heavy on forehand - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 07-10-2008, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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heavy on forehand

hey everybody. Well I was just wondering what you can do to get your horse off of the forhand. At the canter dusty feels very heavy in the front and I was just wondering how to get him to push more with his hind end.
Thanks!!

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post #2 of 8 Old 07-10-2008, 09:39 PM
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I would love to hear the answer to this. My horse is also very heavy in the front. Everyone that knows him and has ridden him says that its cause he used to be a roper. He was for like 2 years. But now I want to do barrels with him and he has to learn to use his hind end.
Many people have told me that Rollbacks are useful for getting horses to use their haunches.

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post #3 of 8 Old 07-11-2008, 06:48 AM
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Having a horse work off their rear starts with collection. The simple answer is to hold his front end slightly while you drive his rear. Simple to write but hard to master.

It's started at the halt as you use your seat and legs to drive him while you hold ever so lightly with your hands. Your goal is to move him into the bit, move his head vertical, and round his back. As he moves off he will feel very light. This takes a LOT of time to produce consistently and at first don't be surprised that your horse is confused. You are holding him but driving him. Sooner or later he will figure it out and he will move into the bit (which you have been holding solid down by your thighs but only with light contact); at this moment you will loosen contact just enough to allow him to move forward but you are still holding contact. It is a feel that you need to develop. It will be mechanical at first until you learn the feeling.

Think of a train that has the brakes on slightly in the front car causing drag but the engine is pushing from the rear. The cars bunch up but move forward. It is the same effect.

Hope that helps a little.

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post #4 of 8 Old 07-16-2008, 04:03 PM
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My tb used to do this too, and I agree to push ur horse forward but also when ur cantering if you pick ur hands up about 2 inches higher than normal esp the inside hand it will teach ur horse to get off ur hands and lean back, but you still have to continue to push him forward with ur legs. It does take time but it does work, my horse no longer leans on me at all and I love it.
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post #5 of 8 Old 07-17-2008, 05:48 PM
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I have a problem with some of the explanations. The thought is there, though.

It seems simple, lifting your horses forehand while driving the back. However, the cause of heaviness on the forehand is a balance issue. So if you begin retraining by holding up your hands and asking more leg, your horse, who has not been trained to carry himself properly, is going to lean on your hands. As soon as you drop them, your horse could tumble, and you would follow right over his head.

I am training my horse to do the same. I like to work in a large circle, because the inside flexion (poll) is causing her to lighten on my hands. With gentle squeezes on the reins, (like a sponge) I'm asking her to stretch towards the bit. She now has a pretty head set, but only for a step or two at the most. After I have rewarded her with a subtle "give" of my hands (either opening your fingers or pushing your hands forward) I remind her again that I want her to be light, and start the process again. It's important to ask for lightness at the walk, trot, and eventually canter. Transitions really help. My exercise is just what I use for training my horse, and it's going to be different for everyone. The idea is there, asking for lightness, rewarding, and repeating. You may see silght results by the end of your work, but it may be a quicker response to your hands. Real enforcement and work in this area will ultimately be the "cure" for a heavy horse. Yes, your inside arm will probably want to fall off by the end of it :)

On a side note..

It's so important to reward for lightness. So many riders cling literally on their horse's mouth, trying to "hold" their head down in a fake head set, trying to get them on the bit. That is where heavy horses learn their bad habits, to balance on your hands, and have a weak back end.

So there, my first post on this forum, ande competing to be my longest, is hopefully going to help you.
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post #6 of 8 Old 07-17-2008, 06:49 PM
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I have this problem too. My horse runs off with me and she gets excited which makes her run even more making my job even harder. I try and get her back by half halts but then she breaks the canter into trot
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-17-2008, 08:54 PM
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Commonly this problem comes from physical issues, so all the training techniques in the world won't help if the horse can't actually manage it.

Saddles are one of the biggest problems. More often than not they don't fit the horse well enough - many aren't even designed to. They often sit over the shoulder blades, which can be very damaging. They are also usually fitted to a horse at rest and do not take into account getting a horse fit before trying saddles, or allowing for muscle building, or wastage which may have already occurred. Even a well designed, well fitting saddle needs to be checked for fit and adjusted if necessary at least every 6 months, as horses & saddles change shape. If a saddle is sitting over the scapula or is too long out back & putting pressure on the loins, if it is pinching or bridging or has too much rock, the horse is uncomfortable or worse and may not be physically able to lift his back, balance himself properly.

Saddles are also often at fault regarding rider balance. If they cause the rider to sit forward on their seat bones, the rider may find it nearly impossible to get in balance with their horse & stop leaning forward. The horse may be constantly trying to 'catch up' to the rider.

The same sort of thing can happen if a horse is taught to be collected with rein pressure, or the rider is too heavy handed - the horse may end up leaning on the bit as a sort of crutch because it hasn't been taught self carriage. I think the better way of teaching self carriage & collection is without rein contact first. Eg. Get the horse going in a trot in an arena or such, ask for lots of differences in direction, etc but hold the reins at the buckle unless the horse breaks gait into a canter, for eg. Hill work and obstacles are also good for this. It's also a great way to enhance your own independant seat.

In some cases, hooves & conformation may be the reason for a horse travelling on his forehand. If the heels are high or there are other navicular type or conformation issues then he may be forward becuase he's 'tippy toing'. If this is the cause, he may also be a bit of a stumbler or have problems going down steep hills. If it is due to hoof imbalance, a *good* hoof care practitioner should be able to correct or at least lessen the problems.
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-17-2008, 09:35 PM
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If he's heavy on the forehand he's not using his haunches, so you need to make him rock back on his back legs. I do this with LOTS of transitions and half halts. Hills help as well, but on the flat I do transitions from easy transitions walk-halt or walk-trot moving on to trot-canter and walk-canter to make the horse carry himself. Whatever you do do not put him in a stronger bit, that will cause more problems then it fixes.
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