I know this sounds very boring, but sometimes horses are restricted to walk-only work, when rehabbing, or when the roads are too icy to venture out, and the arena is too frozen to do anything faster!
I have developed a walk-schooling routine that can easily last an hour, and in case anyone is lacking inspiration, I thought I’d share these exercises, a lot of which come from my fab trainer. At the end of this lot the horses are really through and soft, it’s worth the effort!
FWLR (free walk on a long rein) to begin, until the horse is relaxed. If possible about 10 minutes of this, if the horse is sane! This is a good opportunity to work on your own position, balance and relaxation, of course.
One exercise which takes a while to do, and is difficult to get perfect, is a walk serpentine with 10m loops, and a 10m circle every time you cross the centre line. Lots of changes of bend, lots of time to feel the horse’s balance shift and to help it maintain the connection.
A 10m circle in the corner, shoulder-in (or shoulder-fore) to middle marker, 10m circle, travers to corner.
On 20m circle, halt, 1 step turn on the forehand (keeping the same bend from the circle, obviously), walk on 8 steps, repeat, repeat etc.
A particular favourite: leg yield zig-zagging, from 2nd track (2m in) to outside track, change bend, leg yield back, change bend, leg yield out again, etc, all the way down the long side. My record for how many of these I managed to get in on a 60m side is 16… so far… this is a great exercise, the horses really get the hang of it and enjoy it. Of course you could also eventually keep the same bend and do a few steps of leg yield, a few steps of baby-half-pass, etc, which is obviously trickier.
Down the long side, walk pirouette before the corner, back down long side, walk pirouette again. Very difficult to do really well!
Collected walk circle, FWLR zig zag, collected walk circle.
Walk, halt square, walk on 8 steps, halt square, rein back 3-4 steps, forward 6 steps, halt square, walk on.
Contra shoulder-in at 30 degrees to track (again, not easy to get perfect!), change the bend, walk circle spiralling in and out again.
These are just some ideas, they keep me and my horses busy when we can’t do faster work.