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  1. #1
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    Question How to get a horse in front of your leg....

    I figured the dressage forum would be best for this question.

    I have a 5 year old tb/wb cross that is always behind my leg.


    He is worse tracking right.


    I have tried spurs and a stick, but he doesn't really react much to them.


    Especially when I try to bend and keep him bridled in circles to the right he really wants to fight the contact and fall back into a trot. Sometimes I just feel like I am fighting an uphill battle with him!

    He has always been quite lazy and I blame myself for his early training that I didn't demand forward from him early on.


    Any ideas or tips to help me get him to shape better and stay forward?

    This is especially frustrating when jumping because when I adjust around a turn and need to add some pace, he tends to do the opposite and slow down or move away from my leg which takes away my distance and sometimes he will change leads.



  2. #2
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    I had balking /lazy problems with my horse so can offer a few bits of advice...one, check out the physical make sure there is no issue.

    2, Instead of spurs and stick, which they can tune out, just kick the crap out of him till he moves smartly forward, and back it up with stick if neede, but try to accomplish it with your legs alone . I know this sounds crude , however if a horse won't move forward off a leg aid there is not even basic equitation let alone dressage..

    Another tactic for "unsticking " them is send him around in a small circle, booting him with leg till you get his attention and feel him wake up. Then send him on again with soft but firm leg aids. Some horses also need to feel more of a hug against their sides at all times.

    Also check saddle fit.

    Once he starts to respond to you, you can leave the crudeness behind and use regular leg aids backed up by a tap with the stick here and there if need be. Imo, I'd leave spurs out of it till he is more educated.



  3. #3
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    I'd prefer to re-sensitize him if it were me... start him again in hand and make sure he moves away from a tap of the whip or the pressure of your hand. Use positive reinforcement for gradually escalated levels of response and never, ever allow him to lapse in his attention to you. Once you have a consistent response in hand you can start the same under saddle (it typically doesn't take long).

    I personally don't think that 'booting' him is the answer here... if the poor boy was started this way he's only acting according to the boundaries the trainer set him. Make sure you show him what you want before you punish him for not doing it.
    Proud COTH lurker since 2001.


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  4. #4
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    I have a horse that likes sucked back as a pace. What worked for him was hacking out. It's easier to get forward on a trail -WTCG. I'd put away the spurs and whip because he's tuning them out and they won't work when you need them later as cues and marks (JMO).

    Brionesrider's notion works very well as long as you don't punish the bolt or the leap inadvertently by pulling him up with your reins in a "whoa". When you smack him and he explodes forward you have to let him. So if you have a grab strap use it.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


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  5. #5
    Samotis is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    Physically he is great. Back is fine so no saddle issue.

    He is weaker to the right and the right side is my bad side so it only makes sense that is our problem lead.

    I have used the cluck, then leg and then smack and that worked but it was in a western bridle. Maybe it is time for that bridle again.


    Another issue is him moving into my leg in circles/turns. When I ask him to move over he pushes into me. I guess that's when a smack will be needed.

    He moves off my leg and can turn on forehand, haunches and back up fine. So he understands what's needs to happen, he just forgets to the right at a canter.

    I know he is still young and this is all a process.

    I appreciate the tips.



  6. #6
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    I have one in training that's 12 years old who didn't understand forward.
    1. Walk halts in hand, in side reins with piaffe whip. On the wall. See how subtle things can get
    2. Get rid of the stick and spur. Hop on and just sit there. Literally, no steering, just let him wander for 45 minutes
    3. Don't use your leg, use your core for forward
    4. Cavaletti in the corners. Set them like a fan, as he works through the corners, let him sort it out.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  7. #7
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    I have one who can lean in to my leg aids too if I am not very attentive. Some tricks that I have had to add to my toolkit are:
    -Make sure that you insist on a prompt response to every lateral aid no matter what gait you are in. It must be from a light aid, and it must start at the walk. Don't take even a moment of hesitation just because its the walk, or the trot. This will translate into a nightmare at the canter.
    -A few minutes of ground work before your ride can go a long way towards setting you up for success. I try to do some long-lining once a week, and some basic turns on the forehand each direction in hand as often as possible.
    -Work lots of bending and counter-bending to help get your horse truly and honestly between your legs before you go to the canter. Leg yielding on the circle can help a lot too.
    The lateral work will help you engage the hind end and get more forward as well. Good luck!
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


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  8. #8
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    I love this thread, going forward is something that I am working on too. Their have been alot of good tips so far.
    Some things that have helped me get better (Its a work in progress)
    1. look at your position, make sure you aren't gripping with leg and desensitizing him, or behind the motion.
    2.transitions transitions, transitions, when he is behind the leg ask him to go forward (think lengthening, or upwards transition) ask nice, then a nice good tap with the whip. Repeat transitions until he improves.
    Last edited by Kimchi; May. 26, 2013 at 11:55 PM. Reason: Horrible spelling



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimchi View Post
    I love this thread, going forward is something that I am working on too. Their have been alot of good tips so far.
    Some things that have helped me get better (Its a work in progress)
    1. look at your position, make sure you aren't gripping with leg and desensitizing him, or behind the motion.
    2.transitions transitions, transitions, when he is behind the leg ask him to go forward (think lengthening, or upwards transition) ask nice, then a nice good tap with the whip. Repeat transitions until he improves.
    I agree most with this response. Make sure your body isn't incidentally telling him to slow down. Make sure you're following him with your hands and seat. It helps me to think of things as an ask and answer.. You can't just ask ask ask without allowing the horse to answer. However, that answer needs to be prompt.

