How to get him off the forehand? *long post*

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How to get him off the forehand? *long post*

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    10-21-2009, 05:05 PM
How to get him off the forehand? *long post*

Ok..I know Crow wasn't collected, but yesterday I realized just how much w was walking on his forehand. And gaiting, and probably everything altho we only checked the gait and walk.

He's a very willing and sensetive horse, easily moves both hindquarters and shoulders when asked, trained with the shoulder in already before he had a rider (trained it from the grund), I often move him sideways across the roads when I'm out, I walk and in gait, as well as doing those shoulder ins at least in walk, havn't tried doing it faster. When I find an arena or a place where I can ride a circle, I practice using my seat and legs to move him in and out of the circle without changing the bend or frame. I also work on slowing his walk or gait or canter down with seat, speeding up, slowing down etc. and I try to always be careful not letting him fall in through a tun (he usually lean heavily on the inner foreleg when he turns). He's giving to the bit but not following it down-forward at all times, at the trails he usually have the headset in my avatar; not very low but no stargazer, bracing the bit or just hollowing out either. When he gaits he raise the head but still keeps a nice rounded neck, nose dropped perhaps a little before the vertical. He can take the nose down more as well if I ask him, but actually I havn't cared much for it as long as he doesn't stiffen up and brace aginst the reins. I try not to bother him at the head at all as long as he's just doing as he should and relaxing ok. We usehills and so to climb and in all I think it's quite varied work..

The canter is a weak point; he canters nicely and comfortably, takes the cues easily and stops easily. If I ask him to go too slow he'll break off to a mix between canter and rack, but we're getting better on that and it's ok now. Problem is that he doesn't know anything about getting the right canter lead, he just takes the same all the time (well, I think so at least..Havn't remembered to check which canter it is all the time). I don't think this will be a problem to fix later on when I have access to an arena.

Now last time I went and saw some vids with my fiend after the ride and talked a bit. The result was that I brought a whip on the ride today, trying from the ground first of course, and used it by laying it on his chest in front of him, to get the point ''stop means stop now immediatly, so be ready for it'' as he often slows down and stops gradually. He did well, and just feeling the stick at his chest (or front of his shoulder really) got him to stop in a heartbeat. I didn't have to smack him or anything (wouldn't have tried either way but rather went back to enforce it on the ground if necessary) I think I tapped once lightly when he didn't react fast enough. So, now I've taught my horse to stop dead immediatly at my cue from both walk and a fast gait.. on the forehand. He pretty much buried his poor frontlegs in the ground..poor thing. Well, after a few times he did seem to realize that I could ask for it and that it was better to stop by ''burying'' his hindlegs rather than his frontlegs.. :3 I also noticed that tapping the top of his butt with the whip, not painfully, just ''tap-tap-tap'' as if I'd drummed my fingers there or something, did - something. I don't know exactly what but it felt as if he pulled the butt under himself just a bit..I won't know untill I've tried that and got it on tape or had someone watch it. He didn't tense up or brace or feel stiff in anyway, and didn't speed up either, so maybe.. I used the whip a little to move his hindquarter and fore too, he knows it very well without it so it didn't make a differense.

Anyway..if you've read all this Ill owe you a cookie.. now..what do you think I could work more on to get his butt under himself and get all that weight off his forehand? Some new excercise?
I don't have acess to any arena at the moment, only trails. I can walk on our field but it's too slippery to gait or trot there.. Our neighbours seem to be done with their arena so there's chances I can get some kind of deal from that.
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    10-21-2009, 05:30 PM
There is no magic "collection" button on the horse, no magic exercise that's going to immediately shift their weight onto their haunches to a high degree and no contraptions that are going to do it either.
It takes a lot of chipping away patiently, allowing the horse to build the strength, muscle memory and to have him understand what you want. Getting a collected horse is a journey down a long, winding path with many many forks in the road.
To take this journey we first need a road map, the training scale. When faced with a fork in the road, we must always ask which way is going to better fulfill the steps on the training scale. It is:
Rhythm (in this is included tempo - not too fast or too slow and always absolutely metronomic in pace)
Relaxation (in this is suppleness, willingness of the mind to learn and relaxation of the body)
Contact (the horse must seek the bit, stretching over the soft relaxed back into a steady contact)
Schwung (also called impulsion, it is the horse's desire to go forward and swing through the back. A horse with schwung is going to be soft and easy to sit with your relaxed seat)
Straightness (the horse following it's front legs with it's hind legs on straight lines, through corners and circles and performing lateral work correctly)
Collection (the horse is finally gymnasticized enough through his body to shift weight onto his hindlegs while maintaining all previous steps of the scale. You can never move up to the next step on the scale and forget the previous ones)

