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Suspended Walk & Spanish Walk(s)

The SUSPENDED WALK, should not be confused with the Spanish Walk examples seen near the bottom of the page, which has limb phasing different from dressage walks. The Suspended Walk (see Nuño Oliveira's definition) has a tempo slightly less than that of passage or piaffe (50-54 strides per minute) and limb phasing of the defined dressage walks. Its tempo and phasing make it part of the classical school, although it is not a walk defined for dressage competition.

I refuse to become involved in "official" definitions of Spanish Walk (Beudant describes it in non-biomechanical terms that emphasize its diagonal moment). There is a continuum of limb phases for quadruped "walking," some of which have patterns for specific gait names and some that do not. Thus it is possible for someone to find a case that will or will not fit a particular definition. This site is about the gait phasing related to the Dressage School. The Suspended Walk is outside competitive dressage but fits the phasing of dressage walks in general. The real biomechanics issue is not about "flashy gestures with the foreleg" but with the time it takes a horse to lift a foreleg and simultaneously maintain its balance. The longer the motion of the forelimb lasts, the more the animal needs to balance on its three other legs. This timing requirement shifts tempo outside dressage tempos and lengthens the time when three legs are grounded.

Maintenance of round posture with the poll the highest point of the topline of the whole spine is the "biomechanical secret" of walk forms that help develop a horse. If a horse can maintain a suspended walk without dropping behind the vertical or dipping its back, it helps advance muscular flexible strength by asking for balance on the simultaneous mid-stance support of a grounded diagonal pair of limbs (still images show part of one stride on RH-LF). The movie from which these frames were extracted is just below the stills.

For comparison, a free walk is shown above when RF-LH are grounded. Limbs of free walk are in the phase timing of dressage walks. The grounded diagonal pair is not at nearly simultaneous mid stance, as it would be in collected walk. Instead, one leg is in propulsion phase (right fore) and one leg of the diagonal is counterbalancing and braking (left hind). The swing front leg is not as elevated and the swing hind leg is not quite as stretched as in Suspended Walk. Maintaining the mass of a leg in the air takes well developed, flexible muscle.
Work in Hand
Max is allowed to turn his head to watch my steps, which puts him in the "school position" with a slight bend in the rib cage. Max finishes the Suspended Walk sequence with a transition to Collected Walk in the same tempo, maintaining the dressage phasing of limbs. The Suspended Walk of Nuño Oliveira shows more timing connection to the Collected Walk than to the other dressage walks.
(just some examples of many that are possible)
Left: Hollow dropped back and behind vertical, on right hind, left fore diagonal pair, although almost suspended walk.
Middle: Learning the Spanish Walk, so diagonal pair (LH-RF spread) with back hollow.
Right: Finished Spanish Walk of good form up through the back on a light contact with RH-LF diagonal in simultaneous mid stance.
In these examples, the limb PHASING (timing the position of legs relative to each other in the gait cycle) is not that of the dressage walk although the limb SEQUENCE (order of foot steps) is that of walk.

From this web site
Standing hollow with three legs grounded.
Middle: Hollow, head turned to watch trainer and three legs grounded, standing still while learning the visual cue.
Right: Spanish Walk of very slow tempo (RH-LF diagonal in nearly simultaneous mid stance)
In these examples, the limb PHASING is not that of the dressage walk. While the horse is moving forward, its steps are short (see spacing between grounded hind legs) & the limb SEQUENCE is that of the very ancient, stable TURTLE walk where there are three legs on the ground and one leg at a time is moved s-l-o-w-l-y. I think the extra legs on the horse are an artifact of a digital flash picture?

from this web site

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