Working on the walk
QI’ve heard that walking is the ‘neglected gait’ in dressage. How can I fine tune it? Marline Fenn, Luton Lizzie says... Walk is generally considered to be the easiest pace to damage and the hardest to fix, so it’s a good idea to work on it when you can. In a good walk, the judge is looking for a clear, four-beat rhythm and wants to see a clear V-shape made by the front and hind legs. This means that the same legs on one side of the horse are under his body at the same time (see diagram below). Small improvements here and there can make a big difference to your overall ride, so don’t neglect to fine tune it.
3 ways to improve the walk
Most damage is done to the walk when the horse’s forwardness is restricted (or collected) too much. Keep your contact light but supportive, and allow the walk to be forward and active. A free walk on a long rein should be just that, but your reins must be long enough to allow your horse to bend his head and neck, without being so loose that you have no connection to the bit. Correcting the walk is best done out hacking because this is when your horse will be moving forwards naturally.
The perfect walk has a V-shape to it and means the horse is striding out correctly
Your position influences the walk too. Sit up straight, push your weight into both heels and make sure your weight is evenly balanced in the saddle. Keep your elbows in and your thumbs on top of your reins.