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Discussion Starter #1
I swear, every horse I get has issues with being on the forehand. And guess what? I have no idea how to fix it, or even how to look for it! So that is where all you lovely people on HF get to help me out. :) So my questions are...

1. How can you tell if a horse is on the forehand? What are the things to look for?

2. How does being on the forehand effect the horse, and even the rider?

3. How does the rider fix a horse being on the forehand?

Now Bear isn't heavy in my hand, not at all. When I take up contact he doesn't pull on me all that much, either. But, I have had some people here on HF that he is very heavy on the forhand. Here is a video:


Please ignore my riding and Bear being stiff. Found out why he was so stiff... Long story.

I want every idea out there! Please help me people, you're my only hope! ):
 

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1. You can see that he is kind of pulling himself along with his front end. If he was actually collected he would be driving his hind end under him and have a nice round back.
2. It could really hinder you if you wanted to start jumping because if he isn't using his hind end he won't have very much power to to direct him up and over.
 

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pretty much every single horse when not being ridden properly is on the ofrehand, it is just how they go. the whole point of dressage is to lift them up onto their hindquarters. horses go on the forehand because they have alot more weight to carry with their head and neck on that end of them :wink: here is a video of a horse that is off the forehand, mind you, this is a grand prix horse (one of the most amazing ones ever!) it takes years and years to get a horse off the forehand to this extent. do you have a trainer? maybe ask her how to get your horse off the forehand, it will be easier for her to explain it then me :p
:shock:this is a stunning horse to watch!
 

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Now Bear isn't heavy in my hand, not at all. When I take up contact he doesn't pull on me all that much, either. But, I have had some people here on HF that he is very heavy on the forhand. Here is a video:

YouTube - .::.Butterflies.::.

Please ignore my riding and Bear being stiff. Found out why he was so stiff... Long story.

I want every idea out there! Please help me people, you're my only hope! ):
The horse in the video is very heavy on the forehand.

I notice that you have someone in the ring...your instructor? If that is the case just what is she telling you?


The horse is not round, not tracking up, the hind end is being left behind and yes your horse is not heavy in your hand because you have little or no contact.

Now I am going to be blunt. Unless the horse is arthritic in the hind end joints this lessomn should not have been allowed to continue with the horsec in this position. When you get on a horse and ride it you ARE training it whether it be right or wrong. To allow a horseto continue in the wrong position you are training it to BE in the wrong position. The hind end can never be brought under itself if you allow any drive you are giving to sail out the front end and improper contact does just that.

Just what did you do to warm up this horse so it would be less stiff?
 

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First of all, Spyder, I love reading your posts, you know SO much about dressage!

Second- I second all of what Spyder has said. You have to have contact with the horse, and you REALLY have to drive them unto the haunches. I'm lucky because Geof will do it when asked(he's a saint I tell ya!). So, I would talk to your trainer about it, but if you want advice, push him from Seat into Leg into Hand. That is a rule of tumb that alot of riders don't ride by these days, I used to be one of them! (I was also a stupid kid and didn't listen to anyone elses advice.)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies everyone!

I would really like to hear some things I can do to help get a horse off the forhand. Like some excercises, maybe?

And yes Spyder, I have this horrible problem with not hold any contact at all. We are doing the best I can to fix this!

By the way, the lesson I was in was a clinic. I am doing these clinics whenever I can, which is once a month, roughly. I wont be doing one until Jan. That whole lesson was on getting Bear and I to loosen up. We mainly did walk, some light trot, and one round of canter. We stuck to bend circles pretty much and getting him to stretch his neck (as in, I guess, bringing his nose to my foot/knee while I was on him). I have been doing that daily on the ground and have been stretch him legs out daily, which seems to be helping the stiffness, even though im not working him as of right now. We are also working on his hooves, which is another reason that he is so stiff (also the reason that he isn't being ridden right now).

Sorry if I confused any of you with my posts!
 

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pretty much every single horse when not being ridden properly is on the ofrehand, it is just how they go. the whole point of dressage is to lift them up onto their hindquarters. horses go on the forehand because they have alot more weight to carry with their head and neck on that end of them :wink: here is a video of a horse that is off the forehand, mind you, this is a grand prix horse (one of the most amazing ones ever!) it takes years and years to get a horse off the forehand to this extent. do you have a trainer? maybe ask her how to get your horse off the forehand, it will be easier for her to explain it then me :p YouTube - Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas 90.7% KUR European championship Windsor :shock:this is a stunning horse to watch!
Gaw, I saw that video a little while ago and just about died! :p
And good point about the whole "head/neck" thing. Good way to put it to make us dumb people (as in me) understand better!
 

