Do you ever use poles to help your horse THINK where his feet are?
Most horses do not think they have big honking hooves at the end of their spindly legs. Help your horse out by educating him on where his feet are. Use placing poles to help establish a comfortable forward walk.
What the Judge Hates to See
As a senior judge, I have judged in the ‘trenches’ at schooling and training shows and at the other end of the spectrum as well and I can tell you, the first impression is a walk!
To improve your walk, get the horse moving forward. As the video says, they should be over tracking.
How to Improve The Walk
Walking aimlessly around doesn’t offer much to the horse. This just confirms in his mind he is doing the correct thing. Riding the walk is not a holiday! He must push forward and stride forward purposefully. Start by placing poles at various locations in your riding space. If you are riding on a circle place them at the 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions. This gives you focus and gives the horse an opportunity to lift up his feet.
After the horse is walking over the poles quietly you can place them approximately 9 feet apart. So rather than having them at the 12, 3 and 6 position you can place them in a row, 9 feet apart. This is designed to help the horse get confidence over poles and to teach them how to pick up their feet.
Believe it or not, some horses do get anxious over a simple pole, so make sure you get the horse comfortable walking over poles before you set off on further jumping adventures.
Improve the Walk Even More
If you find you would like to improve the walk even more, give your horse more confidence and strengthen your horse, raise the poles slightly. Raising the poles offers the horse ample opportunity to raise his legs. This is often an over looked opportunity. Raising their hooves at a walk is similar to marching for us. It engages the muscles they require for jumping, dressage and other equestrian sports. Offering simple exercises which enhance the use of the leg lifting muscle and get it and keep it stronger for longer.