Speed does not create forward movement. In fact, a horse increases the speed stiffening the back muscles. The question may be, when forward movement stop and speed commences? Studies have been done about the concept of the horse’s natural cadence. One researched focused on oxygen intake. For a given oxygen intake, there is a speed where the horse covers a greater distance. The other study focused on muscle fatigue. For instance, at a fast walk, a horse consumes more muscular energy than at a slow trot. The horse natural cadence is the cadence where the horse’s metabolism functions at maximum efficiency consuming minimum muscular work.
Each horse does have his own cadence. Speed is faster that the horse’s natural cadence. Each time Chazot is finding his natural cadence, the movement is more fluid and the trot becomes longer and more rhythmic.
Earlier on we were talking about a rising trot where the rider’s tights and knees are moving downward allowing the rider seat to remain close from the saddle. The technique permits to slow the rider’s body movements suggesting to the horse to slow down the cadence of the trot until the horse finds the comfort of his natural cadence. For some horses the natural cadence will be slower. For other horses the natural cadence will be faster. The common denominator for every horse is the feeling of ease, suspension, amplitude and rhythm.
The search for the horse’s natural cadence needs to be done with long reins and minimum contact. If the nose is pushing on the bit, his back will be contracted and he will be unable to achieve the back muscles’ coordination leading the natural cadence. Jean Luc Cornille