Walking the horse properly – tips and exercises

A relaxing walk with the horse, enjoying the togetherness and yet still training it at the same time. Do this? Yes of course. We will show you many different exercises that will train your horse and help you get him used to being walked.
Horses are flight and herd animals, which means going off the farm alone, with only a human, can frighten many a horse. Especially if the relationship with the human is not solidified, because they have to give the horse enough security and the horse has to trust them. If this is not the case, the horse will either not leave the yard on his own or he will be nervous during the walk and you can expect him to gallop off at any time.

How do I get my horse used to going out on his own??

Before you start walking your horse alone, take an experienced horse with you and walk with a friend. The experienced horse gives your horse the security and he gets used to the fact that nothing happens to him. Only when the horse is relaxed and walking next to you with a second horse, you can start with the individual training.

The right equipment

At the beginning we go into the equipment. Especially with a horse that doesn’t know how to go for a walk, we recommend a snaffle or cavesson with a lunge line or ground work rope, because this way you have more control and if your horse gets spooked, thanks to the lunge line you have a little more room to maneuver and he doesn’t break away right away. Because your horse should in no case have the experience to break away. First check with your insurance company whether they require a snaffle or whether you can also walk with a cavesson or halter.

Gloves are also recommended. This is how you protect yourself from painful blisters on your hands.

The factor time and patience

If you want to start to get your horse used to going for a walk, you need time. As mentioned before, not every horse leaves the yard willingly and walks along relaxed. That means you need time and a lot of patience. To get a relaxed horse needs a lot of training and several weeks or even months. So do not rush or force the horse to do something, because this will only lose the trust. Also, always small steps are important and reward immediately.

Exercise 1: Lead training

Before you go into the field, you have to get the basics right. So go into the hall or the arena and practice leading. Your horse should:

  • Stand quietly next to you,
  • not push, shove or overtake you,
  • walk up to your command and walk backwards.

In the best case this works so well that your horse reacts only by your body language.

Only when the leading works without problems, you can go one step further.

Exercise 2: Relaxation is the be-all and end-all

Start small, that means at the first training you only go to the end of the yard. If your horse is still relaxed, you can go a little further. If he is nervous, stay there until your horse starts to relax. You can stroke him or soothe him with your voice, the main thing is that he relaxes. Pay attention to yourself, because your mood is also transmitted to the horse. If you radiate relaxation and security, your horse will relax faster. As soon as he relaxes a bit, go back to the stable and the first training session is over.

If the horse does not calm down at all, a second horse can help at the beginning.

This exercise is really just about the horse starting to relax outside the yard and realizing that nothing bad is happening.

Exercise 3: Small steps

If your horse stays relaxed at the end of the yard after a few training sessions, you can go a few steps further. If your horse becomes nervous again, you stand still until he calms down.

Then turn around again. If your horse is still calm after walking a few meters, that’s great. Don’t go too far, but be happy that he is relaxed and turn around while he is still calm, so your horse has a positive experience.
Remember: Always pay attention to your horse’s body language, it is best to turn around when he is still relaxed.

Exercise 4: Praise and training

As in exercise 3 you increase the distance to the yard more and more. It is important to always praise your horse a lot when he is good. Remember that not every day is the same. It may be that your horse goes far one day and only up to the end of the yard the next day. Then don’t get impatient, because horses have bad days too. Just start there again and always end with something positive.

Muscle training and keeping attention

Now you can go for a walk with your horse, but how exactly do you build muscle?? And what do you do if your horse does not listen to you and pushes you??

Exercise no.1 Transitions

Build in as many transitions as you want during your walk. Even if you have the feeling that your horse is not completely with you, transitions are a perfect way to bring his attention back to you.
Walk for a while, then stop and wait until the horse is calm and relaxed. If your horse is standing calmly you can either back him up, trot him or just walk him again.
Another possibility would be: trot – halt – backward – trot or

Step – Stop – Backward – Step – Stop – Backward or

very simple walk – trot – walk transitions.

Especially the transitions from backward are a real boost for the hindquarters muscles.

Exercise no.2: Side walks

Side gaits are not only perfect for work under saddle, but also in the field at the hand. The effect is the same: Properly done, they improve permeability, strengthen, stretch, improve balance and straightness, and much more. So they are true all-rounders. Try for the beginning with thigh turn, if it works you can try shoulder walk or travers.

The prerequisite is, of course, that these exercises work well from the ground in the arena or in the arena, otherwise you will quickly overtax your horse.

Be a little lenient at the beginning, because the horses have to place their feet more accurately on the uneven ground than on the flat ground in the arena. Also, there are many more things in nature that can distract your horse. So it can be that the exercise does not work immediately as usual.

Exercise no. 3: Cross country

Change the ground with your horse. Go sometimes forest path, sometimes meadow and sometimes over small uneven paths. This not only adds variety, but also improves the horse’s footing and makes him lift his feet more. Be careful though, if you walk over small trunks and branches stick out. There your horse can hurt itself quickly. If the trunks are however without branches nothing speaks against it also over it to go.

Exercise no. 4: Backward up/down hill

A small hill or mountain can be perfectly used for this exercise. Turn your horse so that he stands downhill and stop him. Now you point your horse 1-2 steps backwards. This exercise really gives muscles, but is also very strenuous. For this reason do not overdo it at the beginning. If you notice that 2 steps are not difficult for your horse, you can also increase it slowly.

Another variation to uphill would be to turn the horse around and lead him 1-2 steps backwards downhill. Again, slowly increase the number of steps.

Exercise no. 5: Slalom and turns

Forest trails are perfect for incorporating a slalom. Use widely spaced trees and run in a slalom around them. If you know how to turn the horse from the ground to the hand, you can use that and always turn the horse in that direction.

But not only for a slalom trees or bushes are suitable, you can also run volts or hairpin turns around them.

Exercise Nr. 6: Uphill and downhill

Sometimes a small slope, a few hills up and down or a longer distance uphill or downhill. If there are small hills somewhere, or a mountain, then take the opportunity. But make sure that they are not too steep for the beginning. Later you can increase the slope. When climbing, the ground is also important, it should be grippy enough so that the horse and you don’t slip.

All these exercises strengthen your horse and bring the attention back to you and the more often you walk, the more relaxed the horse becomes.

Have fun.

For the Emergency, but in case your horse gets frightened and breaks away there are our SOS pendants. Thanks to them you don’t have to be afraid, because you will be contacted immediately if your horse is found.

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