Work­ing on the walk

Your Horse (UK) - - ASK THE EXPERTS -

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.

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