How to Teach a Horse to Spanish Walk

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Since the first treatises on horsemanship were penned, the Spanish walk has been in the repertoire of classical riders and their horses. Characterized as a high-stepping gait that requires great balance and strength on the part of the horse, the Spanish walk still can be observed in equine exhibitions all over the world. Though baroque-style horses, such as the Andalusian and Lusitano, are traditionally trained for the Spanish walk, any breed of horse can learn this dramatic exercise. Things You'll Need Dressage-length whip Rider or second handler Food treats (optional) Kick board (optional) Choose a verbal cue. Though some trainers dislike the use of verbal cues for showing purposes, the cue can help the horse understand which of his legs he is to raise, and at what time, according to Ride Magazine. The cue for the right leg will be different than the cue for the left. Begin at the halt. Horses should first be taught to respond to the light touch of the dressage whip behind their forearm while standing, according to Ride Magazine. This should be done on the ground and in conjunction with the chosen verbal cues, with the handler standing at the horse's shoulder. When the horse's forearm is lightly tapped, he will raise his leg slightly. The horse's handler should be certain to train both the right and left forelegs to lift when the stimulus is given, and allow the horse several seconds to settle and think between attempts. Walk him in hand. With the horse positioned between his handler and a wall, his handler can ask him to lift his legs at the walk by gently using the dressage whip behind his forearm. Once the horse has lifted his leg, the handler should ask him to move forward. Keeping the horse's poll and head high as he travels will help him lift his legs higher. Horses should not be encouraged to speed up the tempo of their walk, as their balance and understanding will improve over time, according to Horseman's News. Add a skilled rider. To begin the Spanish walk, the rider can give the verbal cue that the horse was trained with on the ground. The right rein is lifted and pressure is applied with the rider's opposite, or left, leg. Once the horse responds, the rider lifts the left rein and applies pressure with the right leg. This sequence is properly executed when performed in time with the horse's gait, according to Horseman's News. The rider should adopt a deep seat to encourage free shoulder movement from the horse. The rider also should encourage the horse to carry his head and neck in an upright frame to lighten the forehand and engage his haunches. Take your time. Each horse will learn at his own pace with consistent and kind handling. As the horse gains confidence in the Spanish walk, his balance and movement will improve. Keeping training sessions short and positive will ensure that the horse enjoys his new skill and looks forward to performing it.

Joanna E.

Joanna E.

Independence, Missouri, United States

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