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Stretching to often can acctually lead to problems with horses.

Again, seat into legs into hands. Thats all it takes
 

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O.O Im glad that I just started doing lots of stretching on Wednesday. How many days a week should I stretch him? What kind of stretchs? I have been doing the one where he brings his nose to his side (where the girth would lay) and where I pull his leg out infront of him. Are those okay? Or should I be doing different ones. When I to the neck one his neck tends to pop, is that bad? I am hoping to get his back done early spring. Should he be on joint supplements? I am about to buy some supplements for him (weight and muscle right now), so I was planning on buying some joint supplements for him once I started to ride him again.
 

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I wouldn't go blaming the horses that you ride for having a problem with being on the forehand... I bet if an experienced rider hopped on the horse would come straight off the forehand. It's not your fault, you don't know what to do, but I'd be worried that this has gone on for so long in front of an instructor I'm assuming?

Your first question has been clearly answered so I won't go into that. The second question re: how does being on the forehand affect the horse and rider.
Number 1 It's **** uncomfortable!!! The horse has a hollow back, is stiff and will just fall into transitions, drop it's shoulder into corners which puts the rider off balance etc. making for a horribly uncomfortable ride. Compare this to a horse that is off the forehand, it is balanced, stays upright through turns, will jump into transitions with running on etc. The next step up from being off the forehand is to have the horse's back loose and swinging, where they really carry the rider and often it will feel as though the wither has just grown a few cm's in front of you- best feeling!

Being on the forehand all the time will make it next to impossible to get a nice topline on the horse, and often they have uneven muscles. This is why you're horse is stiff, doing exercises on the ground (stretches) will not do a huge amount to tell you the truth. Getting him up off the forehand, balanced and straight will be what does it.
There is absolutely no point in stretching under saddle and asking the horse to stretch it's neck out when it is on the forehand, as all it will do is lean on it's neck and front legs even more. Being so heavy on the forehand means it is 10x harder to turn as well. In order to ride a balanced turn or circle the hind leg MUST come under the horse's body to take the weight through the curve. If the horse is on the forehand it will compensate by dropping it's inside shoulder and swinging it's hindquarters out.

He may have some medical reason behind being stiff, but riding him on the forehand is going to do him more harm than good and you'd be better off to leave him out of work.

Joint supplements, depends on what is wrong with him. But like Spyder said, unless he has severe arthritis in his hind joints or a shockingly bad back, there's no reason why he should be working like that. Join supplements are not going to make him work correctly and muscle building supplements are not going to give him a topline.

To get him off the forehand, we are NOT your only hope, not by a long shot. You can't really explain over the internet how to ride a horse off the forehand other than a few generalised comments as everyone rides differently and every horse travels differently.
You can try lots of transitions (trot-canter-trot is the BEST for getting their back working!!), teach im leg yield so that he moves off your leg and understands to pick that inside hind leg up and under himself, LOTS of changes of rein etc.

My advice, quite going to these 'clinics' or goign to the instructor you're with now because they're not doing a thing for you. Hunt around and try out some different instructors in your area that will pick up your faults and get you working that horse off the forehand and correctly. A good instructor is your last hope, NOT a horse forum!
 

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pretty much every single horse when not being ridden properly is on the ofrehand, it is just how they go. the whole point of dressage is to lift them up onto their hindquarters. horses go on the forehand because they have alot more weight to carry with their head and neck on that end of them :wink: here is a video of a horse that is off the forehand, mind you, this is a grand prix horse (one of the most amazing ones ever!) it takes years and years to get a horse off the forehand to this extent. do you have a trainer? maybe ask her how to get your horse off the forehand, it will be easier for her to explain it then me :p YouTube - Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas 90.7% KUR European championship Windsor :shock:this is a stunning horse to watch!
Yeah amazing if you cover his back end. Very good example of a flashy, 'modern' dressage horse :? Really fantastic front end with no hind end to be seen.... maybe if they kept the camera at the same position on the arena the hind legs would eventally come into view:? Everyone aims to have their horses like that, and these WB's with huge flashy front ends are being bred by the thousands because that's what's winnign at the moment, no one is even sparing a thought for what the intentions of dresage are anymore. it's sad.
 

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Stretching around 3-4 days a week tops showed the best results.
 

