Walking your horse, 5 reasons to do it regularly
I have been walking and cycling with my horse for a long time. On average we walk twice a week and we both find it a relaxed way of moving together.
I started with it at the time because I was looking for a way to work on exercise / fitness a little more, without having to strain my horse’s back. But in the meantime I have also experienced many other benefits.
The bond is getting better
Since I have been walking with my horse I am sure it has strengthened our bond. It is different from walking your horse through the arena or taking him to the pasture. Along the way you will encounter everything. The horse must be able to trust you that nothing will happen to him. At the same time, you must have faith in yourself so that you can be a good leader, but you must also have faith in the horse. When this goes well, trust in each other grows and the bond gets better.
Horse needs are met
What does a horse do in nature? Especially a lot of moving in search of food, together with his herd mates. You can imitate this by walking your horse. You are his herd mate and leader and together you will move and in between look for a juicy piece of grass here and there. Movement is especially important.
By that I do not mean that you have to run through the mud .. 🙂 “Crosstraining” is a term that is used quite a lot nowadays and which means that you combine several forms of training.
Combining multiple forms of training is wise so that you do not always appeal to the same muscles and you can alternate your fitness training with power training. Walking is different from than going on a trail ride and therefore a stand-alone form of training.
Good for your own body
It is not only good for your horse, but also for yourself. Walking is one of the best forms of movement for people. So put on some sturdy walkers and walk with a quick pass and notice that your own condition will also improve if you go on a regular basis.
Improves trail riding
As mentioned before, you will encounter everything while walking. If you can resolve these situations properly and safely, your horse will learn to walk alongside you, well, alongside cars, tractors, cyclists, runners, etc. When you then go for a trail ride, your horse already knows these situations and even though you are not walking next to the horse, it will be easier to deal with these situations.
You can already simulate your position as a rider on the horse by walking a bit more from a floating position behind the shoulder, at the region of the girth.
Some points of attention
- It is wise to ensure that you have mastered the Basic Exercises quite a bit with your horse. It improves safety and ensures that you have communication (even in difficult situations)
- Don’t go for a long walk in the beginning, but slowly increase it… maybe go in the beginning, but just a little bit outside the yard / barn
- Use a sturdy (rope) halter and a somewhat longer rope, which is safer than if you use a short (halter) rope
- I always take a stick or whip with me, because I use it as an extension of my arm during the groundwork, but you can also stick it out to dogs (or people :)) who come unwantedly close
- Express calmness and leadership and walk upright, even in difficult situations this will help and your horse will trust you sooner if your energy is good.