ride!! like you say tho, developing strength in the horse goes a long way to fixing that!

      Delete
  4. I think spending time “just going forward” really paid off! It was an important stepping stone to the rest! His trot looks fantastic now and forward led to balance and strength. Way to go! I’m excited about June’s trot.. hopefully it is as nice tonrode as it is to look at!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea i think the "forward" aspect was hugely critical for charlie. it could/can be unnerving at times because sometimes it just leads to running off his feat in a seriously unbalanced way.... running faster than he could kinda keep up with, if that makes sense. as the horse has grown more educated about contact and being more round over his top line, it's grown a lot easier to hold his balance even as he steps forward and underneath himself.

      my guess, tho, is that June will be starting from a much easier place haha - charlie had no natural gifts in this department lol...

      Delete
  5. Most of my pictures are pulled from videos as well (My Coach's Eye is an awesome app for getting down to the nanosecond), and I love trot pictures the best. I like pulling pictures from various parts of the ride and seeing the difference from start to finish. My favorites tend to be trotting on a circle and you can see the bend through his body.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oooh good to know about that app! i have an iphone and previous versions allowed you to explode the timeline down to individual freeze frames to capture that perfect moment. the newer(notsonewanymore) version i have now tho doesn't allow for that and if the video is really long it's super hard to get just the right shot. also tho yea i like the pics that show nice examples of bend too!

      Delete
  6. Neat analysis. I rarely have media as I ride alone most of the time and I’ve never thought of doing something like this. I’m going to have to start!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man i am such a hound for media lol, i really do love to obsess and analyze every last little bit that i can haha. in fairness tho it does help me learn and develop my eye and feel. so i'm always a huge advocate for getting as many pictures (or video screen shots!) as possible!

      Delete
  7. I feel kind of stupid now, once upon a time we learn that the trot is a diagonal two beat gait and I never progressed beyond that! I'm going to start paying attention and seeing where the hind leg lands first. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha yea i kinda love digging into learning more about the mechanics of what we're working on... tho in fairness actually you are technically correct: the idea mechanics of trot do involve both of the diagonal pairs landing simultaneously. it's not necessarily *incorrect* per se if they're slightly offset (it's called diagonal advanced placement, ie DAP, and if you google that you WILL find that ppl seriously geek out over this stuff....) and it does lead to a nicer picture when the hind leg lands first, vs a less nice picture when the fore leg lands first. mostly tho, that's not exactly the part i care most about - since my last mare basically always and forever landed with her diagonal fore first, even when she was engaged and working over her back. the parts that matter the most to me are engagement and lift through the back and wither. all the same tho, it's fascinating to look more closely at all the pics!

      Delete
  8. I just about snorted tea so deep in my lungs it went into my bloodstream. 😂 I usually try to compare similar moments in a stride, but I can't say I'm as religious about it as you. Pig was so inconsistent, I just took whatever moment looked good. With Bast, there's more uniform moments to choose from, which is cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol i'm glad you enjoyed the pictures ;) i gotta admit i had a little too much fun choosing my favorite "before" shots..... and yea i hear ya on the inconsistency. charlie's always been a bit more consistent, tho that's not always the best thing in the world considering where we were starting from LOL

      Delete
  9. He was looking for money lost in the arena sand in pic #3 lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. he was looking for lost something, that's for sure haha

      Delete
  10. Oh Charlie! Digging for truffles in that pic #3 lolol. I like the same footfall as you do but I'm not as picky about whether it's the camera facing one or not. Most of my pics are that way and I actually try to switch up lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol yea sometimes switching it up is fun too - esp if there's a particularly humorous (or attractive, i suppose) moment or expression to capture. mostly tho i tend to gravitate to the same types of shots again and again

      Delete
  11. Oohh I love this! What a cool progression. It's neat to better understand all the small things you look for, too!

    I look for similar stills as yours, though I'm not as particular about which front leg is forward - though I may be now as that's a good idea for long-term comparison!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yay, I love progress pics like this! I am hard pressed to find a trot picture where I like Penn's outline and leg position. I more often find good canter pictures. I wonder what that means about the quality of his trot?! Haha!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I don't think I've ever actually tried to get a picture out of (the very few) videos I have haha! But I love the comparisons/progressions. And given the whole series of unfortunate events between the second-to-last and last picture, that seems pretty promising for when you get back at it!

    ReplyDelete