Ground Reaction Forces of Dressage Horses Performing the Piaffe

Clayton, Hilary Mary and Hobbs, Sarah Jane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1552-8647 (2021) Ground Reaction Forces of Dressage Horses Performing the Piaffe. Animals, 11 (436).

[thumbnail of Version of Record]
PDF (Version of Record) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL:


The piaffe is an artificial, diagonally coordinated movement performed in the highest levels of dressage competition. The ground reaction forces (GRFs) of horses performing the piaffe do not appear to have been reported. Therefore, the objective of this study was to describe three-dimensional GRFs in ridden dressage horses performing the piaffe. In-ground force plates were used to capture fore and hindlimb GRF data from seven well-trained dressage horses. Peak vertical GRF was significantly higher in forelimbs than in the hindlimbs (7.39 ± 0.99 N/kg vs. 6.41 ± 0.64 N/kg; p 0.001) with vertical impulse showing a trend toward higher forelimb values. Peak longitudinal forces were small with no difference in the magnitude of braking or propulsive forces between fore and hindlimbs. Peak transverse forces were similar in magnitude to longitudinal forces and were mostly directed medially in the hindlimbs. Both the intra- and inter-individual variability of longitudinal and transverse GRFs were high (coefficient of variation 25–68%). Compared with the other diagonal gaits of dressage horses, the vertical GRF somewhat shifted toward the hindlimbs. The high step-to-step variability of the horizontal GRF components is thought to reflect the challenge of balancing on one diagonal pair of limbs with no forward momentum.

Repository Staff Only: item control page