I enjoy showing my young horse in hand on the triangle for her to gain more show experience before riding.
A judge suggested that my filly has a lovely walk, but to work more on extending her walk in hand to show it off better.
I am a novice to the show ring as well.
Suggestions on how to get her to extend the walk in hand? I try walking myself with a longer stride (and I feel a little goofy, I am almost 6 foot, so I feel like I'm looking like a stork sometimes), but I feel like the filly just takes an additional walk stride instead of extending the stride she was on.
I thought thought it might be something easy to work on during the winter.
Any thoughts or insight for this show ring newbie?
I don't have much to add, but at 6' tall, you should be able to train your horse's front legs to match your legs, and your legs should be able to produce a very nice walk stride! I suggest teaching her to match your stride with her front legs. You can dictate this by walking with her at her shoulder and teaching her to follow your varying steps, or over poles of lengthened strides or by having someone behind you with a whip to encourage her to step out when you step out. If she's smart, she'll figure it out quickly and will learn to follow your lengthened walk.
Start by shortening your stride to match hers. Listen (do not look) for a true four beat rhythm. I use "one and two and three and four and" repeated to help make sure that the rhythm is pure. Once you have the rhythm established gradually extend your stride but stay in the same rhythm. You may feel a bit like a cartoon character but your horse will extend to match you. If she breaks rhythm, bring her back to the smaller strides and try again. It gives them (and us) good practice for when they are under saddle.
I know that one of the top handlers does suggest lots of hand walking at a brisk but not fast pace to strengthen the walk in youngsters. If the horse is used to walking in hand(relaxed) and is attentive to you, you will be able to shorten and lengthen the stride as your horses improves fitness. My own baby as a yearling and two year old took some conditioning to remain swinging and relaxed regardless of the fact that she spent hours a day ramming around the field at a trot and gallop. As the horse gains conditioning it will be better able to extend through the walk.