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Speeding up a walk

    I recommend teaching your horse to stretch his head and neck down.  Not
just drop, but reach down with his nose, stretching the back.  Two reasons:
it's easier to feel the side-to-side motion you're trying to accentuate
(when a horse walks, his barrel swings side to side.  The alternating leg
thing Heidi talks about is, as understand it, functioning to increase the
hind leg stride, and hence the swing.  The trick in using your legs is to
"get into" that motion, so to speak, and push it further. Something that help
me is to start by sort of windmilling my legs.  My dressage instructor likened
it to walked backwards.  For example, your left leg will follow a circular
path (maybe more like an oval) counterclockwise, brushing the horse's side
side as it goes forward, then leaving his side and travelling back again.  It
helps a lot to do this stirrupless if you can) and it helps the horse lengthen
his stride altogether.  My dressage instructor explained this by having me
stand upright, put my chin to my chest, and lift my knee as high as it would
go, then tilt my head all the way back and try to lift my knee again.  For
some reason (probably relaxationg of the back) stretching your back helps
your legs have a greater range of motion.
    The trick to teaching your horse to stretch is to simply take contact
(hackamores work fine--that's how I taught Elliot) and release as soon as your
horse makes any attempt to reach down.  If the horse is getting frustrated,
pay extra attention to be sure you're releasing immediately.  Also, be sure
to only use as much contact as necessary to get the job done.  After the horse
gets really good at this, you can hold, they'llreach down, you maintain
holding, thney reach more, you release.  But it takes a while to get more
than the initial drop, so be patient.  Combining this with alternating legs
will help you get a better walk.
    If anyone has something to add to this, please do!  I may have explained
something poorly.


P.S. Today is one of the nicest days I've seen all summer, and I am
bummed that I don't get to take Elliot out and about.

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