    I would also look at the transition into the canter. Once you ask, it needs to happen NOW. Not in five steps. Ask quietly ("normally"), and if there isn't a response, TAP. Come back and ask quietly again. He's got to go, and go NOW. But it's vital that you allow this forward energy. Keep a soft contact and a relaxed seat. Then, once he's going, he is not to slow down unless you ask. If he does start to slow down though, don't nag. Let him make the mistake and break into trot, then correct it promptly. If you let him slowly canter and now listen, you enter that weird disconnected limbo. Let him break, then fix it. Soon he'll learn its easier to just keep cantering.

    The most important factor is consistency. No "lazy" days with this stuff... go means go. Yes, take hacks and have fun, but really go still means go



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samotis View Post
    I figured the dressage forum would be best for this question.

    I have a 5 year old tb/wb cross that is always behind my leg.


    He is worse tracking right.


    I have tried spurs and a stick, but he doesn't really react much to them.


    Especially when I try to bend and keep him bridled in circles to the right he really wants to fight the contact and fall back into a trot. Sometimes I just feel like I am fighting an uphill battle with him!

    He has always been quite lazy and I blame myself for his early training that I didn't demand forward from him early on.


    Any ideas or tips to help me get him to shape better and stay forward?

    This is especially frustrating when jumping because when I adjust around a turn and need to add some pace, he tends to do the opposite and slow down or move away from my leg which takes away my distance and sometimes he will change leads.
    Then for G-d's sake, let go of his face!

    Sorry, I just read the OP and saw "I'm holding him back but telling him to go forward at the same time." If he's never learned forward in the first place, trying to hold him in a false frame will only make things worse.

    I like to think of it as keeping your horse in front of your seat, rather than in front of your leg. If you're not holding the horse back, and your position is not at fault and blocking his motion, then the advice about not nagging but asking, then demanding, then asking again comes into play.

    For my horse once I've done a couple walk/canter transitions he's in front of my leg no matter how lazy he is that day, but some days it takes a firm correction when he attempts to ignore my polite requests before a walk/canter is even possible.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed


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  11. #11
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    I agree with what many have said here. It's hard to tell what's going on without seeing video. But..... If you have a "forward" problem, then encourage forward. I disagree with "kicking" the crap out of him...that'll make a dull and unresponsive horse. Hack out in the field. Get up off your tack and GALLOP, I mean GALLOP around your ring. If you think you're galloping, have a ground person actually confirm that you are galloping and not just cantering. Work your horse over very small fences at a good clip. WORK in a forward pace. If he is worse to the right, then that's his stiff side. All horses have a stiffer side. It's up to the rider to gymnasticize the horse so that the horse evens out over time. You say he was in a western bridle and went better. Was that a curb bit? Long shanks? Western bridles/riding don't normally invite contact, so it sounds to me like your horse just isn't used to contact and/or your hand contact is too strong for him. Are you retraining him from Western riding? Pretty much, all horses lean into contact as a first response. You have to train them to yield to it. If your horse is leaning into your leg, he doesn't understand your aid or your aid is too strong/you are just pushing into him without the finesse to ask him to move over. Timing is everything, and your aids should be timed with the movement of the legs of the horse, not just constant pushes. Don't punish your horse, retrain him. And be aware that he just might be responding to exactly what you're asking of him (in other words, he's doing what you're telling him to do, whether that's what you think your saying to him or not).
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


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  12. #12
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    The only reason I recomend "kicking the crap out of them", (and trust me, I know it sounds crude and ridiculous), I recommend it is because it worked, at least for me. I t worked, because my horse was dull to my LEG AID, thus I had to solve it with my leg.

    Tying to cure lack of forward with ask, then demand backed up by whip, which is what is typically recommended and which it sounds like OP already tried, did nothing. He'd tune out the whip, or kick out at it or buck, but not go forward, or if he went forward, it was sullen and reluctant. Galloping around a ring...it works for galloping and letting horse out, but still does not solve the problem, the horse has to listen to the leg aid to go forward.

    I only had to do the kicking a week or so and he got it and now is a different horse, very forward and moves right off my leg. No spurs, and I carry the whip but rarely use it now and if I need it, it's a light flick , as it is meant to be used.

    For my horse, lots of trail work and riding outside ring is helping a lot as well.

    Same thing works on a circle, if he is leaning into the leg on one side, give a sharp, quick kick with leg on that side to get him off it.

