One of the common mistakes we face in dressage competitions up to the Olympic level are horses with a tendency to amble or amble completely….What is the cause of the ruined walk and where does the evil have it’s roots? Undoubtedly, in a hard, backward-operating hand that leads to an equitation where forced submission dominates and the horse is ridden from front to back.
When, for example, in the extended walk, the hand is not following the natural head-neck movement of the horse, but instead constrains it, the horse’s neck cannot be used effectively, with the consequence of the walk getting irregular. When the walk’s four-beat rhythm is disturbed, the horse cannot swing over the back, so he stiffens it. Moreover, horses ridden that way have no faith in the rider’s hand and do not stretch out, but sometimes curl away from the bit or get behind it.
As a principle, one can claim that if the mouth of the horse is not relaxed, the rest of his body isn’t. So, when riders ask me how to fix such problems, there’s no other recipe than going back to the basics.
Colonel Christian Carde, “Walk: The Queen of Gaits”, Practical Horseman, August 2014
If you enjoyed this quote, and the previous quote that I posted from the same article, then I would highly recommend his recent column on EuroDressage, Where did the halt go? He takes issue with the halts recently seen in Aachen, some of which (in my opinion) would have gotten you vilified in any Pony Club competition!
Be good to your horses!