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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wow. I have not had this problem before, so I thought I'd ask for a little help:
My 5 year old gelding and I had a lesson this past Sunday. I noticed right away he was pulling through my hands, and very heavy on the bit. I did not have a problem stopping/backing him up, but just going along at the trot he really wanted to stick his beak out and pull through the bit. Usually when he does that, I bump his nose by alternating reins left right left right. He is excellent to put his head back down and collect after that reminder, but he would only last a few strides before sticking his head up again.
Now, it's been a while since his teeth have been done (the vet is doing them this week) could this be the issue? My trainer also suggested maybe the bit is too soft and suggested the controversial Tom Thumb, just for a few weeks to remind him that behaviour is not ok (I have him in a double jointed copper snaffle currently.) I really feel my hands are not soft enough for the Tom Thumb bit, as I do get a little jumpy sometimes and don't want to yank his head off.
So, any suggestions as to why he is doing this? I am really hoping he was just having an off day, he has been doing really well and was finally looking and moving like a nicely broke horse, and it is not really his bag to be defiant (well, maybe a little naughty sometimes!!) Thanks everyone!
 

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I am thinking maybe balance? But if you said he has always been fine before that, then I think it may be something else. Either it was an off day (horses seem to have lots of those :roll: ) or there could be another underlying problem with him.

It could have even maybe been you, even if you didn't notice it? Maybe you were abit unbalanced, or something else? It happens alot with me...I will think that Night Heat or Damper are just being naughty or unresponsive, but then my instructor will point out to me what I was doing wrong, etc. When I correct that "mistake" (or whatever you may call it), the horse would respond much better. So before you think there may be something wrong with your horse, just check yourself out first. :wink:
 

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If his teeth are due to be done, I wouldn't be surprised if that's the problem. I'm curious to hear how he does post-float.

As far as actually getting him off his forehand and off your hands, do lots of transitions. Walk, trot, canter, and rein-back. Don't go longer than one lap without asking for and getting a change in direction, gait, speed, or balance. Also do transitions within gaits: slow, medium, and fast W/T/C while maintaining rhythm. The upward transitions help establish and maintain forwardness, and the downward side of the transition coin shifts the weight distribution backwards, lightening the forehand. Try half-halts as well to re-balance him. Additionally, double check your position. If your hands are a little off position-wise, that can contribute to the way your horse is reacting to the bit.

A horse heavy on the forehand is either an issue of discomfort (which you are looking into with the teeth) or an issue of training. Upping the bit strength is not a permanent fix; eventually he will be heavy on the TT if the root of the heaviness is not addressed.

Best of luck! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
nobody's perfect right:) It could very well be me, I am not overly experienced so who knows right? I am working with an instructor who is quick to point out when I need to relax, etc, and she didn't say anything about me, just that he seemed really heavy.....here's hoping it was just an off day :\
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As far as actually getting him off his forehand and off your hands, do lots of transitions.
I LOVE transitions to limber him up and get his focus.....best suggestion ever. We do them every time we ride because he is still a baby and it helps a lot.

She only suggested the TT temporarily (for a few weeks) and then to switch back. I guess she does this on a regular basis as a training tool and her horses are amazing...then again she rides 8 hours a day 7 days a week *jealous*
 

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^^ Wow! She's soo lucky! I'd love to be able to do that....
 

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I'd have his teeth checked for sure, but my guess is that he's falling on his forehand due to an inactive hind end.
He may not physically have the muscles to support himself if you are trying to get him into a frame - in which case you will have to gradually build up to it.
If he is in fact inactive in his hind end, I would do lots of work at trot. Have him leg yield off a quarter line consistently. Have him ride in a 20m square (ride straight, half halt, turn on the haunches, ride straight, etc). Lots of transitions, making sure he's tucked in an upward transition, and try to keep him from falling onto his forehand in a downward transition.
 

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My only lil piece of advice on this is once you go 'up' in bit, it can sometimes be difficult to get back down.
 

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My only lil piece of advice on this is once you go 'up' in bit, it can sometimes be difficult to get back down.
Agree totally. I have my clyde X in a waterford gag-hoping to go back to the snaffle of the old days.....after he lightened up...but alas.....it has now been YEARS! We have worked on softness and bending forever! He is like riding a fridge! Love him tho.:wink:
 

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Once you get 2000# on the move...its hard to stop! I did the same thing with my hefty QH...moved him off of a snaffle and on to a sliding gag...we can use the snaffle in the ring...but on the trail is the gag or he turns into a barn runner! LOL
 

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Usually when he does that, I bump his nose by alternating reins left right left right. He is excellent to put his head back down and collect after that reminder, but he would only last a few strides before sticking his head up again.
You are not collecting and bumping him or sawing is a dead end street that serves no purpose at all. You shorten his gait so he will now travel disconnected from his hind end and all impulsion is lost....no wonder he puts his head out.

I really feel my hands are not soft enough for the Tom Thumb bit, as I do get a little jumpy sometimes and don't want to yank his head off.
To do this in a bit that reputation wise, tends to pinch the horse is a double whammy for the horse and if you insist on this bit you better have good hands.


