Short version: when I walk my horse, she wants to have her right shoulder just touching my left. I think - and my knowledgeable friend agrees - that there should be some separation, enough to keep feet and hooves apart. So how do I teach her to keep that distance? Or is it something I need to teach myself?
For a bit of background: I've been going on trail "rides" with the friend for years. I put rides in quotes, because she (and various friends) ride horses, while I'd walk/run or sometimes ride a mountain bike. She kept nagging me to get a horse, so last fall I finally gave in.
Ellie (the horse) is a 17 year old Anglo-Arab mare. She hadn't been ridden for several years, but friend knew her, said she was good horse for beginner, and the little I rode her last fall seemed to confirm that. However, over the winter she started having hoof problems from weather and incorrect trimming, but she's improving and now needs to be walked to get her back into shape for riding.
The problem, as above, is this touching thing. When we walk in an open field, I'll be trying to keep a foot or so of space, she constantly keeps inching back, I move over to keep distance, and so we wind up going around in a big counter-clockwise circle. She doesn't push at all, you understand, it's like she just wants that contact. She'll often do the same in the corral: move to stand so her shoulder's just touching mine - but my friend, and friend's not-really-a-horseperson husband, can walk her with a good separation. So I can't help but wonder if it's something I've inadvertently done, or not done, that got her to do it with me.
Any suggestions as to what should I do (or look at) for training? I expect to be walking her a lot, both for her rehabilitation and later on the trail (because I'm honestly not all that thrilled with the idea of just riding all the time. I think I'm too big for her, and I'd miss getting the exercise), and I really don't need a half-ton of horse stepping on my toes