|How to Ride the Flat Walk
The Flat Walk is in essence a sped up, more animated,
normal walk. The horse will cover more distance by increasing the length
of his stride, reaching further with each leg.
To begin let's look at the horse and rider configuration.
||The horse's back will be carried in the Level
The horse will be in a slightly rounder body frame in the Flat Walk than
the Normal Walk. As the horse moves into the Flat Walk his shoulders will
lift while the neck remains supple, his head should be just in front of
The undulating motion of the back, (experienced in the normal walk) diminishes
with increased speed and the back becomes more stable, croup will remain
steady with no up and down bob.
Overstride should increase from the normal walk, the degree will depend
on speed and conformation of the horse.
The head nod will be noticeably more rapid than in the normal walk.
The rider's position should be in the base
position, until you need to make adjustments that will influence the
To ask a horse to change from a regular walk to a flat walk you
want the horse to increase speed by taking as long a stride as possible,
with an overstride with the hind. The average horse will do approximately
5-6 MPH in the Flat Walk. In the normal walk the horse's head and neck
are stretched slightly forward and down, with the poll just slightly higher
than the withers. To encourage the horse to bring the head slightly more
towards the vertical, you will take LIGHT
CONTACT on the reins. Simultaneously giving brief squeeze and release
with the thighs and calves slightly behind the girth. to ask the horse
to "move out". It is important that your legs make contact just at the
point where the abdominals attach on the horse's torso, this will help
a horse to round his back by causing him to tighten his abdominal muscles.
Your pelvis will be in the base position.
Female Pelvis, Base Position.
Rider in Base Position with Good Equitation for Flat Walk.
The horse who has already been trained to perform a correct Flat Walk
will increase his impulsion and overstride. His speed will increase because
he is taking longer strides. Performed correctly the horse does not obtain
the higher speed by rushing his gait, but rather by extending his reach
in the gait of Flat Walk. You should feel and hear a 1-2-3-4 even cadence
to the footfalls. The horse's head and neck will nod up and down in rhythm
with the motion of his shoulders, back and legs. Your shoulders “move”
with the shoulders of your horse, and your hips “move” with the swing of
the horse's hind legs.
Increasing speed, impulsion and reach at the Flat
Sometimes it is necessary to encourage the horse to improve their Flat
Walk. Make sure you are sitting in a balanced seat, with even pressure
on your seat bones before you ask the horse to improve his gait. Crooked
riders give unbalanced cues, therefor resulting in a horse not working
in balance, working and pulling with his front end as much as pushing with
As the shoulder is moving forward squeeze and release the leg on that
side firmly against the horse, slightly behind the girth. This will ask
the horse to engage the corresponding hind leg. By alternating the leg
application with the shoulder movement for 4 or 5 strides, the horse should
begin to engage their hocks and stride out more purposefully with greater
impulsion. It is important that you are squeezing, not bumping or kicking.
After the horse has begun to increase the push with his hindquarters, you
can ask for more stride length.
||Increasing Stride Length
You can increase the length of stride in the rear legs of your horse
and encourage the horse to push harder with his hindquarters as he extends
his gait by tilting your pelvis as you press your tailbone into the saddle,
just as the horses hind leg starts forward, then resume the base
position in a rhythm with each of the horses hind legs. You do this
for 4 or 5 strides, then once again resume the base
Virtually all horses can perform a respectable Flat Walk. Although the
gait of Flat Walk is associated more with the TWH and SSH and Foxtrotter
Horse breeds, it is an important gait for all gaited breeds to perform.
The Flat Walk becomes particularly important to the breeds which perform
the ventroflexed gaits as their signature gait. The rounder frame the horse
carries themselves in to properly perform the Flatwalk can be part of a
maintenance program to encourage future soundness in the ventroflexed horse.
and maintenance of the Ventroflexed (Hollow Backed) Horse for additional
Other Articles of interest.
The Seat and getting
the horse on the bit.
Response, Gait and Confidence through Relaxation
Affect on the Horses Movement
CONTACT How to use a bit
at the Walk
a Horse to Gait
for Gaited Horses
for Increased Flexibility in Gaited Horses
The Seat and
getting the horse on the bit.