I know. The math doesn't work. Two legs minus one is not four. But stay with me for a minute.
I pretended I was a horse when I was a kid: I cantered and trotted everywhere, crunched apples and carrots, whinnied and nickered, and jumped over anything that didn't move. Sometimes I allowed me to ride myself. Sometimes I was too wild and bucked myself off. (Figure that one out.)
Beginning at age six I rode real horses. Pony rides led to riding lessons, then trail rides double with luckier friends. I had an unsuitable pony, then another that was meaner, smaller and ultimately very beneficial for me as a rider (read: typical Shetland). Then Flicka, my first true horse-love. She was eventually a casualty of my bone disease ordeal, but selling her to buy a more reasonable mount was my first adult decision at sixteen. It led me to England where I was certified by the British Horse Society, then here to upstate NY where I taught lessons, exercised racehorses, and eventually ran my own small stable. Along the way, I fit saddles to equine backs, trimmed hoofs and did a little shoeing, and taught young horses to balance with a rider. Little did I know my eventual amputation at age forty-five would reincarnate my equinized self.
Let me impress upon you the importance of comfortable equipment. As an above-amputee I wear a prosthetic leg attached to a socket made of a rigid carbon fiber that covers my stump to my hip and crotch. Liners and stump socks are fine, but they can't make up for a bad fit, a socket that's too big or too small, or an edge that rubs me raw. Am I clear about this? A hard material in a suitable shape is perfect, while all the padding in the world won't stop chafing when the form is wrong. I've used wads of sheepskin to try to make-do until I got to my prosthetist for an adjustment. Here I'd like to formally apologize to any horses in my past with marginally-fitting saddles that I made-do by layering an extra saddle pad (or gel pad, or wedge pad, or lollypop pad). There is NO substitute for tack that fits the anatomy. No, a socket is not a saddle. But a sore is a sore. Believe me.
Now feet. Or rather, foot. I've always prized a good farrier (horse trimmer & shoer) and I want my horses sound and square, with corrective work if they need it. When I got my artificial foot, I stumbled across the hard truth under the theory of equine conformation. A foot that turns out is bad. And a foot that turns in is much worse. If mine isn't tightened enough, it turns. If it turns out, I waddle and lurch. If it turns in, I fall down and shout bad words. I don't tinker much with my fancy fake leg, but that foot direction is critical. I made my prosthetist teach me how to adjust it. I keep that little allen wrench handy. And I'm telling you, find your horse a decent farrier. I cringe for the horses that toe in.
And the last part of my life as an ampu-horse-tee is this balancing act of walking. My prosthetic leg is basically a big hydraulic hinge. It's got no computer-gizmo so once it bends, I follow, or fall down. Gravity giveth and gravity taketh away. That's walking: controlled falling, minus the control at first. Straight-legged, the limb holds me. So in the early days I spent hours between PT sessions walking on my deck with a hand on the railing. I walked forward. Then I walked backward. In classical European riding and training (dressage) you never teach a young horse to back until advanced levels. The fear is that the colt won't move forward freely. I've seen critters taught (or allowed) to back too soon that learned to rear to avoid anything. It's an effective disobedience; after a while, no one rides them. But when I learned methods based on the vaquero style of horsemanship ("natural" horsemanship) I learned to ask horses to "unlock" by moving in any direction. It's the freedom and balance of movement that's important, the quality and willingness rather than direction. And then I found myself needing to unlock my motion.
Backing helped me find my center in my new gait. I walked forward and backward, back and forth, along the deck as my horses watched interestedly behind the fence. My foot was adjusted forward; my socket fit comfortably without padding. And I pricked my ears, swished my tail, and backed on into my new way-of-going, hoping for carrots. So far, there've been plenty.