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Harmony is born out of a genuine empathy for the horse and a compassionate awareness of the mental and physical impact of the work on the horse.

 
DAP or Diagonal Advanced Placement

 

By Tonja Dausend 

A brief description:

DAP, also called diagonal dissociation, is an abbreviation for diagonal advanced placement. While trotting, DAP describes one foot of a diagonal pair landing a fraction of a second before the other foot. DAP is said to be positive (+DAP) when the hind foot in a diagonal pair lands a fraction of a second before the front foot. DAP is said to be negative (-DAP) when the front foot in a diagonal pair lands a fraction of a second before the hind foot. A horse is said to have zero DAP (0 DAP) when the diagonal pair lands together.

Some Details:

Some consider +DAP (diagonal dissociation) to be a desirable trait for today’s dressage competition horses. However, there are classical masters, both past and present, who consider +DAP to be an impurity of the gait. Even though the actual placement of the +DAP steps themselves may be invisible to the naked eye, other visual symptoms such as imbalance and tension can be clearly visible. In addition, +DAP strides are audible. The classical masters did not need the marvels of modern technology to recognize +DAP; they could hear it. You can hear +DAP interval simulations for yourself: http://www.ridingart/+dap_sounds.htm

The assumption is that the hind hoof lands a fraction of a second before the diagonal fore and that both feet then leave the ground at the same time. But this is vary rarely ever the case. What is far more frequently seen (even in the top competition rides) is that when the hind hoof lands first the forehand continues forward until the forehoof lands, causing the horse to be out behind. When watching video of the top dressage competition horses +DAPing in slow motion it is very often noticeable that the front end of the horse is slowed down in relation to the hind end. The forehand is basically a fraction of a beat behind the hindquarters throughout the stride. There seems to be a correlation between the amount of +DAP and the length of time the front hoof is left on the ground after the hind hoof has taken off. When the diagonal pair land together they usually leave the ground together. When the hind hoof lands well in advance of the front hoof, the front hoof is usually grounded relatively longer. When the hind hoof lands barely in advance of the front hoof, the front hoof usually ends up grounded but not as long as when the +DAP is greater.

At Issue:

When a horse has one front hoof planted in the ‘trot’ and the hind hooves have already lifted off (a prevalent phase of the +DAP stride, even at top levels of competition!) the horse is not through. The hind legs go straight and push the croup upward. The haunches are not in a position to help carry the forehand. Additionally, the croup is not engaged so the horse is hollow behind the saddle. The energy sends the shoulders horizontally forward/downward instead of lifting. The forelegs then do the lifting. See the photographs below.

When the horse’s stifle extends before the shoulder is ready to catch the lift, the shoulders miss the lifting wave of energy created by the haunches (throughness), granted if only by a fraction of a second but they still miss the wave. Again, it becomes the front end that does all of the work of lifting the shoulders, head and neck and not the haunches. The horse is on the forehand.

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Tonja’s DAP Sequence of Four Photos

(Click for Larger Photo)

Diagonal Advanced Landing Diagonal Support Phase 1
In DAP the front end is often a fraction of a beat behind the hind end. Here, the left hind leg has grounded while the right fore is still in the air. The hind hoof flipping out behind her is a tell tale sign that the haunches are pushing and not lifting.
Diagonal Support Phase 2 Diagonal Advanced Liftoff
The hind legs go straight and push the croup upward. The croup is not engaged so the horse is hollow behind the saddle. The energy pushes the shoulders horizontally forward/downward instead of lifting. She is not honestly through. When the horse’s stifle extends before the shoulder is ready to catch the lift, the shoulders miss the lifting wave of energy created by the haunches (throughness), granted if only by a fraction of a second but they still miss the wave. The forelegs will be doing all of the lifting of the front end on their own. The horse is clearly on the forehand.
 

©2005 Tonja Dausend

 

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last updated April, 2008