Most ALL riders forget to practice the walk! But believe it or not, you can accomplish a lot at the walk.
For those of you that ride older horses, you will want to spend a good amount of time at the walk to give your horse a chance to warm-up and to prolong your horses’ career and soundness. The walk is significantly less wear and tear on your horse than the trot and canter.
Believe it or not, you can accomplish a lot at the walk – you can work on rhythm, suppleness, lateral work, transitions, and your position!
Where as you want to practice your trot extentions sparingly because they cause a lot of strain on your horse, you can pretty much do an unlimited amount of work at the walk.
Always start out the ride, if possible, with walking on a loose rein. You want to feel that the walk is swinging, active, and that the horse is moving through the whole body. You want your horse to walk like a runway model. This really stretches and loosens your horses’ back and stifles and helps build suppleness and fitness.
Once you take up the contact, I like to practice walking serpentines to get the horse supple and bending. You can also practice leg-yields at the walk and walk-halt walk transitions.
One thing to note about the walk is that the walk technically does not have impulsion. Impulsion is defined by the amount of suspension in the gait and since the walk does not have suspension, it does not have impulsion.
Therefore you want to be careful about taking up too much contact on a young horse or a green horse. If your horse starts to get backed off or stop, then ride forward up to the trot or canter to help resolve the issue.
I encourage you all to spend a little extra time at the walk. Slowing things down and taking time to focus on the details will help you and your horse!