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Spinal Research


Archive - The Walk



Posted by Claire on Dec. 14, 2001

What is a good walk?  I thought my mare had one (instructor said if my horse had half that walk I'd be pleased) but woman I work for has seen my horse briefly and said, "it's got a poor "lateral" walk hasn't it?"

What is a lateral walk? - I guess it is two time and not four time purposeful etc, am I right or do you have a better description?  

Feeling confused now!

-- Posted by JaniceCorbett on Dec. 14, 2001

Oh dear! I don't know what a lateral walk is.

But I do know that employers don't like employees having something better than they have - could this be just a touch of jealousy?

-- Posted by JanePytchley on Dec. 14, 2001

The only thing that I can think of is that she means that the horse is not tracking up ( oh god that again) which many horses don't in the walk, or that the steps aren't even on both sides, which could be caused by stiffness - very common on a cold day. It's important not to rush the walk as you then get a choppy stride and jogging.

More constructive is to remember the quality of the walk when doing other work - e.g. if doing trot - walk transitions ensure that the walk is properly established before rushing off into trot again i.e. regular steps and not rushing. Also in the walk itself, rather than pushing with both legs use the legs alternately as each hindleg comes off the ground.
with a stiffness problem, most horses walk better after they have had a trot about.

-- Posted by CarolineP  on Dec. 14, 2001

A lateral walk is incorrect. I think it is when the walk goes two time - possibly into diagonal pairs, someone will have to correct me on this one anyway.

There a number of causes for a horse to walk laterally however the primary reasons are the walk being collected too soon and tension in the horses back.  

When a horse has a lateral walk it is said to have lost the purity and correctness of its walk and will be marked down in competition.


-- Posted by Claire on 1:06 pm on Dec. 14, 2001

Thanks all, Caroline - I'm glad I was on the right tracks in my thoughts!   We are fortunate to have mirrors in our school and she overtracks by about 6 inches and it has a clear four beats.  

Employer only saw her walking up to the school at her yard and very briefly when I got on her, she was tense and excited so can only think that maybe she didn't see her properly - (she's only 4 and was tense to start with, new surroundings etc).

It did upset me to be told it's good and then it's poor, left me feeling as if she was saying you were an idiot to buy her, she wont do well at competitions etc, although could be paranoia setting in!  

Hope the next time she sees her it's improved and the horse is more relaxed!

Thanks for setting my mind at rest re "lateral".

-- Posted by abby on Dec. 14, 2001

Not sure where she was looking from but could she have meant that the horse is not working on two tracks when looking from in front or behind i.e.: shoulders/quarters not square?

Wish we had mirrors but then Hugo would probably scare himself! Although we went to a SJ clinic once in place with mirror and he spent 20 mins whinnying at himself with his tail stuck up in the air! Decided he fancied himself so carted me to mirrors then reared up to argue with the mare which had the cheek to trot straight up to him!! He he he stupid idiot!

-- Posted by SaraG  on Dec. 14, 2001

As CarolineP says, a lateral walk is one which verges on two time, but in lateral pairs, rather than diagonal ones.

The sequence of foot falls at walk is -

inside hind
inside fore,
outside hind
outside fore

There should be a very clear regular 4 beat rhythm 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. Often a horse that is hurried in the walk will speed up the rhythm so the lateral pairs move almost together and the rhythm is more 1-2, 3-4.

The chances are Claire that, if  your horse was tense and excited, that her rhythm was not quite true - that can be quite common. If she settles to a good swinging walk with positive overtrack in her normal work, then don't worry about it. As she grows up and sees more of life, the tenseness will reduce and the walk stay regular at all times. Let her settle in her own time - don't try and "mend" the walk.

Maybe Janice is right - touch of the green eyed monster there and your employer is only too pleased to pick up on a negative point rather than look at the whole circumstances and make allowances.

-- Posted by LizCobby  on Dec. 14, 2001

This rings a bell!

SWMBO says small hairy person has an excellent walk  - (normally a 7 for free walk, we manage 6 medium walk) but if I try too hard to improve the medium walk, and overcook it,  it's   'He's PACING'!  and  he feels like a camel.

So if young horse was a bit uptight,  she might have not been showing a true walk at the time.

Whilst you're about - Oh Dressage Oracle! - and I've been reminded about mirrors, If an arena/school has mirrors, must these been removed or covered during a dressage competition?

We don't have such luxury at home, but once went to clinic in a school with mirrors. Took ages to get him to think about working.  If it had been a competition, it would have been disastrous.

We have problems hacking past the local garage showroom and along a road that  has rows of houses with big picture windows and people who keep them clean.

Small hairy person thinks he is sooooo handsome we have a battle to get past except in a stomping, sock flashing, silly walk, overbent and throwing feet about, as all he want to do is admire himself in them.

-- Posted by abby  on Dec. 14, 2001

They've got mirrors on the short side of the indoor arena at Sheepgate in Boston, they don't get covered up during BD comps so ned gets to see himself coming towards himself as it were when going up the long sides to the C end

-- Posted by SaraG on Dec. 14, 2001

No - nothing to say that mirrors need to be covered. Just another of those hazards that have to be coped with I'm afraid. In theory, if horse is working properly and concentrating on rider, they shouldn't make any difference - in practice that can be quite another matter, I agree.

However, if they're properly positioned, they can be very useful during a test. The big school at Hurstborne (the venue that was Catherston before they moved) has mirrors over the entire short side behind A - very useful for checking you are straight or that shoulder in looks correct, half pass correctly bent etc.

-- Posted by LizCobby on Dec. 14, 2001

Oh dear-  I'll have to rig up something a home to practice .
Or if our yard ever gets it PP through for a proper arena, get one of those free standing outdoor ones. ( Council have now asked yard owner for a sample of the surface on his 2nd application- so that's better than outright refusal)

I'm sure concept of 'concentrating on rider' has never occurred to small hairy person.  But we do have the advantage that he loves an audience- and raises his performance in direct correlation to the number of people watching.

-- Posted by SaraG on Dec. 14, 2001

In my experience of small hairy people, their attitude is that the rider should be concentrating on them - not the other way around. Large smooth warmbloods are generally far easier to con in this respect!

-- Posted by LizCobby on Dec. 14, 2001

Too true
Other horse is so compliant and different in attitude,
he even seems to be concerned if he does do something wrong.
"Small" is only comparatively small in height- 15hh,
Think Youngs' brewery horse but on short legs,  with a handsome Welsh face,  including the cute curly  ears,

-- Posted by CarolineP  on Dec. 14, 2001

I wish large sleek Orlov would allow attention to wander.  Easiest way to have a blow up is to focus on something else or talk to someone.  Does not appreciate not being centre of attention.    Stropped all the way home once because I had stopped to watch a really cute squirrel.

Woe betide if you actually feel ill and feeble on him and are not up to riding.  Weakness is not accepted and will be played upon.

One learns obedience and concentration!


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