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How much walking do you do in your routine?

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  • #41
    I sit on a fair number of horses for an ammy rider, and it is always fairly immediately obvious which horses are regularly schooled in the walk and which ones use walk as simply the puttering/taking a break gait. Generally horses who aren't regularly schooled in the walk have a super tough time marching up into contact and either get very fiddly in the mouth or back waaaaay off the forward when you pick them up - or they want to pick up trot immediately because it's easier for them to push into the hand at the trot.

    I think for h/j riders this may have less of an impact overall when it comes to successfully showing and even moving up than for folks looking to show in dressage where an unschooled walk is going to keep you at first or below pretty much indefinitely*. That being said, schooling the walk is massively beneficial for every aspect of training, with the added bonus that there is so much less wear and tear with a slower gait. Also, I would think that as courses become more technical and demanding, the finesse you can develop through schooling walk would be critical.

    When it comes to walking simply for fitness, marching out on hacks really can't be beat - both for fun and benefit to the horse. Long, forward walking hacks are great for horse and rider brains and bodies.

    *I am not an h/j rider, many apologies if I am dead wrong.


    • #42
      I like to make sure we walk on different surfaces, too - grass, gravel, packed lime that's almost concrete, arena, the deep sand track, in the woods where there's rocks and tree roots, muddy spots, etc. I think too often people get tied to the arena where it's perfect footing. I'm always super jealous of Denny's pictures from his trail rides! I wish I had enough space to go out for trail rides hours long!


      • #43
        I did a wonderful clinic with Danny Foster in March and that was one of his favorite things to do... he was an advocate of walking, and said especially with the OTTB ( was riding mine in the clinic) He of course emphasized the marching, forward, swinging walk. And he liked to see it on as loose a rein as possible. He said you can do so much at the walk. Its really helped my guy. He is more relaxed and we can hack out on the trails/roads on the buckle with a big swinging trot. It also allows us to do more work on our turning and bending which he has issues with and he can stay focussed and does get as frustrated at the walk.
        I was at an Eventing barn his winter and due to cellulitis in april spent 30 minutes twice a day hand walking, I got bored walking in the indoor arena so we would head out on the roads, which were lovely rolling hills. He really didn't lose any condition in that month Despite some serious cellulitis and then an abcess on his fetlock related to the original site of entry for the cellulitis. we graduated from hand walks to road rides and his walk was so nice and forward that even on the buckle he was out walking any of the event horses that would join us... and he really wasn't being fast but he can get 2-3 hoof prints in his overstep at a good forward walk. Now that we are home and our property has finally dried out enough i can start doing hacking sessions around the property which has some gentle rollin hills and look forward to our jumping improving even more.
        I'm also re starting a mare who has been sitting and has so past training issues.. my goal this summer is TONS of walking, especially since at the other gaits, especially the trot she roots, and/or tries to go behind the bit. So for now we are working on a forward walk on as loose as possible of a rein and encouraging her to seek the contact. finger crossed it will work. she is too pretty and talented to be a pasture puff.


        • #44
          My 27 year old gets a crap ton of walking for fitness and to help him loosen his old man joints.

          My green baby gets anywhere from 10-20 minutes of walk work to help with suppleness, bend, shoulder control, hip control, etc etc. to improve the rest of his gates. I have a bunch of walk exercises we do each ride and I definitely can see the improvement that comes with it


          • #45
            It depends on the horse I'm riding and how it's feeling on any given day, to be honest. My TB needed a huge, rolling, nose-on-the-ground walk to unkink his back at the beginning of every ride. (Except those days when it was cold and he was feeling crazed and could.not.walk- and then a few laps of controlled hand-gallop with my reins bridged was sometimes the better bet! )

            My WB would live in that sort of warm-up walk if he could- he's LAAAAZY. But unless he's been sitting in his stall and needs some stretchy walk, we tend to go into a working walk, in my hand, with a bunch of lateral stuff as soon as I get on. Once he's starting to work over his back and into the contact we move on- it just depends on what he's feeling like on the day. For him the lateral work- shoulder and haunches in and out, leg yield, some half pass- is key to warming up, and it's best to start out at the walk.

            Weather and time permitting I take him on a hack afterwards- and some days when it's super hot or he's been working hard that week that is all we do. There is a steep, long, paved hill on our hacking trails that you can either walk up or trot up along the side (it's too slippery to trot on the pavement). I do this hill several times a week and make my jumper go up the entire hill working into the bridle, really pushing from his butt. When we first started it was a bit of a struggle, but now he goes into the contact and powers his way up without effort.
            You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil


            • #46
              Those long steep hills are SUPER for developing a horse. I used to have access to one and I used it frequently.