In developing each step, there are various exercises that can be performed to teach the horse what you want. For example in developing rhythm, doing very slight forward and back transitions in the gait while maintaining the rhythm and tempo teaches the horse that you want him metronomic in his gaits.
The keystone exercise in training a horse is transitions, they are as important, if not more than the actual gaits. The only thing that you must practice every day you ride, is your transitions. Eventually, they should be so that you do not use any rein aids in them, only seat and leg.

Good luck!
    10-21-2009, 06:25 PM
I know that. But I'm not asking for a lot of high collection, I what him to get off his forehand a little. Because he's really, really bad at it.
I think that he's strong enough to do it (Or I know he's strong enough because sometimes, not very often at all but a few golden moments, he really get collected in a pretty high degree in the gait. I have felt it, and my instructor both felt and saw it. And he can keep it for quite a while once he get there, but I can't figure out how to get him there) but I just don't get him to understand it. At all. Not the least bit.

Isn't there anything that can lure him off his frontlegs if only for a few steps, so that I can praise that and work from that? Some excercise more effective than others to give him the idea of leaving the front end lighter? I've heard moving the front around the hindquarter should help, but he does that perfectly without taking the weight off the front..I don't know how.

Because he's way to willing, strong and flexible to be this much on the forehand all the time, there should at least be a few seconds every once in a while were he collects by himself if he'll ever do it, but there's not. It's as if he have no idea that it's possible to put the weight back. And I truly think that if he just understand that that's what I want from him, he'll be able to do it and he would do it. It's not like I'm talking about piaffe or uber-high collection with all weight back or something, just to be less heavy in front.

And after what I've written, perhaps someone can see what I'm missing with his training - that can have anything to do with this. Because it won't come by itself when he's ''strong enough'' to do it. And he won't get any stronger in theareas he lacks strength, if he doesn't work at least a little with them.
    10-21-2009, 06:37 PM
And I don't need my reins to do transitions...
    10-21-2009, 08:38 PM
If you and he aren't getting it - then you need to start working with someone who can explain it to you. It is extremely difficult to explain collection in person, and nearly impossible to do it over the internet. Your best resource is going to be riding with the best that you can afford.
    10-22-2009, 03:57 AM
I read a bit but on the web last night but nothing that gave me hints on how.. anyway since you're so locked at collection, which isn't exactly what I ask, drop the collection and replace it with ''impulsion'' instead? I don't care for a high level of collection yet, I just want him to start using his hind a little.

I'm not asking for a trick that will fix it overnight, but all excercises are better for certain things (if all of them where equally good for everything, you'd only need one single excercise to repeat over and over again, right?`They all help wih different parts.) And I'm asking what kind of excercise would help me ore here, what do I lack most of?

I do normally have a good riding instructor, but at the moment she lives 100 miles away and have a messy life. Hopefully she'll move closer again towards spring. And at the moment my economy is bad after being sick from work. In any case, I thought forums where there for help and advice as well as discussion, places where people with more knowledge could see to each individual situation and come with suggestions. After reading my first post where I describe what I try to work on, what would you have done to help him get the hindlegs with him? What wuld you have put more focus on and worked more with?
    10-22-2009, 12:03 PM
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~    
The keystone exercise in training a horse is transitions, they are as important, if not more than the actual gaits. The only thing that you must practice every day you ride, is your transitions. Eventually, they should be so that you do not use any rein aids in them, only seat and leg.
I agree that transition work would be very helpful to you. Even though you can get the transitions without using your reins, transitions can always be improved, and, if your horse is on his forehand, that is an aspect of his posture that carries into transitions, and can be improved.

