Downhill horse heavy on the forehand - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-14-2020, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Downhill horse heavy on the forehand

I have owned Diesel about 6 months. He is a 10 year old grade paint 15”1 gelding. He was a rescue orphan foal. After getting healthy and old enough to train he was briefly ridden dressage. Unfortunate he developed a bad habit of bucking off his owner and sat for over a year when I got him.

I slowly got him into shape, and got his teethe done, as he had wolf teethe and some retained baby teethe. His mouth has fully healed now since that was 3 months ago.

I did work for a dressage trainer for about 5 years but not currently. I didn’t think Diesel looked like he was happy with dressage and I decided to try western riding or at least western tack. I will be using him for mostly trail riding as that is where we are happiest. He is doing well except for the following:

He is built downhill and very heavy on the forehand. I have tried lunging and groundwork working on collection or at least trying to engage the hind end some. I have tried a Pesseo system on him but he just inverted his back and U’d his neck, which is worse. I try to ride from my seat to bring his hind end up and under, but he won’t do it. He gets stiff and pins his ears. When he doesn’t pay attention he trips. He has ADD and acts more like a 4 year old than a 10 year old. I am riding him in a Myler D ring. His saddle does fit from what I can tell. I have also had two other trainers tell me it does. I cannot find a western saddle fitter out here. I have tried. I did go through many saddles before I found this one.

On the trail he does well. We do allot of hills and climb some mountains. He occasionally has a big spook but recovers well.

I have worked on trying to get him off the forehand but just cannot do it. I have had suggestions from people to use side reins, tie downs, martingale, but I don’t think that will help since the pesseo just made him worse.

Any help would be great.
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-14-2020, 02:38 PM
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I would just enjoy him as a trail horse and forget about collection. You are fighting his conformation. Not that he has bad conformation......he is lovely! But he's not built to move very collected. He's the type of horse that is built to be moving along "western" with a loose rein. Just my opinion of course, and others might have different thoughts. But my thoughts are western breeds aren't built to move like dressage horses.

You can still squeeze him up into the bridle and ask him to back off the bit........sort of like a western pleasure Arabian but I think he will always be heavy on the forehand because that's how he is built. This is the most collection I would try to achieve:

And most of the time we would be like this:

But I am coming from a trail riding background for whatever that's worth. But I used to do the "western pleasure Arabian" thing a lot to smooth out my rougher trotting trail horses and make them feel lighter in the bridle and on their feet. I would just try that a few minutes at a time and walk on a loose rein for a while and then try again. Just sort of squeeze him up and asking him to back off the bridle at the same. You can do that at both a walk and a trot.

Last edited by trailhorserider; 08-14-2020 at 02:43 PM.
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post #3 of 5 Old 08-14-2020, 02:48 PM
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Like @trailhorserider said, and she described the technique well, you can optimize his gaits, but his conformation will always be against you
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-14-2020, 04:55 PM
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I agree with the above - just let him walk out on a loose rein. As you mentioned, you are going to do mostly trail riding with him so he doesn't need to be collected to do that.

My one guy can get heavy on the forehand and all I use him for is trail/endurance. Since I do so much trotting on trail with him, I DO notice if he gets heavy on my hand. And I will try to push him to engage his hind end more. I switched from a french link to small curb bit and he seems to respond to this better when I do ask him to engage himself.

But since we just do trails, I don't bother lunging, using side reins or trying to force him into a frame. In my mind it just doesn't make sense and is pointless. In fact, it just frustrates both him and me, so I let him be and we just enjoy our trails.
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-14-2020, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Ok. Sounds like a plan! I’ll just let him be himself. Thank you for the input.
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