Even in the lessonless Lockdown I can still hear my coach, Belinda Trussell’s voice in my head every time I am working with Biasini. In the downward transitions to walk she is saying “Could you piaffe?” If I think I cannot it means I do not have him connected enough. So then she would be saying. “Tap,tap,tap,tap.” That means a tap on his side with the inside of my ankle or my heel. This is not a thump or a jab with spurs. It is just a tap. And when Belinda says it she does not say tap… tap….tap. It’s taptaptaptaptaptaptaptap. How many taps can I do in a second. It better be at least TWO! I can do that speed at the walk. But trot and canter my taps are not quite fast enough.
But does this tapping work? YES! When I get my ankles speed tapping at the walk the piaffe is right there. Even my slightly slower taps at the trot and canter engage Biasini and his expression improves tremendously.
Here is a video of Charlotte Dujardin and her horse Valegro at the Rio 2016 Olympics. If you go to minute 6:51 you will see her doing a piaffe pirouette. This is their gold medal winning Freestyle and they held the world record for the Grand Prix freestyle. Valegro is now retired but their record still stands! Watch the whole thing as it is an example of dressage at its best. But be sure to watch from minute 6:51 and watch Charlottes ankles as she does the pirouette.
As you can see she is doing the super speed tap. Yes! And this is the Individual Gold Medal winning ride of the Rio 2016 Olympics. I will never need to be tapping Biasini around two piaffe pirouettes but this video certainly demonstrates that those rapid fire taps are magic! So I will keep working on my tapping speed because Belinda clearly has the right idea.