I am just beginning to explore the SW under saddle.
We are past the artificial whip/voice cue for the steps.
I now use an approximation of what I feel when the horse does the SW - as a cue for him to begin it. This is quite simple from the halt - I will weight shift and use my upper thigh to signal which-ever front leg I wish to begin the gait with.
There are some concerns with this already - because I need to limit the sideways weight displacement (onto the grounded front leg) - and instead place it more backwards. This is especially obvious when lifting the LF - as the horse very much leans over his RF.
The other (much bigger, or perhaps very much related?) issue is that my horse doesn't actually do a Spanish Walk, he does a series of halt/step/halt/step etc. - he squares up his hind hooves for each SW step. This is the same in hand - I think I may have spent too much time asking for the individual steps at the halt... and this is a very difficult exercise for this horse too, he was/is extremely restricted in his forehand.
So now I am experimenting with how precisely can I make myself understood - can I influence the rhythm/length of stride?
And when asking for the SW from a walk - what should be my timing for the first step? (and each step following) ? I find that I am about a step late - when I ask for the lift of the LF - he does the RF - next step. But I also figure that asking for the LF first may not be a best idea - it is the one that is much easier for him to lift, but with a weight shift/roll over on the RF. -
my reasoning was: "start with the easier leg" - but now as I think about it, he probably feels like he needs more time - to "roll over" onto the other leg, as I begin to cue this just before the LF lifts from the ground, it may be too quick of a request.... any thoughts?
I am just not sure how I would begin the cue earlier without going too much "against his motion" - all our riding is extremely connected and when I ask for something with my seat, the moment of disconnection (before he "comes along") is definitely less then a second - so my cue for a step with a certain front leg will need to be different if it needs to happen during a different feeling phase of the stride... hope I am making sense here.... perhaps it's more about the SW becoming more a part of our repertoire, and therefore more expected? Actually as I write this (thank you, wonderful forum
) - I might be stumbling on an answer - or a part of it - collect the walk first!
There is a bit of this at the beginning of this video (same clip as I posted in the riding topic)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjjKN4zGfGU
Our last ride I was trying to speed everything up - so we don't dwell over the huge individual steps - and we did begin to actually engage/walk the hind legs, so that may be one strategy? I am not trying for such big steps, that seemed to be the horse's idea - I am sure I just got more excited with the bigger steps at the beginning... and now it's hard to "undo"
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! thank you guys...