Improving free walk?
I'm working on turning my hunter into an eventer, and we have a really low-key event coming up this weekend :-) We've been doing a ton of flatwork in preparation for the dressage part, but the one thing we've been struggling is is our free walk. The second I give Roxy her head she jerks the rest of the reins out of my hands and starts zigzagging all over. I know I need to keep her straight using leg pressure, but do you guys have any tips to help keep her straighter and still listening to me despite not having contact? Thanks!
What does the test say.
Free walk on a loose rein or free walk on a long rein?
I don't think it says... But I would assume loose rein because it says full freedom of neck?
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The purpose of the free walk is to show good relaxation and ground cover. To me the non specificity of the test as to whether the free walk is on a long or loose rein means they the rider needs only to ride the movement as to best show the free walk.
When schooling you must not let the horse jerk the reins out of your grip. Let the reins go very incrementally and maintain the contact. It is useful if the horse is used to the whip to give a tap when the horse jerks the reins, and remember to continue riding throughout the movement with your leg and seat to keep the walk active and reaching for the contact. For now, keep the horse on a contact with long reins. As she learns to be more responsive to you in the free walk, the reins can be longer.
The free walk is a physical break for the horse, not a mental time out to lala land. Keep this in mind.
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Lots and lots of seat. And the generic legs, that's pretty much all I've got for you!
Okay, thanks guys!
How about working the walk on trails/soft roads? It would encourage the horse to just follow the road straight and you can work on using your seat to move the horse sideways or to add impulsion etc. Working with the rein-pulling should be just as easy on a trail as in an arena. Once it works there, it's probaby a lot easier to keep her/his attention in the arena and keep it all straight.
I agree 100% with anebel. Also when i do free walk i pretend we ared done and walking it out, otherwise i guess im still a little tense and rena breaks into the trot. :)
Thanks! Zab, I've actually been doing work on trails. When we walk back we go through a big cornfield and Roxy has really been getting a wonderful walk through there. She'll stretch her head down and really walk forward. It's a shame she doesn't move that nicely in the ring, but we're working on her.
We had our first event last weekend, and we did great in dressage! It wasn't the most gorgeous test, but considering neither me or Roxy have ever actually done dressage I was quite happy with it. We actually got one of the highest scores in our division! :)
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