Horse won't walk
I'm currently riding a young Thoroughbred, he's doing really well, and he's a quick learner. But I just ran into this problem, he doesn't like to walk. He'll walk when I first get out to the arena on a loose rein, but as soon as a shorten my reins and get into work mode, he starts to pick up a trot. He'll also start to trot if other horses trot or canter past him.
What I've been doing is giving and taking with my outside rein, and telling him to walk, when I feel him starting to change gaits. Then when he calms down and walks I pat him and just go along with what we were working on. That worked for about 2 days. So, then I tried stopping him and backing up every time he felt like he was going to trot...he'll stop fine, he'll back up 2 steps then we walk on, but he'll just pick up a trot 2 seconds later. It's a little frustrating to me because I won't let him trot or canter until he is relaxed at the walk. It feels like I take my whole time making him walk and I can't do anything else. I know I should be patient, but he's been like this for about a month now.
I don't know what else to do to correct this..any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
I've had the exact same problem with my mare. Here's what worked for me: my mare has tons of energy so I lunged her to get some of the sillies out before riding. This is a great time to work on your bond and have him listening to voice commands too. After he is a bit more tired mount and walk on a loose rein for a bit. You said he walks calmly on a loose rein (my mare does too) so praise him big time for walking, even though he always does. Now pick up the reins. If he trots turn him I'm a tight circle and then halt. Wait for about 20-30 seconds then back up a few steps. Halt again for 20-30 seconds and ask for the walk. It took me about 2 weeks of this (working about 45 minutes a day) to get my mare to walk calmly. She's incredibly stubborn though so hopefully it's faster for you! The circle is what really helped drive it home with my mare, not just the halting and backing up. Remember to remain calm and sit a bit looser in the saddle than you normal would. Hope this works for you!
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Forgot to add: BIG praise when he walks calmly. Like way over the top praise. Horses seem to respond really well to this. Praise him even if it is only a couple steps in the walk. He'll understand pretty quickly!
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Same thing happened to me with my OTTB mare. We worked only in the walk for a month, without any trot or canter work. We did bending exercises, haunches in/haunches out, leg yeilds, etc. At the end of the month we gradually began incorporating w/t transitions into our work, but kept the ride mostly in walk. eventually she learned that she had to stay calm. It took a really long time, but it was worth it in the end!
Thanks..I'll try circling him. He's actually very calm a little on the lazy side. I think he is anticipating what I'm going to ask. I'll do more walking with him. I've been also walking when everyone else in the ring is cantering or trotting..then I would trot or canter when everyone else was walking. He sometimes slows down and tries and stop every time he passed someone else walking. But I have an easier time keeping him moving.
Erika I think you are right it sounds like he is anticipating your commands. Definitely work with him more at the walk, specifically switching up walking on long vs. short reins since he seems to think that shortening = trot. Agree with Dezzi to bend and circle - always keep him guessing what you are going to do so he doesn't get bored. You probably already know this but as a sidenote, it is easier for them to start trotting as opposed to actually working in the walk. Romeo (also an OTTB so I feel your pain) will break into a trot when I really ask him to push through at the walk as a way of saying its too darn hard and he just wants to shuffle around. Sounds like you are doing the right things. Good luck!
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