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Article Hevosurheilu


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     Hevosurheilu:   
Finland magazine - Translate by Minna Talberg
Christian Carde:
The lateral walk is a sign that the back is not working


 
 

One of the most problematic things in dressage riding is the deterioration of the walk as the training progresses. When the walk is ruined, it is lateral, the horse moves lateralising the walk, stiffening the back.

This walk is not the kind which you get high scores for. The long time championship level dressage rider and Cadre Noir rider Christian Carde says that the quality of the training can be measured by the quality of the walk. He also admits that some horses are naturally more disposed to develop a lateral walk than others.
 
 - How does a rider get into this trouble, Christian Carde ?
“The lateral walk is born by riding against too hard a hand. A good walk is one where the back swings in a relaxed manner in time with the strides and the head and neck can be used freely as a pendulum. When this is prevented, we get a walk with a stiff back, where the horse is forced to take the strides in a two beat instead of a four beat time.
When the walk is a clear pace, it’s easy to recognise. There are however several stages before that happens and they are more difficult to recognise. ”
 
 - When do you have to realise that you’re moving in the wrong direction ?
“The walk is easier to hear than to see, if you’re unsure of its quality: the hooves of a horse that is walking well create an even rhythm: 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, and so on. A horse that is on the way to creating a lateral walk doesn’t create this even rhythm but walks first with the legs on one side 1-2 and then after a fraction of a second with the legs on the other side 3-4. Ie. 1-2-pause-3-4-pause and so on.”
 “You can understand this especially easy if you ride on ground that gives an echo or a resonant sound that is slightly clearer than usual.”
 
- How should you react then?
“You have to focus on movements that help the suppleness and flexibility of the back.”
 
- Should you avoid riding too much at walk?
“No. The walk is the gait at which new things are taught.”
“I remember one Canadian pupil of mine whom I asked to ride a shoulder in at a walk. He (or she, it’s the same word in Finnish, translator’s note) resisted, saying it would lead to a lateral walk. I said that it will not, but quite the contrary, as long as you give the horse enough freedom in front.”
 “You must avoid the kind of training at the walk where the neck is pulled short and there is a strong contact.”
“ A horse that walks well walks like a big cat. This is the way that FEI judge Mariette Withages, among others, describes it. It is a shame, however, that at the shows where she judges she very rarely gets to see this thing that she so beautifully describes,” Carde swipes.
 “It’s interesting to notice that in these times, when dressage riding has been “searching for itself”, the loudest proponents of the walk are the Germans. They have traditionally been the advocates of a very strong contact.”

About lateral walk 

 

 

 

 
Terhi Stegars (Finnish Dressage champion living in Germany)
The lateral walk is not a natural gait. The main point to avoid this is to get a relaxed horse. To obtain this relaxation, the rider has to provide enough freedom to the forehand. Collected walk should not be taught on long straight lines but rather by very short demands of leg yield or shoulder in.
 
Kyra Kyrklund
The walk should be performed with a horse well forward. To avoid the lateral walk, I ask two steps walking then I stop; two step walking and I stop again, and so on. I then ask for lateral flexions that keep and help the horse thinking where to position his feet. In this way, it is harder for him to initiate a lateral walk.
 
Kiki Nyberg (Dressage trainer – national level)
Cavalettis are a nice solution against the lateral walk. I adapt the space between the bars to the stride of the horse. Bars really help the horse to correct the walk. An alternative is to ride outside. Up and downhills keep the horse’s mind busy and help to the general relaxation.
 
Jenny Eriksson (rider of the Olympic team, national trainer living in Germany)
If a horse’s walk is of poor quality, I ride outside, especially on unstable grounds where the horse has to watch out to the place he has to position his feet. The horse gets calm and relaxes his back. Lateral work appears when the horse is ridden and will disappear only by riding the horse correctly.
 
* Comments about the comments ( by Christian Carde )
Only the comments of T. Stegars (providing freedom to the forehand.) and of J. Eriksson (The horse gets calm and relaxes his back) appears satisfactory to me. Those comments are the sign of a way of riding without constraint, without compression on the hand which are the real causes of the walk’s deterioration. It is quite strange to notice that a rider with the reputation of Kyra Kyrklund avoid giving an answer to the question, proposing tricks instead of real remedies or prevention.


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