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Yeah amazing if you cover his back end. Very good example of a flashy, 'modern' dressage horse :? Really fantastic front end with no hind end to be seen.... maybe if they kept the camera at the same position on the arena the hind legs would eventally come into view:? Everyone aims to have their horses like that, and these WB's with huge flashy front ends are being bred by the thousands because that's what's winnign at the moment, no one is even sparing a thought for what the intentions of dresage are anymore. it's sad.
ya, i have seen some horses with a fantastic hind end tho, lol i think totalis is like, double jointed in his shoulders or something,:shock: haha but i dont thinks hes normal :p
 

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Yep some horses, but they're not the ones winning up at the top level international dressage comps right now, or if they do it's very rarely. EVERY horse at the top at the moment other than Steffan Peter's stallion look amazing in front and yes, they have nice hock action, but the hocks aren't under them by any means. Not one of them tracks up in extended trot, NOT ONE!! Canter is 4 beat, piaffe is great in front but the back legs do a funny little hop skip jump then off into passage.

And good commment re his shoulders, EXACTLY the point I made above, everyone stares at the front end and thinks the horse is unbelivable, and because the front is so spectacular no one looks to see if the horse is even tracking up!
 

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First of all, I love the polo wraps!

To be honest, I don't think it's fair to blame the instructor here. Her instructor clearly hasn't taught her how to get the horse off the forehand yet. Either her instructor doesn't know (in which case you might consider looking for a new one) or maybe she just doesn't think that you are ready to learn it yet.

When you first learned to ride, you couldn't learn everything at once. Maybe your instructor taught you how not to yank on your pony's mouth before she started to talk about your heels. When you started to learn how to trot, you probably learned how to post to the rhythm of the trot before you learned how to do it gracefully.

Yes, a balanced horse will develop the proper muscles, round his back, drive with his hind legs, etc. And I agree that not knowing how to balance your horse will only solidify the way he goes right now. However, I think we can all agree that some things do come first before the way a horse goes. A solid seat, quiet hands, and effective aids. You can't sit the canter if you have no base of support. You can't effectively ask for the trot if your hands are bouncing all over the place. Similarly, you can't ask for a horse to come off the forehand until the basics are in place.

I think your instructor, who has seen you ride for years, has a better idea of whether or not you are ready to learn how to bring your horse off the forehand than we, random horse people on the internet who only have a few clips from one day to go on. Because of this, I don't think it's fair to blame the instructor.

I have two last things to say to you. First, it was a good idea to start this thread. It has spurred a good discussion from what I can see and it will help you to learn all that you can so that when you are ready to advance, you will know a lot about the topic and hopefully will have a better understanding of what needs to be done. Second, it could never hurt to ask your instructor what you should be doing. It doesn't need to be a big production, but your instructor is there for a reason. Ask her if she thinks your horse is too much on the forehand. If she says no, that's a pretty good clue that maybe she won't be able to go much further with you. If you are interested in advancing, and your instructor can't help you anymore, you may want to start looking for a more advanced instructor.
 

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If her instructor has seen her ride for years, I'm pretty sure she should be 'ready' to have the horse off the forehand by now if the instructor is worth anything. My dad has been riding once a fortnight since the end of April this year, and already he has progressed to riding my old dressage horse, a VERY marey mare who will quite happily fall on her face at every oppertunity. My dad can get that mare off the forehand and travelling round with no problems.

The vast majority of the beginners my coach takes on will have the horse off the forehand, if not round and starting to get an understanding of a swinging back within 6 months. So a few years is overshooting the mark a little.

I am not by any means at all taking a shot at the OP. Not at all! This is not her fault, she clearly has not been taught to ride the horse off the forehand, which is the coaches job. After a few years her hands shouldn't being going all over the place and having no balance as was said above if the coach had any ability at all.
So I'm sticking with my belief that it very much, is the fault of the coach. Yes he/she may not know how to get a horse off the forehand, therefore there is no way they should be teaching their lack-of knowledge to new riders.
 

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each rider is different, as is each horse. Maybe the rider or even the horse are not at that stage, if you look at the german training scale, a lot of things come before that. You never know maybe they are working on something else. I would not bash the instructor for personalizing how she trains to fit each horse and rider. We only know part of the whole, so no one on here has a real right to blame anyone yet :)
 

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each rider is different, as is each horse. Maybe the rider or even the horse are not at that stage, if you look at the german training scale, a lot of things come before that. You never know maybe they are working on something else. I would not bash the instructor for personalizing how she trains to fit each horse and rider. We only know part of the whole, so no one on here has a real right to blame anyone yet :)
 

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No part in the training scale has the horse on the forehand????? Off the forehand doesn't mean collection or roundness, it just means that the horse isn't hauling itself on it's front legs. And no horse should be going around like that for years on end, good sign that something has to change. If the OP and her horse have only been together for a couple of months however, totally different and very much fair neough that they haven't found the right 'button' to get the horse using his back end. But as said a few times above, unless there is a medical reason in his back end that literally prevents him from swinging his hinds under and taking weight, then he should be quite able to come off the forehand.
 
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