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How To Ride The Perfect Walk

This four-beat gait should have a clear, even rhythm.

March 20, 2020

Every rider should strive to master the walk with their horse. It sets the foundation for the rest of the gaits. In this four-beat pace, the hooves evenly fall and take off one at a time- left hind, left front, right hind, and right front. This movement will send you side to side and front to back in the saddle. It’s important you learn how to ride it!

The Working Walk

Most western performance classes will require a working walk. A working gait is your horse’s normal pace. They should be balanced and have rhythm with slight impulsion. Be careful your horse doesn’t get pacey or jig! On the other hand, a horse that is moving too slowly with drag their hooves. Try to find a comfortable middle.

The horse will have a relaxed back, swinging tail, and slight head nod.

How to Ride It

  • Stay relaxed
  • Swing with your horse’s movement
  • Your body should sway from side to side

The Extended Walk

When extending the walk, your horse should lengthen their stride. This is not a quickening of the legs. Their legs and neck will stretch forward and reach more. You should notice the hind hooves stepping over the print of the coordinating fore hooves.

How to Ride It

  • Press your left leg into your horse’s side as their left front leg comes back
  • Release the pressure momentarily
  • Then press your right leg into their barrel as their right front leg comes back
  • Develop a rhythm that encourages your horse to move with energy

The Collected Walk

The collected walk covers less ground, but has the same four beats. Your horse will need to shorten their steps. It may be helpful to imagine them marching!

How to Ride It

  • Stay centered in the saddle and sit up straight
  • Encourage impulsion through your legs and core muscles
  • Absorb this energy with light contact on the reins

The walk is an excellent starting point in training. It allows you to advance your skills in a slower gait.

Make sure to check out ‘The Power Of Riding With Your Seat‘.

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