trying to relax at the walk

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trying to relax at the walk

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  • Teach horse to relax
  • Getting a relaxed walk frrom a horse

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    01-01-2011, 01:03 AM
Question trying to relax at the walk

I've found that my horse is not very relaxed at the walk with contact. He has a lovely swinging walk if I give him his head ( 0 contact, holding the reins at the buckle) yet the moment I start collect those reins, he sort of " bounces " back and forth between the reins and shortens his stride. More leg results in him moving his legs faster or a trot. Any advice on how to teach him to relax in the contact at a walk?
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    01-01-2011, 05:41 PM
My horse does the same thing! Best thing to do is breath..... relax your lower back and sit deep and breath...... don't anticipate a transition up to trot. Do a lot of on the bit of the bit exercises at the walk to so your horse learns that he can walk on the bit and that he doesnt have to go up into the trot or change the gait that he has. Normally when a horse start becoming tense and want to go forward it can be the rider becoming tense. Just be mindful of breathing and releasing your lower back.
    01-01-2011, 06:05 PM
Try some subtle lateral work. Slight shoulder-fore, a mini leg yield in the corners, anything that will help unlock his stiff spots and get him into that outside rein.
    01-01-2011, 06:16 PM
I agree with Puck, if the horse gets tense then bring the lateral aspect into the reins, and start asking for more bend, but ease up on the outside rein at first. I mean, just ask with the inside for a give and then release and give and release. When you get that, shortenthe outside gradually and start asking for him to give the inside and step into the outside.
Some horses get tense if both reins are in equal pressure. They feel claustrophobic, so having one rein loose helps.
    01-01-2011, 06:48 PM
Can you clarify on how lateral work helps? I have tried it on my horse and my horse gets stiffer....
    01-01-2011, 07:04 PM
Lateral work always helps a stiff horse. Having the horse step under himself with the rear leg will be step one of the two step process that brings a horse's weight momentarily onto his hind legs. Take your horse on the halter, stand in front of him look at his inside hind and while backing him , focus on making that inside hind STEP UNDER and to the inside (right under the mass of his belly) When he does this you should see a very slight "lean" of his whole body rearward as he puts weigth onto that inside hind and the next step will be outside hind stepping over. If he has really rocked back onto his hind legs, then you can ask him to step his inside front leg over (to the inside, or same side as the inside hind was on). THis is an excellend excersize for softening a horse.

If your horse gets stiffer during lateral work, you may be "freezing" your aids when asking him to step over. Your lateral aid needs to be times with his inside hind stepping in/over (just like doing it on the halter) and your leg pressure comes on and off as the horse steps over. It is like your aids for lateral movement must "breathe" with the horse as he rythmically steps over.

Get two steps over and then let the horse move forward.
That would be my guess as to why your horse gets tens in lateral work. Like I said in an earlier post, if the horse gets tense, don't try to corral him inside TWO tight reins, have one active rein and one supporting rein and the contact can be different. That helps the horse not feel the need to resist. And in the extreme, if the horse was totally running through the reins, you would drop the outside rein and pick up the inside and really bend the horse around until the hind end steps under and the "engine" is derailed from the tracks. The so-called "one rein stop".
    01-01-2011, 08:25 PM
For me, when my horse is stiff or locked up somewhere, it's because he is traveling dead straight. What lateral work does is put him into the proper bend, which allows for his parts to unlock and the half halts to go through. Like tinyliny said, be sure you're not blocking him at the same time you ask him to step under himself. The inside rein in particular needs to be giving as to not block his shoulder.
    01-01-2011, 11:37 PM
Huhh.... I think my horse is different... that definitely doesnt not make her stiff... I understand where your coming from though! My mare is pretty young and gets pissy quickly and doing lateral work make her pissy. I definetly already breathe with the aids and I only do it for 2-3 strides and go straight, which tends to make her more pissy... I guess she is just a really really really hard horse.... When I want to softener her though I just tend to work on the bend of a circle and she tend to relax to the bend. Also any leg aid I apply 90% she think it means go, which is something she is slowly growing out of I think... : /
    01-09-2011, 12:59 AM
Hmmm Bandera... maybe learn to ride correct laterals and your mare won't get stiff in them. I have ridden my fair share of horses, my own, my client's and my friend's, from welsh ponies, to standies, to tb's, to wb's and so on, and every single one that has had a stiffness 'issue', was resolved by using lateral work.

contact, walk

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