Originally Posted by tlkng1
My trainer started with the basics..establish relaxed and long before going for impulsion. We started with the shortest rein where the horse was loosened up and striding properly, essentially at the buckle when we started. The idea was to keep the relaxation and allowing the withers and shoulders to move freely using just enough aids to keep the horse moving without changing pace. Once that was down, I still start with the long rein but slowly shorten them, again, maintaining the same looseness and pace. Once I started to shorten my trainer added in the impulsion aids, alternate side squeezing with the calf and holding the outside rein to contain the forward movement (not allow speeding up in the pace) to encourage and maintain the more open stride.
What a wonderful way to start!
I've recently gone back to riding on the buckle, trying to regain the relaxation and looseness that got lost somewhere along the line. The canter is still the most troublesome: she gets tense, and I don't feel safe with reins that long. But we're working it out.
I don't worry about the quality of the walk. Far too soon. I think "strolling along" is good; or are you pacing? Sometimes walking in deep footing can help regularize the walk steps. If I can move from big-walk to slow-walk, I'm happy.