Oh the jambette! Such an elegant word for an elegant movement. In the highest levels of collection, the horse can be conditioned enough to hold the jambette at varying speeds and turns. It can also be used as a segue to the Spanish Walk. For this post, we will be using it for the latter.
How to Start
You will first need to choose what you would like the training cue to be for the movement. For Tucker, I used my hand pointing to his leg. This is a particularly easy cue as you can use your hand to teach and then very easily transfer the cue to your hand motion. You might also consider using a stick or dressage whip if you do not wish to bend over to touch your horse's leg. In any case, what you will be doing is cueing your horse to lift their leg as if you are going to be cleaning out their hooves. You can lean down and tap the back of the horse's knee, and then reward when they pick up their foot. Be sure to say your chosen voice command at this point as well! Soon, tapping behind the knee will have your horse reacting. You can then try cueing with pointing to the leg and applying your voice cue. If they do it right away, awesome! Reward big. If they do not, don't fret! Simply ask again but with the original knee tapping cue. You can always go back a cue level; regressing definitely beats fighting and becoming frustrated. Remember to keep your sessions short enough so that your horse does not become bored with the exercise!
How to Transfer the Cue
Once your horse has started responding to the voice command or pointing command, you might want to teach them to lift their leg when you lift your own leg. To do this, simply ask for the jambette with the training cue, while also lifting your own leg and holding it out as they lift their leg. Reward, and repeat. Gradually make your training cue less dramatic while keeping your new cue plenty dramatic, until you cease to use your training cue. Remember, it is okay to regress to a training cue at any time.
To make the jambette into a Spanish Walk, you will need to make sure that they are comfortable with lifting both left and right legs. You will then ask for one leg, then ask them to take a step while it is in the air. Soon they will realize that you want the jambette to turn into a big step. Once they get that concept down, you can restrict your praising to only when your horse takes a true "Spanish step".
How to Make it Bigger (Your horse's step, I mean)
If you want your horse to lift their leg higher, or hold their leg up for longer, you will need to gradually restrict your rewards to only when they put in the extra effort. Still tell them they are good if they do a little motion (and click!), but only feed treats or scratch the special itchy spot when they give you a bigger effort. Do not expect a huge display instantly though! They have to develop the muscle and coordination to execute the movement before they can perform it perfectly. Sometimes, they will just be tired. Tucker only gives his best when he is energized!
Having a clicker will really make a difference in this exercise. If you don't have one, there is a huge selection here. Take a look at our "Getting Started" posts for some training tips if you are new to the clicker!
You can also find books that can help you out, such as: The Click That Teaches: A Step-By-Step Guide in Pictures.
This video will give you a visual guide to this method of teaching the jambette.
Ignore my sweats, it was one of "those days":