Heavy on the Forehand?

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Heavy on the Forehand?

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  • Why heavy on forehand horse
  • Heavy on forehand riding

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    06-28-2012, 07:39 PM
Heavy on the Forehand?

There's this one horse I ride who's always extremely heavy on the forehand. It affects his performance as well as my riding. On him, I always find myself leaning waaay too far forwards, my reins slipping in attempt not to yank on his mouth (even when I'm following his face with my elbows and hands), and my entire body falling forwards onto him over jumps. This NEVER happens on any other horse (and I've ridden plenty of horses recently) so I know it's not just bad riding habits. It's just whenever I get on him that this happens. From the way he moves I can tell he's extremely heavy on the forehand and his hindquarters are far from engaged. His head drops low, especially when he canters. His strides are really slow and lazy and stressed. None of the motion is powered from his hindquarters. It's not a pretty sight, since as a result both horse and rider end up looking messy. How can I engage his hindquarters, get him moving, and get him lighter on the forehand? Also, are there any riding errors I might be making that are contributing to the problem?

**NOTE: I know I don't hang onto the reins for balance or support, and I know I don't have a super tight rein. With this horse, if you ride with anything but a soft but steady hand he's all over the place, going everywhere and yanking down at the bit and messing up all his striding. He's taught me a lot about having a nice steady hand. I used to ride him a lot when he was green and we came a long way, then when he started being really good everyone loved him and lot's of people started riding him. Once I started riding him again, there were all sorts of new problems. He never had this problem before.
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    06-28-2012, 11:02 PM
Biggest advice is keep riding him and try not to let a bunch of other people ride him. I have some ideas but to point you I. The right direction/ what I would do is he just heavy on the forehand and it's just hard to work with or has he now become dangerously low and lazy that it risks him falling over himself? Knowing this will help people understand the severity of it. Some horse can be a somewhat easy fit and others not so much
    06-29-2012, 12:13 PM
Originally Posted by Mckellar    
Biggest advice is keep riding him and try not to let a bunch of other people ride him. I have some ideas but to point you I. The right direction/ what I would do is he just heavy on the forehand and it's just hard to work with or has he now become dangerously low and lazy that it risks him falling over himself? Knowing this will help people understand the severity of it. Some horse can be a somewhat easy fit and others not so much
I'm not sure what you mean by it 'risking him falling over himself' but yes, he is very heavy on the forehand and hard to work with. He has also become a lot lazier than he was before and his strides lack any impulsion or energy whatsoever, if that's what you mean. It also affects his turning, since he has a tendency to break stride around turns because he has no hind power to keep him going. And from that he's learned the habit of cutting corners. I can't remember the last time (since I started riding him again) that I could get him around a decent corner without deathgrip legs... Even though I'd prefer to just teach him to respond from just tiny nudges, so many people ride him that it's hard to retrain something like that. He's a lesson horse, see.

When I used to ride him back when he was green, it was just me and some other girl. He was considered 'unsteerable', 'extremely green', and 'impossible to ride'. I managed to figure out his quirks and I could teach him what I wanted and we were a great team; I was one of the few people who could get him to perform. It's sad because now when I get on him he has all these new problems and much of the progress we had is completely messed up. Anyways, any help is appreciated.
    06-30-2012, 12:05 PM
Get him on a loose rein,Lean back, bump with your fingers, and push him forward. Regardless of how many people ride him, he needs a cue taught to get him to stop doing this. Maybe tell some of the other riders or trainers what you did so they can use it too? If everybodys informed, the horse won't get a chance to pull anybody around. Communication solves so many things :)
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    06-30-2012, 01:14 PM
Half halt him, get him back onto his hind end a bit. Instead of leaning forward to go WITH what he's doing, try to change what he is doing. Half halt and sit back to get him to shift back onto his haunches, and do that again when you feel it happening again.
    07-01-2012, 09:57 PM
Transitions. Lots and lots of transitions. Snappy up transitions and active down transitions - no falling out of a gait, he has to really step into it. And, as others have mentioned, he can't come up off the forehand if you're leaning forward, so force yourself to sit back.
    07-04-2012, 02:35 PM
I'm assuming it's a lesson horse? Try checking saddle fit. Most lesson horses have crappy saddles. People think they can just toss a few extra saddlepads on and it magically fixes a saddle that sits on the withers and rocks from side to side. Yeah, no...
If possible, give us pics of him wearing a saddle (hopefully without a pad). If not, make sure that the saddle doesn't touch his spine anywhere along his back. Make sure the pommel is at least 2 inches above his withers and never touches them when you ride. The saddle should sit level. If it doesn't, then you can't sit properly.
Make sure it fits his shoulders properly. Some saddles are made for flat shoulders, and it doesn't work well with horses who have round shoulders.
And most people put the saddle too far forward. It should be right around the "bump" of the shoulder a few inches below the wither on each side. If the girth is digging into his elbows, your saddle is too far forward.
You'd be surprised what correct saddlefit does for impulsion.
    07-04-2012, 10:32 PM
If this is something new, it sounds to me like this horse is in need of a good chiropractor. Usually when a horse that has been going light in the tack suddenly changes, it's something physical. However if this has been an ongoing problem, my recommendation is to go back to trotting on a long rein and getting the horse forward. Forward first, frame last. Once he's MOVING forward, then use your SEAT primarily with slight support from the reins to ask for a half halt (not using the reins for support - I mean using the reins to support your queues). This should help him shift off the fore onto the haunches. The key here is making sure you have impulsion. Without that forward impulsion, half halt will just slow the horse and drop him right back on the fore.

Other things to check for potentially are saddle fit, back issues, as well as mouth/teeth issues. Good luck!
    07-05-2012, 04:19 PM
Do a uni-lateral half-halt, but make sure you use your leg FIRST or you will just confuse your horse. To do this, give him a tap with your inside leg and then instantly give an upward check with your inside rein. Make sure you do not pull back and that it is truly upward then release. This will bring his head up and force him to use his hind end. Next time he gets heavy and low in front, do the same thing. Pretty soon he will respond to the leg because he knows the check will follow and you will no longer have to give him the check. Good luck!
    07-05-2012, 06:14 PM
^^ Thanks all! I will definitely try these things.

Rascalboy: The saddle is alright, I've checked. Also he's had the same saddle for about 2 years (or more? Idk) and he was fine for about a year and a half using it. He only started having problems later on so I'm pretty sure it isn't the tack.

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