Defining a transition as a change in direction, gait, speed, or balance, some fairly specific exercises that I would recommend are transitions between gaits. Walk to halt, walk to back, walk to gait, gait to walk, gait to canter... When your horse can do these transitions correctly, try transitions within gaits, speeding up or slowing down each gait, using first seat, then leg, then rein. Ideally, your mere thought should slow your seat enough for your horse to respond. Maintain the same rhythm and control through direction transitions by supporting Crow with your legs, and perhaps lifting slightly with your inside rein (careful to keep soft contact on the outside rein) to keep him from collapsing and leaning onto his inside foreleg. A properly executed half halt can rebalance and better engage his hindquarters as well.

Also, either have a knowledgeable buddy on the ground to let you know when his weight is off his forehand, or take video and review yourself, comparing to examples of correctly balanced horses, if you can't get to a trainer.

I hope that was helpful. Good luck!
    10-22-2009, 05:10 PM
Thanks :) He does transistions within the gaits very well too, but we need to work on slowing down, or rather, slowing down immmediatly as I ask. And I recently got a point of that wth the inside leg too so I'll be thinking ofthat in the future.'I always work on transitions and side-way moves as that's retty much the ony thing I'm completely sure to tell if I managed or didn't; either he slows down or he doesn't, or move away from my leg or doesn't.... :3 I try to do as many other excercise as I can, but I can't always tell if I managed to get it right or if he just kinda did something that's perhaps like the thing I asked.. >_>; I wish I was a good rider and could tell that all the times, but I'm not.

I wish I could have someone withme either filming or seeing, butI live far away from civilization and the only person at the barn is my dad.. who isn't patient enough to watch me warm up and work and videotape it even if the camera had I have no arena and always ride on the trails, trying my best to get it right there anyway.. I work on the field at times but it's usually too slippery or filled with hay-to-be so at best I can walk there.. :(
    11-10-2009, 06:12 PM
As previously stated transition - QUICKlY and most importantly correctly. That means during the transition have horse bent SLIGHTLY inside (think shoulder fore) so horse has to step underneath itself with inside hind leg and carry itself more. Transition also means horse can not leap ahead (evasion so they can fall on their nose, push nose hout (another evasion), go faster before performing transition (e.g. Trotting faster then finally cantering or trotting from walk when you asked for canter, etc.).

A second way (I suggest you mix them up) is Half-Halts. That means first you MUST be performing a correct halt where horse steps underneath itself with hind legs then halts square - not parked out, not looking like a drunken sailor in stance,...

Once you can get a good halt (from walk and trot) then work on this exercise:

On a 20 meter circle at the walk perform walk/halt/walk transitions at each 1/4 circle. When you get good halts start shortening the amount of time you remain halted (for example at first it might be 5 seconds at halt until you start walking, get it down to 1 second,... until eventually as horse start to halt you lightly squeeze your legs until horse starts trotting.

What you want is a "hesitation" so horse is walking along - you ask for halt - and as horse start to halt you immediately "change your mind" and say walk on, so horse never really halts just hesitates. Once you can do that repeat in trot/halt/trot - starting with 5 seconds down to the hesitation part.

When you can do that you're doing a true HALF-HALT (HH).

Now when you ride the minute the horse speeds up, slows down, falls on nose, gets behind legs, looses balance, or when you're transitioning between gaits (walking ready to trot, etc.) then you perform a HH.

The HH followed by a correct transition will push horses weight back on it's butt and off it's forehand.

It's hard to write it but when I ask for a half-halt I:
1.) Keep legs where they are - sometimes a LIGHT squeeze with legs
2.) Push straight down (NOT forward or back) with legs on BOTH stirrups
3.) Squeeze both reins then IMMEDIATELY go back to pre-squeeze position on the reins. Do not hold reins, do not throw reins away (i.e. Don't loose contact with the mouth) rather soften your elbows slightly from their "on your waist" position to reward the horse for sitting more on it's butt. This encourages them to come over their back and into the reins (through).

If this doesn't work you're doing something wrong OR your horse has another problem you need to work on - like they could be holding so much tension in their head/neck/poll that they don't feel/react to the half-halt, etc...

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