I have had my Missouri Fox Trotter almost two years, but the first year she was pregnant and then nursing a foal, so even though I rode her, I couldn't get much riding in that first year. Not like I am now anyway.
So this summer I've been really riding and enjoying her. I have read a bunch of stuff on the internet since I am sorta new to gaited horses, and they suggest that the best way to find your horse's natural gait is to really "work" the flat walk. Condition the horse by riding the flat walk and eventually if you keep working at it, the horse will eventually start slipping into it's natural intermediate gait. Okay, so we've been doing that. Flat walking and sort of pushing it at the flat walk, followed by some regular walking to let her rest, then working the flat walk again.
So my question is this. How am I supposed to keep pressure on her to flat walk and encourage a slight amount of speed and collection at the flat walk? Going away from home I have to keep squeezing my calves on her constantly (because she's a little barn sour). I can really feel it in my buns! I wear spurs, but I don't want to keep spur pressure on her constantly, I just use them for a little pressure and release. So I have been riding mainly with calf pressure, and I feel like I am going to get a knot in my buttocks! Is that the right way to push the walk, or am I missing something? As soon as I release the leg pressure, she drops down to a dog walk, so it's like I have to keep pushing to keep the flat walk going.
Will I just devolope buns of steel, or am I going about things wrong? What is the best way to encourage and keep her at a flat walk?
And do you think if we practice this, it will help develope her intermediate gait? She has all sorts of gaits, but I have trouble holding her at any of them for any length of time. So I don't really care if she developes a Fox Trot, running walk, stepping pace or what, but I would like to eventually be able to hold her to one of them when I want to ride an intermediate gait. Is practicing/pushing the flat walk the best game plan for finding her intermediate gait?
Really the flat walk is one of my favorite gaits anyway, and I'm used to trotting horses so I'm not really picky on which gaits she does, they all make me giggle! But it would be cool to slip into something faster without going into a hard trot or hard pace if you know what I mean.