An Interview With Horse Whisperer Carol Sharpe - Nihi, Sumba
News & Events Interviews
"I hope you've been enjoying my tutorials and they've been helpful, on my Yonder Farm And Connect Equestrian Q&A And Tutorials. If you haven't joined the group and you'd like to, just send me a request and I will add you.
"So today I'm going to talk about the walk-trot transition. So that will have all included everything we've done on previous tutorials. So the forward and back, forward and back, swinging the hips, bending the elbows in the rising trot and like the rowing in the cancer.
"This is Reggie. You guys have asked me to show you some of the less experienced horses, so he is a show jumper that I've retrained. He's probably working at elementary / medium at home. He's got a change, got a flying change now, but because he show jumps, it's very excitable and not as easy as I would like, so I've had to do a lot of repair work there. And he's got a really good piaffe. So he's a bit... got some big gaps. He's not conventional; you can see he's very short, very round, so it's harder to find the horizontal balance... but we'll talk about that in another tutorial. But he's just a nice little type – he’s nothing spesh - but you'll see when he trots he's got a very nice feel to his trot.
"Obviously I've been walking for a bit because I've been talking to you, so I'm getting the forward, back, forward, back, forward, back, forward back. I've got my Chihuahuas, so I can feel the contact mainly in the snaffle rein as he’s in the double today. So I'm going to want to trot. So my hips are moving, I'm going to squeeze, just squeeze with my leg, wait for the reaction, go rising straight away; bend and straighten my elbows. He's still very much in the warm up phase of his session today; I've literally only just got on him. So, I've got his neck a little bit low. So bend, straight, bend, straight, elbows, bend, straight. So I'd like to walk now, so I'm just going to relax, lower the rise, and walk. Nothing changes; you just slow your body down, lower the rise, and walk.
"... because I want more response, so rather than sort of tap and kick and fiddle and move around, I'm just going to repeat them, I’m just going to do more. So forward, back, forward, back, forward, back, squeeze with my legs, go rising straightaway. I don't go sitting trot to come back, not at this stage because I'm still warming his back up. So, I’m just going to get the trot going a little bit more... So, elbows; bend, straight, bend, straight, bend, straight, bend, straight. So I’m lowering my rise, relaxing, stay rising, back stays soft – and he just walks. So repeat... so see the reaction there was lovely, I can ride him on the snaffle rein really nicely, he knew exactly what I wanted; he just trotted. So really it’s just repeat, rather than get stronger. So lower the rise and he walks.
"The other thing you mustn’t do, if you feel like the horse is not going to go off the leg, you mustn’t start doing this; chasing. See what's happened, yeah? Lost fluency. You've got to relax - try and relax with the leg off - move with the horse’s body, keep repeating what you want the horse to do; praise it and it will cotton on. They’re sensitive enough to do that.
"If I feel the horse is not listening to me in the walk, rather than chase the walk, I do little turns like that. Literally just like a little sort of third of a turn - with the next straight - third of a turn. And then I say “go”. So it's just a little reminder that you want them to do something and it makes you feel like you know whether you've got the horse in the rein and ready to go, rather than kicking and pushing and fiddling more. I'm just going to lower the rise; contact doesn't change... walk. To develop more collection, you'd increase those, obviously. We’ll talk about collection in another blog.
"I think the mistake people make in the walk is they go too fast. Because it hasn't got natural momentum - like the rolling ball effect down the hill - like the canter and the trot has. It's got no momentum; we tend to want to chase it. And then if you chase it, it's like somebody constantly pushing you from behind. What would you do? You'd stumble forward. And the horse compensates for us doing that by, basically, dropping its sling, raising its head, lowering its back and shuffling on the forehand. And then we think that we've got a better trot; in that respect we haven't.
"In the walk, if you're not sure your horse is going to go off your leg, don't kick it faster because it will just stumble forward and it will compensate for your bad riding and put up with it, and you’ll wonder why the walk is short and losing its fluency. Don't do that. Do those little quarter turns, right? Squares and diamonds. Change the rein, then trot. But another caution with the walk, don't walk for too long on the contact, because, obviously, you can lose the fluency; it’s a pace that’s difficult to work on. The walk pace improves as every other pace improves; your trot and your canter.
"Remember, just slow your body down, lower your rise, keep your hands soft. So your hands would go forward, back, forward, back, forward, back, forward, back. When you want to walk, then we just softly stay still, and your body would stay still and lower, and the horse would walk.
"Thank you very much. See you soon!"
Find out more about Sarah Williams and check out the rest of her helpful video tutorials, covering a range movements and transitions > View Sarah's profile here.