Today I want to explain how to build the Spanish greeting – and develop an expressive Spanish Walk from it.
The foundation for the Spanish greeting
Before you start practicing, I want you to get some basics right.
Because the Spanish greeting, i.e. “striking out” with the front leg, comes from your horse’s play and dominance behavior – and can challenge your relationship on a whole other level.
In the herd, geldings and stallions in particular, but also mares, lunge forward to gain space, to show how big and imposing they are.
You have probably seen this behavior before – for example, when a new horse joins the herd.
Therefore, it is important that your horse already respects your boundaries – and does not push or shove, for example.
The question around the dance area of the other should be simply clarified, so that you do not have bruises on the leg tomorrow ?
In addition, you should feel confident and sovereign in dealing with your horse, because this exercise pushes your horse’s self-confidence – which, by the way, can work wonders for low-ranking and rather timid horses!
This is how you start training (from the Spanish greeting & from the Spanish Walk)
In the beginning, place your horse at the rail or another lateral boundary.
This way he can’t move sideways and will figure out more quickly what you want him to do.
I usually start on the left hand because most horses are more used to seeing their humans on the left, but basically it doesn’t matter which foot you start with. You should settle on one first in the beginning.
Then, touch your horse’s long breech or fetlock with a longer dressage whip.
You can try out where your horse lifts his leg best or determine a spot.
Either way, it’s important to remember the final point so you can keep touching that exact spot.
Most of the time we don’t teach our horses just one lesson, so your horse should be able to tell the different points apart later.
Now touch the point until your horse lifts its leg.
Even if it is only a few centimeters at the beginning!
Afterwards you praise your horse effusively. He should first understand what it is all about?
If your horse doesn’t react at the beginning, continue to be gentle but still penetrating like touching – like a fly! Sooner or later your horse will move his leg to get rid of the annoying “insect”.
Always praise it immediately at the slightest movement and remember our philosophy of small steps – anything that leads in the right direction will be rewarded! Your timing decides ?
Build in a voice command from the beginning – maybe you want to be able to call the lesson from a distance or from the saddle later?
Most horses tend to stomp now rather than really extend their leg forward and up.
Here it is mainly your timing that determines whether you can extend the movement in the right direction.
However, you often find it easier to use a leg lunge to give the horse the idea of front up.
Once your horse understands that he should go up with his leg forward, you can start to increase the length of time your horse keeps his leg up.
You can either influence this by changing your reward rate and start to praise only when the leg stays up a little longer than usual or teach him to touch the crop with his leg – which you then keep up bit by bit.
My favorite trick to achieve a nicely held leg, I will tell you next week ?
With this in mind, have fun practicing – and shaping your horse’s movement!
It is always a great pleasure for me to watch my horses grow a bit bigger and prouder with every training session – and to see them grow more and more inside.
It is simply fascinating how much influence we have on the personality of our horses!
We should handle this opportunity carefully.
And be happy every day that our horses give us this opportunity. They are a gift!
All the love,