You will ride the horse at the walk often in your beginning riding lessons which is the slowest of the gaits. The walk is a 4 beat gait, for example; left hind then left front, and then right hind, right front.Even as you get more experienced in your riding you will continue at times to walk your horse. Walking is good for relaxation, warming up your horse, learning new movements, giving your horse a break and cooling your horse down.
In this post I will share with you what a good walk looks like, how to ask the horse to walk, how to move with the horse at the walk, how to ask the horse to move more forward, how to ask the horse to stop from the walk.
What does a good walk look like?
The horse should be marching along and he should be actively stepping forward with his hind legs. You want the back feet to step on or over the hoof print of the front feet. The horses belly will sway side to side and the horse’s head will bob up and down with each stride.
Common Errors In The Walk
The horse is excited and starts to jigs or prance.
The rider restricts the horses movement with stiff unyielding hands.
The horse lacks energy and drags his toes.
How To Ask The Horse To Walk On
So your horse is standing at the halt. You want to prepare and signal subtly to your horse that you are going to ask for a transition. Gather up your reins, Look where you want your horse to go and stretch tall to lighten your seat bones.
2) Signal horse to Walk on:
Close both of your calves on the horse’s sides and pulse with your calves, as this creates more energy than just one long squeeze. Yield your reins slightly while still maintaining contact.
As soon as the horse walks on relax your seat and calves. Follow the movement of the walk.
TIP: Breathing in lightens your seat. Breathing out deepens your seat. So for upward transition think breathing in and getting lighter.
Riding The Walk
I know there is a lot to think about with riding. All the different signals as well as just trying to stay balanced and on the horse. So I will try to keep it simple. Remember these three things when riding the walk, position, hands and seat.
This is usually universally taught. You want to align your body into the correct position, which will help you stayed balanced while riding. Imagine a straight line going down from your ear to shoulder to hip to heel. Imagine that each body part is a building block and you have to keep them all stacked up or they will fall down.
As the horse is walking your hands need to move with the horse by maintaining elasticity in the elbows. As the horse’s head moves forward, the elbows should open. When the horse’s head comes back up the elbows should close. This allows for a consistent, contact with the horse’s mouth.
You should allow your seat to move with the horse forward and back and side to side while keeping your upper body stable and tall.
These three things will help the horse to walk fluidly and without resistance from the rider.
How To Get The Lazy Horse To Walk Forward
Most beginner riders get put on the calm, lazier horses when they are just starting out. Like I said earlier you don’t want the horse lacking energy and dragging his feet. Asking the horse to move forward into a marching walk is very similar to asking the horse to walk on from the halt.
Lighten your seat, yield the reins a little and pulse with your calves on the horses sides. If the horse is not responding you may have to squeeze harder, if that doesn’t working use your heels, and if that doesn’t work give him a kick or several good kicks.
Your signals should get progressively stronger and be clear to the horse that you want him to move forward. Once the horse responds and moves off relax and follow the movement. If the horse slows down again repeat but start with the lightest signal first and progressively get stronger if you have to.
NEVER START OFF WITH THE STRONGEST AIDS. THIS CAN DESENSITIZE THE HORSE AND HE CAN BECOME DULL TO THE AIDS OR JUST ANNOYED.
How To Ask The Horse To Stop From The Walk
I have written a post about the halt. Among other things, it teaches you how to halt from the walk. YOU CAN GO TO THIS POST BY CLICKING THE PICTURE BELOW.
COMMENT BELOW: WHAT KIND OF HORSE/ HORSE’S DO YOU RIDE… LAZY, ENERGETIC OR IN THE MIDDLE? ANY TROUBLES WITH THE WALK?
Cheers and God Bless!