Horses aren't just for riding, and dogs aren't just for walking. Walking your horse can be fun and very rewarding. It's also an excellent way to work with young horses, retired horses and those who are recovering from an injury. Here are a few advantages of taking your horse on a walk.
Improves Ground Manners: Walking politely on lead for extended periods of time is a great skill for any horse to have. Even if your horse is a dream on the ground, you can never get too much practice. Trotting politely on lead is another excellent skill. Going over obstacles on lead is a great way to build your horse's mindfulness of his feet. You can even go over small jumps or work on desensitizing.
Gives Insight: Many riders spend so much time in the saddle when out and about that it can be difficult to see things from your horse's point of view. Taking a walk side by side with your horse can be a real eye opener to possible "scary" objects and how our horses see them.
Improves Your Physical Health: If you don't currently have an exercise program, why not use this as incentive to get some exercise? Riding does use muscles but nothing compares to moving on your own two feet. It can be a lot of fun to have your horse as a walking or even jogging partner. The average person's comfortable jogging pace isn't faster than a horse's trot. Trotting is also a great working pace for horses so your equine can really benefit while you exercise.
Builds Trust: Going on a walk with your horse is a wonderful way to build trust and strengthen your bond. Think about how horses interact with one another. Wild horses walk long distance regularly, together as a herd. Usually if we're working on the ground with our horse it's in the form of lunging or round penning so we really aren't moving with the horse. Walking side by side is beneficial for the horse and quite relaxing.
Walking your horse is a great way to change things up and interact when you don't feel like riding or simply want to try something else. With my own horses, I could see how much they enjoyed getting out and seeing the neighborhood without a rider on their backs. The change was very welcome. We did get a few laughs from the neighbors who thought my horses must be "broken" since I wasn't riding.