As far as actually getting him off his forehand and off your hands, do lots of transitions.
I LOVE transitions to limber him up and get his focus.....best suggestion ever.
Yes it is but to do transitions for transition sake will also serve no useful purpose To be effective they need to be asked or at the right time and entered into when the horse is ready, not when you have preplanned them.
 

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I'd have his teeth checked for sure, but my guess is that he's falling on his forehand due to an inactive hind end.
He may not physically have the muscles to support himself if you are trying to get him into a frame - in which case you will have to gradually build up to it.
If he is in fact inactive in his hind end, I would do lots of work at trot. Have him leg yield off a quarter line consistently. Have him ride in a 20m square (ride straight, half halt, turn on the haunches, ride straight, etc). Lots of transitions, making sure he's tucked in an upward transition, and try to keep him from falling onto his forehand in a downward transition.
Best advice so far. In addition, pay great attention to your own position. If you're leaning forward even a little bit, you're encouraging him to be on his forehand. Your instructor needs to teach you how to do a half-halt. This is the perfect situation to learn it in.
 

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Yes, buy the biggest Mikmar combination bit that you can find and rip his face off. That'll teach 'im to lean on you! While you're at it, get some huge roweled spurs and two dressage whips so that when he ceases to go forward, you can beat him too. Then you might also consider a tie down for when he starts rearing, and a bucking strap for the bucking issues. Sounds like a great plan.

Or you could first rule out medical problems (hocks, teeth, etc..) and then try actually riding him. The reason horses fall on the forehand is because they aren't engaged. Ride from back to front and he will become light in front because he will be pushing and carrying behind - not propelling himself with his front legs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes, buy the biggest Mikmar combination bit that you can find and rip his face off. That'll teach 'im to lean on you! While you're at it, get some huge roweled spurs and two dressage whips so that when he ceases to go forward, you can beat him too. Then you might also consider a tie down for when he starts rearing, and a bucking strap for the bucking issues. Sounds like a great plan.

Not to sound snippy, but I did say I am not comfortable changing bits. I don't feel it will solve it. I don't like using "devices" or gimmicks when riding.

His teeth were done this week. I am going to try the square techinique and hope it was just an off day.

It's hard to read some of these replies, some of you make me feel like such a sub par horse owner. I had him vet checked, I work with an instructor. I just wanted a little advice, not to be bullied.

Can the next replies not be so sarcastic please?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I do have a bad habit of leaning forward :( I really have to be aware of "rider errors" before pointing the blame at him and saying he is being naughty!
 

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It's hard to read some of these replies, some of you make me feel like such a sub par horse owner. I had him vet checked, I work with an instructor. I just wanted a little advice, not to be bullied.

Can the next replies not be so sarcastic please?
My reply was not in any way intended to make you feel sub-par and I certainly hope it that it didn't. Just because maybe you are unaware of something does not make you less then anyone else, the HorseForum is a great community to learn from.
My jumper is very heavy in my hands and I have developed quite a few great techniques with the help of my coach to keep him engaged from behind. If you find that this is your problem I would be more then happy to share the techniques that work for me with you, you can PM me or post a new thread. :wink:
 

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If he has been trained Western--little or no pressure on the bit--and he does this pretty consistantly then he may be saying "get out of my mouth".

If he has been trained to be truly collected--not just the head set-- then you are not getting the proper balance.

If he has chosen the bit as the argument of the day then change the argument to one you can win. Lateral flexion usually works with a snaffle (with a curb chain).

If he is just excited about a new enviroment or just exited a wet saddle blanket will generally settle him down.

If he needs more training then he needs more training. Usually issues that appear are the result of a hole in the training or point to a "tune up". All horses need regular "tune ups".

For sure lighter is better. Going heavier with any pressure doesn't solve the problem and most of the time it just makes it worse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
My reply was not in any way intended to make you feel sub-par and I certainly hope it that it didn't. Just because maybe you are unaware of something does not make you less then anyone else, the HorseForum is a great community to learn from.
My jumper is very heavy in my hands and I have developed quite a few great techniques with the help of my coach to keep him engaged from behind. If you find that this is your problem I would be more then happy to share the techniques that work for me with you, you can PM me or post a new thread. :wink:
I would LOVE to hear about those techniques please...I feel like he is not engaged in his hindquarters and this may be our issue (on top of him having an off day!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I had a baby fairly recently and he's had a 2 month break......could this be part of the issue too? Maybe he is just telling me he was happier on hiatus and does not want to go back to work?
 

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I think the reason that Spyder and anabel specifically were a little snippy is because you asked how to do some advanced work, without knowledge of advanced riding. Getting a horse collected takes a fair bit of training on both the riders and the horses part, and to expect results sooner than they should be appearing will only do everyone involved a disservice. Do yourself a favor and browse through the site The Art of Classical Riding--Dressage Training for Horse and Rider. It illustrates the complete dressage training scale (way down at the bottom) in which contact is 3rd on the list, and collection is last. There's also a great section at the top about improving your riding and improving your use of seat and legs to communicate, rather than hands. I believe the saying is "legs, to seat, to hands to softness". Even if you are not riding dressage, its the basis of almost every English discipline, and western horse can do well from learning it as well! The tips on the legs and seat can be used in any discipline.

If you stick around, you'll find that a lot of the best knowledge comes without a sugar coating.
 
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