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Lateral Walk ...

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  • Lateral Walk ...

    I want to preface this post by stating that I am not a dressage person, and have very limited knowledge of the discipline, so I apologize in advance if my post sounds stupid or ignorant, but any insight would be much appreciated

    I have a Hanoverian that I show in the jumpers - I very much enjoy this and don't plan on giving up jumping any time in the near future. However, I thought it might be interesting to take a few dressage lessons and perhaps even compete at a lower level.

    I think that my horse would make a fairly decent dressage horse except that he has a lateral walk. Obviously this has never been an issue in the jumpers but I am fairly certain that it is a huge "no-no" in dressage. So my question is:

    1) If I were to do a dressage show would the lateral walk be absolutely horrificly embarrassing - and you can be totally honest with me here. I recognize that with it, I won't be the winner, but how horrible is it?

    2) Obviously if I were to pursue dressage and showing a bit I would take some lessons from a dressage trainer, but anyone have any suggestions of how to "cure" the lateral walk.


  • #2
    To answer your first question it would depend on where you were going to a dressage show and what the competition was like. Lateral walks are bad news. You will get a bad score for any walk movement. If you are just going to play and this is the horse you have then I would still do it. You won't be laughed out of the arena and you probably will not be the only pair there sporting a lateral walk.

    To correct a lateral walk: I rode someone's horse that had a bad one. If you kept him in a perpetual state of shoulder fore or shoulder in then his walk was fine. I don't think there is any way to "correct" it once it is ingrained in a horse.


    • #3
      There are ways to ride to cover, hide, or manage a lateral walk to make it better- but you will never change the horses natural tendency to walk laterally when not being actively managed by the rider. Your success with managing it may vary- I've seen some horses get much better when ridden a certain way, and some barely change with an olympic rider up.

      However... who cares. If you want to show this horse at training level and have fun- a lateral walk won't make a difference. At the end of the day, you get your test back from the judge with a score and comment for each movement - 0 to 10. You may gets a 3 or 4 for any movement where his walk is lateral, maybe a 5 or 6 if you cover it up well.

      Don't expect to win any classes with a 3 or 4 for each walk score, but you can certainly get a 60 on a horse with a bad walk if your trot and canter work is good. More importantly, you can get really helpful comments from the judge on your trot and canter work, and how to make it better. And you can set goals for yourself, like improving your trot-canter transition score or getting all 6s on your trot work.

      As long as you manage your expectations, no one will care. Most likely, no one but the judge will even notice. Some people will be on greenies, and their only goal will be to stay in the ring and ride out any spooks. Go in with your own goal and be proud when you achieve it.

      Start at a schooling show, or in an opportunity class at a rated show, and see what you think. If you like it, then worry about memberships and rated shows.

      There are plenty of schooling shows in NJ, even a few left this fall. The ESDCTA website has a calendar on their website.


      • #4
        I have gaited horses so I know me some lateral walks

        My big lazy SSH mare greatly resembles a camel in her walk when loose in the pasture. Introducing her to all the lateral maneuvers, from leg yielding to shoulder in to haunches in to shoulder fore (not a maneuver of course but a shape) it piques her interest, makes her think, which gets her engaged...which engages her body...which largely cleans up her walk into a pretty, purposeful shape and pleasing, even 1 2 3 4 walk.

        Will your scores suffer along the way? sure. So what? Nail the snot out of X in your halts, ride the fool out of your corners and actually describe a circle in your circles, not eggs or octagons... your walks won't get great scores so make up for it elsewhere. Go, learn, have huge fun.

        Go have fun, and let us know how it goes PS- me and my gaited horse, riding the NWHA gaited tests, managed to walk away with blues and some high point ribbons at several schooling shows this year, our first year showing in dressage. Yep, beat all the trotting horses on their trotting patterns. Go Figure. I didn't expect anything, and it may never happen again...point being- don't walk in there hanging your head. If you're going to go, go with a smile and a happy heart


        • #5
          I have one who can get lateralish when he gets tense and tight through his back. When he is relaxed over the top line it is not there. I seem to get it right after downward transitions (no doubt because I have screwed up the transition....)

          I find lateral work helps a ton. I frequently do a small circle after a downward transition, get my correct bend and then take a few steps of shoulder in or even just shoulder fore, and then go straight. Sometimes even just one two steps of leg yield works like pushing a reset button. If he feels like he is about to go lateral but I catch it in time just asking for a leg yield (but stopping before the sideways movement starts) will fix the rhythm.

          Lateral work is good for jumpers so it is a win win opportunity for improvement anyway.

          It is a big dressage no no and your walk scores will suffer but no one will make you wear a scarlet L for lateral on your jacket if you decide to show!


          • #6
            First of all, even if your horse has the most hideous lateral walk ever seen (which I doubt) nobody is going to laugh you out of the arena.
            Have YOU ever laughed at a hunter that blew a change? Or a mocked a jumper rider that went off course? No. People won't laugh you out of the ring for a lateral walk either.

            Secondly, it's one gait. Rather than dwelling on the negatives, go in the ring and showcase what your horse does well. As a jumper, I'm sure he'll EXCEL at the canter lengthening and coming back to working canter. I am sure as a jumper rider who is used to navigating courses you can play up your security in the saddle, effectiveness of your aids, and ride a very accurate test. So go in there and plan on showcasing your strengths, and the walk... c'est la vie.

            Thirdly, lateral walks can be improved. I know a horse who took his rider to PSG that had a lateral walk -and the rider with help from dressage professionals improved that walk to the point it even got some decent scores. It took some work and some dedication, and it will be up to you whether it matters to you enough to dedicate training time to this one issue, but if you set your mind to it you can probably improve it.
            The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
            Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
            The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY