How do you stop your horse from jogging when he should be walking? – That’s a question most dressage riders would dearly love to know the answer to!
In this article, we explore the reasons why some horses jog instead of walking and show you how you can break the habit.
Jogging during a dressage test – catastrophe!
If your horse jogs during a dressage test, you can expect to be heavily penalized.
Naturally, you’ll lose marks for the walk movement if the horse breaks rhythm and jogs, but you’ll also be marked down in the collective marks too.
That’s because jogging can be interpreted as a sign of tension, affecting harmony and therefore the submission collective.
The paces collective could also be hit due to the loss of clear four-beat walk rhythm, especially if the horse jogs during all the walk exercises in the test.
Finally, you’ll lose a mark in the rider collective, because your lack of effectiveness allowed the horse to jog.
Jogging doesn’t just spoil the medium walk and free walk exercises. If your horse jogs through the walk stage in a trot-walk-trot transition or a simple change, you’ll be penalized for failing to show “clarity of walk.”
So, you can see that jogging instead of walking during a dressage test is an expensive habit you must correct!
Exposure to the competitive environment
Some horses lack confidence when taken to an unfamiliar environment. That can manifest itself as tension and excitability in a dressage test and is frequently exposed during the walk when the horse jogs.
You can help to cure this problem by taking your horse to lots of different places, not necessarily to compete. Hiring an arena away from home is a really useful and effective way of helping your horse to relax and become accustomed to working in a strange environment.
Go back to basics
Sometimes, revising your basic aids can help cure the habit of jogging.
The aid for trot can “sound” very similar to the aid for walk, as far as your horse is concerned.
Practice riding a slight shoulder-in position in the walk to encourage your horse to listen to your inside leg, rather than jumping away from it.
When you ride the walk, don’t take your leg off if you think your horse is about to jog. Keep your leg on, maintain an elastic contact, and think about keeping the correct, four-beat rhythm.
Don’t teach your horse to anticipate
In some dressage tests, you are required to make a transition directly from the walk into the canter or from free walk to medium walk, and then straight into trot or canter.
Unfortunately, too much practice at home can lead to your horse anticipating the upward transition. Hence he jogs in the walk.
So, when schooling at home, be sure to mix up the work and don’t over-practice direct upward transitions.
Remember that if you’re tense and tight, your horse will pick up the vibe immediately!
If your horse thinks that you’re worried about something, his natural flight instinct will kick in, and your helpful equine partner will be on his toes ready to run away from the perceived danger.
So, take a deep breath and try to relax as much as possible during the test. Let your seat sink deep into the saddle, follow the horse’s movement, and allow with your hand so that the horse can walk calmly forward.
Practice the free walk at home
It’s crucial that your horse learns how to relax and stretch in walk in his familiar home environment, even when out hacking. Then, when you go to a competition, your horse will be less likely to jog.
When riding the free walk, allow the horse to take the rein forward and down gradually; don’t suddenly drop the contact! That can cause your horse to feel insecure and may encourage him to jog.
Also, when gathering your reins back up, don’t grab them in a hurry. The transition from free walk to medium walk and vice versa should be smooth and seamless.
Jogging in the walk during a dressage test is a common and costly fault.
By familiarizing your horse with different environments, revisiting the aids for the walk and free walk, and keeping yourself relaxed, you can overcome the problem.
Have you lost marks from jogging in a dressage test? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!
- About The Horse’s Walk Gait in Dressage
- How to Encourage Your Horse to Relax at Competitions
- How to Manage Competition Nerves
- How to Improve the Free Walk on a Long Rein
I ride a lesson horse who frequently jogs when asked to go from a trot to walk. I’ll have a wonderful trot with lots of energy and, when I ask for walk, she’ll jog on before finally getting to walk. It can take several strides of jogging for her to finally stop and walk.
I can’t actively train her, but it might also be my seat? I don’t get to ride her but I am quite comfortable and confident on her so I’m not sure what I can do.
Thanks so much for reading our article and commenting.
The situation you described is a difficult one since the horse is ridden by multiple people.
Our first suggestion would be to see if the horse jogs in the trot-walk transition with other riders, or if it’s just with you. This will help determine if the fault is with your aids (which could cause the horse to be confused as to whether she should be walking or trotting), or if it’s a training issue with the horse.
More often than not, jogging is caused by tension, so encourage the horse to relax and ride the transition mainly from your seat using as little rein as possible (rather than just pulling back on the reins).
Hope that helps.
P.S. Here is another blog post of ours which may help – How to Ride a Good Trot-Walk Transition – https://howtodressage.com/dressage-movements/trot-walk-transition/
I ride a VERY well trained lesson horse that starts to jog whenever I take up contact. I have tried to slow down and smoothen the transition from free walk to walk on contact. I can get her to go back to a walk pretty quickly but sometimes she really doesn’t want to. I sit deep, I pull slightly back, I’ve half-halted. I really don’t know what exactly to do that this point. We worked a lot on my seat so far this winter. My trainer likes to have a whole month of intensive EQ training in the winter just to fix everything that might’ve shifted a little over the year. I am really just looking for any ideas right now.
Thank you very much for your comment. Unfortunately, this is very difficult for us to help since we don’t know your horse. Your trainer is your best resource here. But here are some initial thoughts that may help.
1. Make sure that her bit, bridle, and saddle fit correctly, there are no issues with her teeth or any other such physical problems.
2. Incorporate lots of walk during your schooling sessions. Mix frequent walking practice in between other work.
3. Make the transition from free walk to medium walk very gradual. So, establish a good free walk with your horse marching forward and stretching round and down into the contact. Then shorten the reins only a few inches but keep the walk going forwards. Count 10-15 strides then shorten the reins another few inches, but again, keep the walk purposeful. Count 10-15 strides then do the same again. Keep repeating until you have established your normal contact and your horse is now in medium walk and not free walk. The key is to keep the horse thinking and marching forwards whilst maintaining a relaxed state of mind; if you slow the walk down she’s more likely to job. Once you can go from free to medium walk in these 10-15 step increments, reduce it to 5-10 steps, and so on.
4. Make sure that you allow with your seat and you continue to follow the movement of the walk when you make a transition from free walk to medium walk. It can be very easy to stiffen through your seat which will cause your horse to tighten through the back, and therefore, jog.
5. You can use poles (with caution). So, set out 4 or 5 walking poles, approach the poles in free walk, and then transition to medium walk just before your horse gets to the poles. Your horse will need to maintain the walk rhythm to negotiate the poles correctly. We say ‘with caution’ because we don’t want your horse jogging through them, falling over them, and injuring herself. You will know best how you horse is likely to interpret this exercise and if it would be suitable.
As mentioned, this is difficult since we don’t know you or your horse, but hopefully that has helped give you some ideas to tackle the problem.