Horses like to walk fast
Out to the lions? How walks can enrich horse training
We take a lot for granted. Regardless of whether it is about the hooves or leading, standing still or leaving the herd or riding in the field. All of this costs the horse courage, overcoming and trust. But we can help the horse and with it ourselves. A relaxed horse that knows a lot will gradually become the greatest reliable horse it can become. Even in the field. Walks are an important step on this path. To do this, you first have to take a quick look at your horse's pretty head.
What the horse thinks ...
You think: What a beautiful day! The sun shines through the leaves and glitters in the air, the wind blows gently over the grass, the autumn leaves rustle gently on the ground. How nice a walk can be. And then I still wear my pretty new breeches *... Fits so perfectly to the color of my horse's coat ... Oh, there's a puddle there - well, we walk through it quickly, it's not deep.
Your horse thinks: Something flickers behind this tree. Is that a lion sneaking up on? A lion could be lurking behind every bush ... What do I do now? If there really is a lion, it could cost me my life. A narrow passage between the trees? What if a jaguar is now hiding in the bushes ... What is she doing next to me, doesn't she even notice the jaguar? And: what is that? A deep glittering hole? If I step in there and break my leg, then I can no longer escape from the jaguar hiding among the bushes. So maybe.
At this point, how you react will determine what happens next. If you stay relaxed and keep running as if there can be nothing and tell your horse that there is no jaguar and you run through the puddle and show your horse that it is completely flat, then it will very likely relax and you consequences. No horse will willingly leave the safe herd if it has no reason to. To do this, the herd must be familiar to the horse and give it a feeling of security.
HERE are a few book tips that can help you so that you can become such a safe herd for your horse *
How walks can help you and your horse
Walks can help you and your horse as a duo. Regardless of whether it is a young horse, like mine, or an older semester. You will have the adventure of the forest and the terrain together on the ground. With every walk that you stay calm, your horse will relax more.
You are the beginning of everything on the way to becoming a reliable horse. If you and your horse can go for a relaxed walk together, you can also go for a relaxed ride together in the next step. Every task is bigger, more difficult and more exciting for the horse when you sit on his back.
That's why walks are part of our training diary. Including the many small exercises to make the journey together exciting and varied.
You can find even more steps in the training diary here - from “trying” helpful animals to the first steps in the classroom in the horse elementary school
A little hint: If you allow your horse to graze in between (I do this by showing my mare with a wave of the hand in the direction of the grass that she can now) - you can tell whether your horse is already relaxed. Because eating posture ultimately means that the head must point towards the ground. This in turn means that your horse cannot always look around to see if something might be there. So if it eats relaxed while walking, you know that it trusts you so much that it leaves you satisfied with the observation of the situation.
Must have - a walk with the horse!
Suddenly there is no more herd next to it. No reference point on which to orientate itself. It can no longer see or read your body language. You are sitting on the horse, maybe even in its blind field. All of this makes it even more difficult for your horse to resist his instincts to flee when something frightened him.
But once you run alongside your horse as its protector and herd member and endure all the small and big adventures that are supposed to lurk behind the bushes, you will do a lot more for relaxed future rides than lunge for hours on the field. Or with the fifth and sixth gallop on the court or with the seventh and eighth waving of plastic sheeting. That's all part of it, but the walk can also help you and your horse very well in your relationship.
That's why walks are just as much a part of my everyday life as the gymnastic floor work and scratching out the hooves. You can then gradually make the walks exciting.
TIPS for the walk - this is how you can turn it into a little training session
- For example, by practicing transitions from time to time:
From walk to trot, back to walk, stop, then trot, then stop again, then walk, then trot and maybe a short gallop (if you are fast enough), then walk again, etc.
Always make sure that the transitions become softer and finer.
Do not make these transitions all the time, but keep adding them. It helps me a lot if I use a tree in the forest as a starting point and another as an end point.
So I trot along with the horse to tree 1 and stop again at tree 2 or try the smooth transition to the walk.
You can also incorporate page breaks:
- Every now and then I let the horse change sides while we are running.
- I turn slowly until I run backwards, facing the horse.
- Then I ask to change the horse to the other side and turn again.
- This trains both sides of your horse and its agility.
Horses only have a tiny connection between their halves of the brain - that's why you train this connection and with it the serenity of your horse if you always train everything from both sides.
You can find out more HERE in an interview with Michael Geitner(Inventor of dual activation) about how important it is to train your horse on both sides and why
Backwards and stop - can be practiced very well while walking:
Stop your horse, for example by establishing a word or a signal, and then practice this again and again in the forest.
Just like that backwards. It is enough for your horse to take a step or two backwards in the forest at your signal. And only ask it when it feels really comfortable with you in the forest and is relaxed. Going backwards, like the "stop", is a matter of trust.
Bending and turning:
Not long ago we went into the forest, through small trees, over the rustling piles of leaves:
I ran like I wanted to run and my mare had to listen carefully and be careful to keep up with me.
At the same time, she had to bend a little here and there to get through between the logs.
Of course, this requires a lot of serenity and a relaxed atmosphere between you and your horse. But if your horse follows you curiously and confidently, it can be a nice game for a walk.
You can also climb over branches and tree trunks with your horse from time to time, this trains the muscles and is also a change.
NEVER FORGET THE MOST IMPORTANT: Praise! Always praise! Stroking, vocal praise and sometimes a treat for big challenges and great moments
To summarize again: why go for a walk with the horse?
- Walks are fun
- They bring variety to everyday training
- They promote bonding and trust because you and your horse have adventures together
- They will help you ride out and make your horse more reliable. True to the motto: if it works on the ground, it will be easier in the saddle
An example: my first walk
With my mare I could really see how she trudges more calmly with me through the forest with every walk. The first time she could hardly stop. In the meantime we can also stop in the middle of the forest. It's a process. Of course, we didn't go for a walk until a few weeks later, after I met her on the spot and was able to assess how she reacts when she is frightened.
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It is also always important to pay attention to safety. Only when your horse is relaxed on the field with you does it make sense to venture into the adventure “walk”. You can start with tiny rounds and gradually make them bigger. Everything always at the pace that is right for you and your horse. Then every walk will take you and your horse a little further.
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