Why the walk is considered the mother of all gaits
1 - The well being of the horseLet's be honest: Do you only walk your horse with long reins while talking with your friends? There is nothing wrong with this but there is so much more you can do! It's essential at the beginning of the warm up for the horse to walk freely, on a long rein, without any pressure from your aids. Nevertheless, it's a good idea, that once your horse has loosened up, you start training in walk before you commence the trot work. Depending on your horse, if he is very laid back or a bit lazy, it may be better to trot a few minutes in a forwards downwards stretching frame and then train the walk. In walk, all faults are visible and this reflects the quality of your own riding rather than on the natural ability of the horse. If there are any issues with the contact or the rhythm, these will be hard to hide and is something that can be corrected through correct training. When a horse has been standing around, especially during winter if he's been in a box all night and maybe all day,warming him up with walk is absolutely essential to avoid soundness issues, all the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments need adequate time to warm up, and the flow of joint fluid only occurs through movement. If you can walk outdoors, this is often a welcome change of scenery and some fresh air, for you and your horse. 10 or 15 minutes on a long rein, encouraging the horse to stretch his neck down and his nose forward, this allows the back muscles to progressively stretch and warm up. During this phase you can ask for a little leg yielding, ideally whilst maintaining the stretch down to the bit. This warming up phase is enjoyable for your horse and is a chance to improve your walk by implementing training exercises within the walk and helps prevent injuries.
In her master video "Training the Eye", Anja Beran explains why too little attention is paid to the quality of the walk.
"What does not work in walk won't work in trot or canter"
For Anja Beran, everything needs to be learned step by step, for horses as for humans. Always start with an easy request and then increase the difficulty as you and the horse become more comfortable with the exercise.