My horse is down in the front at the canter?
I need help with ideas for training my horse to lift his shoulders at the canter. He is built this way, so it's hard for him to drive with his hindquarters and pick himself up. I would like to solve this riding English. Part of this problem is that he then pulls on the bit. Is there any particular bit I can use to help this? It has been recommended that I use a full-cheek snaffle, but is this the kind of bit I should be using?
Can I guess... he's a TB? Star does this too, like riding down a steep hill - my advice would be to do lots of trot work in half seat, as well as plenty of hill work if that's possible. Also work on getting him to half halt and do plenty of correctly performed circles at the walk to get him stepping underneath himself.
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He's on the forehand.
No bit will fix that.
And any horse can be on the forehand, it doesn't have to be a TB ;)
What level of rider are you, and how much training has this horse had?
My response to how to solve a downhill canter will vary on the training. On my current horse who is training medium level Dressage, I able to ride an octogon shape in canter, instead of a circle, and think of riding a 1/4 piroutte at each point. It usually takes two pirouette moments for him to lift his shoulders.
If a lower level horse that is plain out on the forehand - you need to get his trot off the forehand first. Millions of transitions, changes of rein, leg yield and shoulder fore. The more you can change up the gait, direction etc. the more your horse will need to weight bare on his haunches, to prepare for your requests.
Trot-canter-trot transitions, and trot-halt-trot transitions are particularly beneficial.
The bit won't do a thing. You cannot bring a horse off the forehand by pulling on his mouth. Think of it this way - pulling back on the rein, pushes the hind legs out backwards. Riding the hind legs forward, pushes the head and neck out, thus reaching into the bridle and lifting the wither.
Thanks, I've been riding for 6 years, three English, three Western. My horse is so-so trained. He's not green, but he's not that broke. I know that that's not very helpful, but I don't know that much more. He is trained Western, so the dressage/English is new to him. He isn't exactly lazy, but he doesn't want to do more than he has to.
If he's behind the leg, getting him a bit snappier to your aids will help in getting him off the forehand too. He needs to react immediately to your leg, and remain at that tempo/pace until you tell him otherwise, without you having to nag every stride.
Great! Thanks for all your help! I will get out there and have a go.
Kayty said it very well.
My barrel mare right now is very heavy on the forehand. Obviously, in a high speed sport where the horse has to turn on their hind...That's not only undesireable but dangerous too. The first time I ran her she almost fell ontop of both of us around the first barrel.
Ontop of the octagons, squares, etc Kayty said, I like to do a lot of holding on straight lines and drive drive drive with your legs. At the trot this is my favorite, because it's easier to feel (for me at least) at the trot when they get a real extension in the stride and tuck the butt.
You ride english so this may not be ideal for you, but my other exercise is rollbacks. The barrel racer kind, the run down the fence at Mach 5 and then abruptly turn into the fence. :lol: It's super fun but it can easily make your horse hot. You could probably do it at the trot or slow canter though. They really have no choice but to go onto their hind end or they smack their face on the rail...Just be sure to give enough room. Some people I know get WAY too close to the fence and there is no space for the horse to actually do the rollback, so they DO end up smacking their face....
Even us Dressage riders use those Sorrel ;)
If you get a particularly piggy type that likes to take off, spinning them into the rail from canter then running them forward again in the opposite direction gets them thinking and on the ball very quickly!!
Just regarding riding straight lines going forward - I never, ever, ever use straight lines on a green horse or one on the forehand, unless it's to test my work on a curve. On a curve, you have control over bend, and with bend come softness making it SO much easier to engage a hind leg.
On the straight, it is REALLY easy for a horse to run itself onto the forehand even more - yes the stride may lengthen, but out of disbalance rather than engagement.
Totally cheesy but "Bend is your friend, straight is your horse's mate"! An international GP Dressage rider told me that at a clinic, and the saying has stuck ever since :P
I find when I do reining rollbacks it picks my horse right up......lope across the arena, stop (or slide if I do it right!) back up so horse is on his butt, then roll back...etc etc....it wakes him right up! And he has an awesome rollback!!:lol:
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