    I avoided "kicking" my horse for a year because it is not lauded in dressage and makes the rider look like a jerk, but finally, in frustration, I left the whip in the barn, and solved it with my legs alone, and now just use the whip as the light aid it is meant to be. I don't think the it would hurt for the OP to try it for a few days, she can always abandon it if it doesn't work for her.

    (It might be used by some trainers in dressage, Stephen Peters recommended in an online clinic a good sharp kick to a horse not responding to leg aid.)



  13. #13
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    I'm going to suggest you lose the western bridle for the go forward work and instead keep a soft (or no) bit in his mouth. You can't boot him forward and then catch him with a harsher than normal bit and expect him to learn to keep going forward. That will lead to a dead mouth to go with your dead-sided horse.

    As others have said, you should not punish him (by catching in the mouth) for responding correctly (going forward) to your leg aids. It is human nature to want to grab the reins when the horse jerks forward because you booted him, but resist the urge. Start in a halter if you need to.


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  14. #14
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    Good point, we can't get everything at once. Use very light contact, and when you boot him forward and he finally responds, don't try to "correct" him if it's too exuberant, or if he's on the wrong lead etc. Just let him go a few strides, praise him for forward response, then settle him in to a more even pace or direction.

    Keep the schooling sessions of retraining for forward short followed by nice relaxing hacks to it has a nice sense memory for the horse. Too often we are quick to correct but slow to praise or reward.

    As a rider, I had to work on a light but steady contact and keeping my seat lighter as well. There is a tendency to "sit heavy" in dressage and that worked against my horse's sensitive back, a lighter seat with more weight distributed three points instead of just seatbones and down along thighs helped keep my seat effective yet "lighter" feeling (and more comfy for me)

    This is your chance to change things so don't be afraid to experiment a bit and see what works. Adding a cluck or kiss in initial training can help too. The point is, to get results and a change and each horse/rider combination is a bit different.



  15. #15
    Samotis is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    I always start on a loose rein.

    After we have been going for a while then I will ask for contact.

    The western bridle was a plain sweet mouth snaffle, it just had an extra rope to use if he didn't go forward which seemed to work better then a crop.

    His bit now is a rubber snaffle.

    Like I said, I blame myself for always begging him to go when he was young and now he is not sensitive at all to the aids. Mover all he is not sensitive to anything.

    So, I am just trying to work on getting a little more forward out of him the right way.

    Thanks for all the advice, I will be working on this!



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    Then for G-d's sake, let go of his face!
    If he's never learned forward in the first place, trying to hold him in a false frame will only make things worse.
    Yup. Go back to the training scale... "Rhythm - with energy and tempo" is step #1, the foundation of EVERYTHING. Connection is a couple of steps up. You say you didn't do things right in his early training, but it sounds like you don't want to go back and fix it, which is what you really need to do. He's only 5... if you go back and establish forward now, it will be totally 100% worth it for the rest of his life. It shouldn't take that long either; you just have to be insistent and consistent, all the time.
    "Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle,
    but put me in summer and I'll be a... happy snowman!!!"

    Trolls be trollin'! -DH


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  17. #17
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    I agree with J-Lu. Get out of the arena and breeze him as much as possible. I would also review diet and fitness. If he's fit and just lazy then ask for a response. If it's not immediate then demand with a quick whop on the butt with a crop. Be prepared for a lunge forward. Just make sure you are not giving conflicting cues. JMHO
    "I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted". - Anonymous



  18. #18
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    I have also had the issue of slowing around turns, rather than being able to add pace in the turns. What has worked for me was working on developing forward and building strength.

    I developed forward outside the ring where there is more room to go forward. I could also keep turns minimal or big and sweeping at first to reinforce forward in the turns. If you have hills, which I do not, use them for strength training, too!

    Inside the ring, I have found that cavelletti, good quality transitions - particularly canter-walk, and a lot of shoulder in/ circles to encourage the inside hind to step under through the turns and maintain suppleness, has helped.



  19. #19
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    There is one line in the original post that might explain a lot. "Trying to keep him bridled." You can't put a horse on strong contact, much less "up in the bridle", if he is not going Forward. Forward is first and foremost.

    Even the most forward horses lose some forward in the arena. Use hacks to get him forward and fit. When you do school work, keep changing gaits and directions frequently. Don't get stuck on the wall ,or in circles.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.


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  20. #20
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    OP, I think your horse just isn't broke to your leg. In this case, Brionesrider has the best advice. I'd get a "yes ma'am! Going now, ma'am!" type of response to my leg before I worried about a frame and the bit.

    Start at the walk and work up to the same promptness at the canter. If you don't have promptness (both forward and laterally) at the lower gaits, you assuredly won't have them at the higher gaits. Also, it's easier/safer to give that big smack when you are going slower. Just be sure to not punish a big gallop!

    As far as your going to the right problem: To me that always means a weaker hind leg on that side. So spent 60-70% of your ride working correctly to the right. Don't worry about the problem at the canter for now. Do more work to the right, and lateral work that strengthens the right hind leg. I think the reason your horse is falling out of the canter going to the right or leaning on your leg is 40% a training problem and 60% physical weakness. You have to fix both.
    The armchair saddler
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