Thank you Dani and Zuzana! The best instances of our SW will never be on camera, because they happen in sudden moments of elation and pride. Like yesterday we did several wonderful ones on a 2 hour walk through the countryside. We were both just so happy that we are on the road again, the sun was shining - it was just a perfect autumn day!
So actually the best cue for it is happiness
and so it happens that Mucki always makes me laugh when he does his Spanish Walk. It is after all an exercise that I would never demand of him. If it is not given freely, it simply does not work at all.
not sure if this is because of the way I trained it (whip cue, negative reinforcement) or the horse - very restricted through the shoulders - at the beginning, I couldn't physically lift his forearm very high at all, about half the range of the other horses.
Mucki tended to have problems lifting his left foreleg above a certain level. When he did, he sort of gave way in his right shoulder, so I started to keep the Jambette and SW low. Now, it's slowly getting better.
I think it's a combined issue of a weaker right shoulder and not putting the weight on the hindlegs enough. So he leaned heavily on the right shoulder, which is also a very bad position for balance.
When re-reading this thread today, I found out (again) that my idea about the SW is not really the Spanish Walk but the School Walk, like in this video that Karen posted previously: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K3LJAb40y4
Having that image as a goal, Mucki developed a nice flowing, just a bit accented walk. From there, it was him that experimented with higher, more exalted leg lifts by himself. So basically I trained the School Walk with him - he's training the Spanish Walk by himself
(by the way, the amplitude was always his idea, right from the start, maybe it's because I just got so much happier when he did a HUGE step? )
Mucki did that too in the beginning, as he was so eager, but I deliberately rewarded him for less. In the beginning just for a tiny bit of accented upwards tendency. I actually asked him to do it sloppy - as sloppy as necessary to keep the walk clean
There is something I haven't noticed before - Special moves his leg up and out to the side in those exaggerated steps.
Maybe he's doing that for balance? How is the SW without a rider? A ridden SW must be a major balancing challenge for the horse, so I guess one can expect a lot of things - like the head position for example - to deteriorate during the first learning phase.