Always on Forehand
My horse was heavy in the forehand at the canter and because of this was not able to maintain a slow, balanced canter putting his weight on his back end. He also tended to speed up over time until I did this wonderful exercise that my daughter showed me. Wow has it helped. What I was doing with my horse and what a lot of people end up doing, is pulling more on the reins and using more and more contact, trying to lift their horse up and slow it down with force. Instead what I began to do was to teach my horse that if he didn't want to use his body properly and slow down, leading to a lightening of the forehand, then he was going to have to stop abruptly and start over. This way he would learn that it was much easier to go at a slower pace without constant pressure on his mouth. So, when my horse and I picked up the canter in an arena, the second he broke out of a steady pace or began to lean heavily on the bit I would pull my inside rein around to my hip causing him to do a tight circle and I would put my inside leg back and make him yield his hips around, then I would take my inside leg off and apply pressure with the other leg near the girth to make his shoulders move over in the same direction. This way, all of his forward motion would be stopped in such a way that he had to work a great deal harder by picking his feet up a lot higher. Then without stopping I would make him go right back into the canter. If he sped up out of a steady pace or began to lean heavily on the bit I would spin him around again and continue on my way. This exercise is best done in a snaffle or mild bit so that you can properly pull your horse around without hurting his mouth. My horse would eventually get so tired that he would calm down and slowly canter around the arena with a loose rein. Now my horse has learned that it is much easier to canter slowly around on a loose rein than to speed up and stop, over and over. Now, once my horse had completed a few adequate laps going at a steady canter I would pull my inside rein to my hip without using any leg and keep it there until he stopped. One thing to remember is that you probably aren't going to get a nice slow canter the first time you try this exercise, so it's okay if your horse is going a little faster than you'd like it to in the beginning because it will learn later on that the slower it goes the easier the workout will be. So, as soon as he was going at a steady pace, even if it was a little fast, I would pull him around to stop him. I used this exercise consistently for about four to six workouts, which lasted from an hour to two hours each before my horse was consistently cantering around at a nice steady pace. It has been a few months since I did that with him and I still find it helpful to remind him that he needs to slow down by spinning him around when he gets too fast. This exercise also works very well with teaching your horse to stop with minimal contact on the bit. While your horse is cantering around and you are spinning it when appropriate, it is bound to get worn out so to give it a reward after a steady canter pull your inside rein to your hip without any leg pressure and keep the rein in the same position until the horse stops. When your horse does stop make sure you let it stand there to give it a little rest while petting it. If, however, it stops for only a short amount of time and then keeps going, continue to run it around the arena for a few laps and then try stopping again. Your horse will begin to learn that when you want it to stop, it should wisely use this time to rest because it is going to have to work harder if it fusses around.
Last edited by eriray; 08-19-2009 at 06:36 PM.