Why do you begin piaffe so early?
In the beginning it is a gymnastic tool and done in hand. We are not trying to achieve an immediate correct piaffe but it is one of the best gymnastic exercises to teach the horse to bend the joints in the hindlegs, begin to carry more weight on the hindlegs and to engage the back and stomach muscles. The same thing one is asking for when we ask the horse to collect (albeit to a lesser degree). It is easier for a horse to start developing these abilities in-hand without the weight of the rider and begin the correct muscle development that makes collection easier. So it makes sense to us that a horse start to develop these abilities, muscling and the understanding of the aids that indicate that we would like more engagement, before we start to ask the horse to collect under saddle. Collection then becomes a natural progression.