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Zephyr
Nov. 16, 2009, 12:55 PM
Hi all,

I just got a new horse (yay!). Yesterday was our first time out on the cross-country course. He's wonderful because he doesn't run off, buck, speed, etc. The thing I did have trouble with is that he's soooo heavy on the forehand going downhill - it's like a deadweight pulling solidly down on my arms, and I can't get him up & back before a fence.

I always ride in a French-link snaffle, so what would you suggest I try? Is this a classic case for a gag? Are those best for getting a horse "up?" He's just so opposite of my old horse, where I had to keep my hands planted low to keep him from throwing his head up.

He also tends to lean into his shoulder and try to turn when we're going straight, so if I could lift the shoulders up individually, that would be helpful as well. Thanks!

Jazzy Lady
Nov. 16, 2009, 01:07 PM
Before you change your bit, change your ride. If he's getting low, pick your hands up first. If you are riding with low hands, it will not work with a horse that is prone to getting on the forehand. Whenever my guy is getting strong, even in his big bits, the best thing I can do is remind myself to pick my hands up and ride him UP into my hands.

luise
Nov. 16, 2009, 01:21 PM
I would try a wonder bit (or beval bit). My old draft cross was a bit on the forehand, and once I switched to the wonder bit he was great!

Zephyr
Nov. 16, 2009, 02:36 PM
Before you change your bit, change your ride. If he's getting low, pick your hands up first. If you are riding with low hands, it will not work with a horse that is prone to getting on the forehand. Whenever my guy is getting strong, even in his big bits, the best thing I can do is remind myself to pick my hands up and ride him UP into my hands.

Getting my hands up definitely helps a ton - but there is still a sense of heavily weighted "drag" going down those hills. I'd like to have some arms left by the end of XC! We don't need more braking power, and I don't want him to back off the jumps more, so eventually I'd love to be back in a snaffle... just not sure if we should use a bit with more "hoist" until he responds a lot quicker to my lifted hand... you're right though, the USE of the reins is probably the most important.

bornfreenowexpensive
Nov. 16, 2009, 02:41 PM
If you are going to change bits...maybe try a Dr. Bristol....but also..don't forget to use your leg. If he is not going straight....fix that with your leg first.

It could just be a strength thing if you feel it most going down hill....or his hocks.

You also just got him. It could just be you need a little time to sort out how to ride him xc...you might need to give him a CTJ half halt and then let/make him carry himself.

Catalina
Nov. 16, 2009, 02:44 PM
My guy is very heavy on the forehand going downhill too. I recently got him a mullen mouth happy mouth three ring (http://www.doversaddlery.com/product.asp?pn=X1-010033&ids=102715428) and the difference was amazing. I could half halt and bring him up and let go and he would stay light with mild contact.

corgigirl14
Nov. 16, 2009, 07:51 PM
I had a similar problem with my OTTB several years ago. To help with this when I would condition him I would do a lot of speed up slow down exercises at the canter (using my body NOT my hands) all the while almost having a loose rein so he wouldn't brace himself against my rein. This helped to build up his "engine" muscles and he learned how to carry himself.

For competitions I use a segunda bit. It changed my life...seriously.

http://www.statelinetack.com/item/korsteel-segunda-full-cheek-bit-5-inch/SLT900239/

deltawave
Nov. 16, 2009, 09:05 PM
Having tried literally every permutation of bit that exists for my heavy and wanting-to-pull Irish mare, I can say from my experience that in the end, it makes not one bit of difference what's in their mouth if you aren't schooling and riding the beast properly. That said, I have found that a very occasional school in a pelham (we're at the point where it's once a month or so) serves as a reminder when the opinionated thing just decides it's worth the fight and when you really don't WANT to spend an entire 40 minutes doing trot-halt transitions. ;) Without the prep-work, however, this would be a worthless endeavor as a pelham used to just make her curl up and disappear. Now she accepts it as a wake-up call and more often than not even 10 minutes is enough and I can switch back to what has wound up being her go-to bit: a plain, loose ring french link snaffle. Which is the bit she was started in as a 3yo. :lol:

Bravestrom
Nov. 16, 2009, 09:21 PM
My older son rides a very large belgian/tb cross - she is extremely strong - the gag has done wonders with her.

Outyougo
Nov. 16, 2009, 10:03 PM
My guy is a TB (x Moose) and while quite wonderful the first year or two UP was not in his vocabulary! Larger than I usually pick out--oops

I spent a lot of time getting good flat work basics in a simple loose ring snaffle. He was fine at Novice but at 17hh the jumps were more like speed bumps. At Training I used a broken pelham but he learned to curl behid it., then rode this summer in a gag with 2 reins. At the Prelim all the reins were a lot to keep track of! So.. I use a ported D ring snaffle in the SJ and am liking the Beval/Wilke X-C.

Mostly though I am finding the UP with maturing and training. My guy is no way a run away just BIG fortunately he is honest and a powerful jumper! The larger jumps at Prelim make me sit up. The size of the jumps make him have to use himself better. ant this makes him an easier ride. and WAY FUN!

Equibrit
Nov. 16, 2009, 10:12 PM
Learn how to balance your horse correctly.

Zephyr
Nov. 17, 2009, 08:08 AM
Oh - and he is full TB, if that matters!


I had a similar problem with my OTTB several years ago. To help with this when I would condition him I would do a lot of speed up slow down exercises at the canter (using my body NOT my hands) all the while almost having a loose rein so he wouldn't brace himself against my rein. This helped to build up his "engine" muscles and he learned how to carry himself.

For competitions I use a segunda bit. It changed my life...seriously.

http://www.statelinetack.com/item/korsteel-segunda-full-cheek-bit-5-inch/SLT900239/
That was what my instructor said to work on to improve our dressage, too... interesting! Guess I know what we'll be working on this winter :cool:


Learn how to balance your horse correctly.
Well, yes, thank you - I am trying to!! We have only XC schooled once, and going down the hills there was just NO response to my seat/leg/hand balancing aids... but of course that will improve with time... I'm just not sure how much of a problem it will be in 5 months from now when we actually need to go to a show; trying to sort out all of my possible options before that :) Lots of cold nights to think on these things!

scubed
Nov. 17, 2009, 10:31 AM
I had a young TB who was a bit this way and I found that changing the ride in conjunction with a waterford baucher was helpful. After a few rides in that, switched to the KK Butterfly Boucher and he ran through training wonderfully, but there was a lot of the training and riding piece as well as the bit change, which I think sometimes did its best work in reminding me that I was on a horse that might want to get low, so I should ride correctly :yes: