Proper walking with the horse – tips and exercises

go for a walk


A relaxed walk with the horse, enjoying togetherness and still training it at the same time. Is this possible? Yes of course. We will show you many different exercises that train your horse and help you get used to going for a walk.
Horses are flight and herd animals, which means leaving the barn alone, only with a person, can scare a horse. Especially when the relationship with the human is not stable, because the human has to give the horse enough security and the horse has to trust them. If this is not the case, the horse either won’t leave the barn on its own or is nervous during the walk and can be expected to gallop away at any time.

How do I get my horse used to going on trail alone?

Before you start walking with your horse alone, take an experienced horse with you and start walking with a friend. The experienced horse gives your horse security and it gets used to the fact that nothing will happen to it. You can only start individual training when your horse walks in a relaxed manner with the experienced horse along side you.

The right equipment

First, let’s talk about the equipment. A bridle or cavesson with a lunge line or ground work rope is recommended, especially for a horse that doesn’t know how to go for a walk. That way you have more control and if your horse gets scared, you have a little more leeway thanks to the lunge line and it doesn’t break free right away . Because your horse should never have the experience of being able to tear himself away. However, first clarify with your insurance company whether they require a bridle or whether you can also run with a cavesson or halter.

Gloves are also recommended. This is how you protect yourself from painful burn blisters on your hands.

The time and patience factor

If you want to start getting your horse used to walking, you need time. As already mentioned, not every horse willingly leaves the barn and walks relaxed. That means you need time and a lot of patience. Getting a relaxed horse takes a lot of training and several weeks or even months. So don’t rush or force the horse to do anything by force, because that will only lead to a loss of trust. Small steps are always important and should be rewarded immediately.

Exercise 1: Leadership training

Before going on trail, the basics have to be in place. So off to the inside or outside riding arena and practice. Your horse should:

  • stand calm next to you
  • do not jostle, push or overtake you,
  • walk towards you and go backwards on command.

Ideally, this works so well that your horse reacts only through your body language.

You can only go one step further if you can lead without any problems.

Exercise 2: Relaxation is the be-all and end-all

Start small, that means you only go to the end of the barn during the first training session. If your horse is still completely relaxed, you can go a little further. If he’s nervous, stay there until your horse begins to relax. You can pet it or calm it down with your voice, the main thing is that it relaxes. But also pay attention to yourself, because your mood is also transferred to the horse. If you are relaxed and secure, your horse will relax more quickly. As soon as it relaxes a bit, you go back to the stable and the first training session is over.

If, on the other hand, it does not calm down at all, a second horse can also help to start with.

This exercise is really just about getting the horse to relax outside of the barn and realize that nothing bad is happening.

Exercise 3: Small steps

If your horse now stands relaxed at the end of the barn after a few training sessions, you can go a few steps further. If your horse gets nervous again, stop again until it calms down.

Then turn around again. If your horse is still calm after running a few meters, that’s great. But don’t go too far there, be happy that it’s relaxed and turn around while it’s still calm, so your horse has a positive experience.
Note: Always pay attention to your horse’s body language, it is best to turn around when he is still relaxed.

Exercise 4: Reward and training

As in exercise 3, you increase the distance to the barn more and more. It is important to always praise your horse a lot when it is good. But remember, not every day is the same. Your horse may walk a long way one day and only to the end of the barn the next day. Then don’t get impatient, because horses have bad days too. Just start there again and always end with something positive.

Maintain muscle training and attention

Now that you’re ready to walk your horse, how exactly do you build muscle? And what do you do when your horse doesn’t listen to you and pushes you?

Exercise #1 Transitions

Build in as many transitions as you want during your walk. Even if you feel like your horses attention isn’t at you, transitions are a perfect way to draw attention back to you.
Take a step, then stop and wait for a moment until it is calm and relaxed. If your horse is standing still, you can either point it backwards, trot or simply walk again.
Another possibility would be: trot – stop – backwards – trot or

Walk – Stop – Backward – Walk – Stop – Backward or

very just easy walk – trot – walk transitions.

Especially the transitions from backwards are a real boost for the hindquarter muscles.

Exercise #2: Lateral Movements

Lateral movements are not only perfect for working under the saddle, but also outside the stable in hand. The effect is the same: done correctly, they improve throughness, strengthening, stretching, improving balance and straightness, and much more. So they are true all-rounders. Try leg yield to start with, you can try shoulder-in or travers/renvers if that works.

The prerequisite is, of course, that these exercises work well from the ground inside and outside the riding arena, otherwise you will quickly overwhelm your horse.

However, be a bit forgiving at the beginning, because due to the uneven ground, the horses have to place their feet even more precisely than on the flat ground of the riding arena. Also, there are many more things in nature that can distract your horse. It is therefore possible that the exercise does not work immediately as usual.

Exercise #3: Cross country

Change the ground with your horse. Go sometimes forest path, sometimes meadow and sometimes over small uneven paths. This not only provides variety, but also improves surefootedness and the horses have to lift their hooves more. However, caution is advised when you walk over small trunks and sticking out branches. Your horse can easily injure itself there. However, if the trunks are without branches, there is nothing wrong with going over them.

Exercise #4: Backward up/down hill

You can use a small hill or a mountain perfectly for this exercise. Turn your horse to face downhill and stop. Now direct your horse 1-2 steps backwards. This exercise really builds muscle, but it’s also very tiring. For this reason, don’t overdo it in the beginning. If you notice that 2 steps are not to difficult for your horse, you can also increase it slowly.

Another variation to going uphill, would be to turn the whole thing around and lead the horse 1-2 steps backwards downhill. The same applies here: Slowly increase the number of steps.

Exercise #5: Slalom and Volts

Forest paths are perfect for incorporating a slalom. Use trees that are far apart and run around them in slalom. If you know how to flex the horse from the ground by hand, you can use this and always flex the horse in the respective direction.

But trees and bushes are not only suitable for a slalom, you can also run volts or reverse volts around them.

Exercise #6: Up and down hill

Sometimes a small slope, a few hills up and down or a longer distance uphill or downhill. If there are small hills somewhere, or a mountain, then take the opportunity. But make sure that they are not too steep for the beginning. You can then increase the incline later. When climbing, however, the surface is just as important, it should have enough grip so that you and the horse do not slip.

All of these exercises strengthen your horse and draw attention back to you, and the more often you walk, the more relaxed the horse becomes.

We wish a Lot of fun.

For emergencies, if your horse gets frightened and tears away, there are our SOS horse tags. Thanks to them, you don’t have to worry, because you will be contacted immediately if your horse is found.