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Good exercises to lighten up front end?

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  • Good exercises to lighten up front end?

    My horse is a little heavy on the front end, not too bad, but definitely can use some improvement. He is ridden as a hunter, and has a pretty level topline, not uphill or downhill. I want to get him more engaged from behind and not so strung out. He tends to be a little on the lazy side, but he needs to get his rear end underneath and engaged more....

    What are some really good exercises to accomplish this?

    Thanks Yall.

  • #2
    Dressage work. Definitely. lol

    You ask a loaded question because I could write a volume. Why not take a dressage lesson with someone?

    Without being able to get with you and teach you, I would say 1. take a dressage lesson and repeat what you say above to the instructor. then 2. do you know how to do a proper half halt? If your horse is moving forward and tracking under as a good hunter should be, then he should be getting his rear end underneathe. So I would do some half halts and spiral (you know leg yield a presume) your circles and get the horse stepping more under him. He should be moving forward enough at the very least is in front of your leg and ready for any transition. So work on that - if your horse is working moe forward and tracking under, the horse will lighten up because croup lower = shoulders higher....

    Also, when I am working with a horse built by God to be a bit heavier in front, I work on a 20-15 meter circle and then top the circle with a figure 8 10 meter circle and then go back to that 20 meter circle. I use the 15 meter to the 10 meter if the horse is a small horse or pony. The snowman circle will elevate the horse some too because it engages the hind. But beware, a 10 meter circle is not easy for a horse at first....

    so: get your horse forward and tracking under (leg leg and make sure you are not posting fast to do it - its not faster - its more forward with bigger steps)
    and half halt, transition practice, do the circle work
    take a dressage lesson

    And let us know where you are then! GOOD LUCK!

    Comment


    • #3
      Second what LaraNSpeedy posted: dressage lessons!!!

      I'm assuming by your description (ridden as a hunter) that your horse has a decent level of fitness and is in regular work? Jumping really helps to strengthen the hind end, as does also pole and cavelleti work and hill work. If he's got sufficient strength in his hind end ("pushing power") then you can start working on "carrying power", which requires abdominals. Lateral work (SI, leg yields, spiraling in and out, etc), transitions (within, using half-halts, and between gaits) and circular patterns such as LaraNSpeedy described all help develop carrying power. The goal is to use exercises and patterns that naturally encourage the horse to step beneath itself (such as a horse must do on a circle if they are sufficiently balanced with bend) - inside leg to outside rein balances the horse and has them moving correctly, at which point you can increasingly and progressively ask for more via your aids and progressive patterns.

      Did I mention (classical) dressage lessons??
      ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
      ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

      Comment


      • #4
        An easy place to start is with halts. Start with walk-halt-walk. The horse should respond immediately to both your whoa aid and your walk aid. The walk should be energetic. After that go to trot-halt-trot, no walk steps. Same goals. From there- you can go on to half-halts, transitions within gaits, and lateral work that will engage the hind end further.

        Comment


        • #5
          here is a simple place to start:halt-walk-trot transitions on a 20m circle (both directions, obviously). if he's heavy on the forehand, i'm guessing he'll drift to the inside when you transition down, so on the downward transition, leg yield him out.

          alternate transitions, like trot-halt, halt-trot, but don't lose the energy by forcing him to totally stop. this is the imagery my trainer used to explain this: his energy is like marbles rolling end-to-end in a shoe box, when you ask for the halt, you don't want all the energy to roll to the back of the box and sit there(aka, lose it with the halt) and then have to waste time getting the energy back rolling. hopefully that isn't too confusing!

          Comment


          • #6
            Basic transitions are good, even transitions within each gait (i.e. lengthen and compress, but use your body to lengthen and compress, not your hand). Also, rein back to walk, rein back to trot to develop engagement/pushing power from behind.
            Kim
            'Like' my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Calla...946873?sk=wall

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Callaway View Post
              Also, rein back to walk, rein back to trot to develop engagement/pushing power from behind.
              this is what I do with horses that already understand how to work and are very proficient at backing up.

              Rein back is really hard and I think using it with transitions to engage the butt can be tough on a youngster or a horse who doesn't understand how to engage the reverse gait properly.

              I have two "off breeds" that I ride now and I use rein back with both of them. It works really great.
              The best trot we get out of the paint cow horse is either from a rein back or a full side pass then trot forward.


              *Also, it's important to never use rein back as a punishment.
              http://kaboomeventing.com/
              http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
              Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

              Comment


              • #8
                Transitions and lots of them. Train with a pro who truly understands connection and self carriage.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Transitions, I love shoulder-in and when your horse is advanced enough, large working pirouettes work too! Basically anything that gets their hind end working.

                  If your horse is just starting out, make sure you introduce everything gradually and give frequent breaks.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Taking lessons from a good dressage trainer is a great place to start. Aside from that, the following will help:

                    1. Transitions. Transitions. Transitions. Demand that they are prompt, active, and light. Remember that if they are poorly executed, or if your horse isn't engaged, they will do nothing to help you.

                    2. Ride your corners. Many dressage riders neglect this, but properly ridden corners will bend, rebalance, and collect your horse. You should be riding deeply into the corners of the arena in all gaits. As an extension of this, practice 10m circles at trot and canter. If you are not currently riding circles this size then work towards them. Make sure your horse is bending through his entire body.

                    3. Shoulder-in. Begin with riding shoulder-fore out of the arena corner. At first your horse may only give you a few steps before losing balance, at which point you should perform a 10 m circle and continue. Shoulder-in is much more effective at engaging and strengthening a horse than is leg-yielding.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Where are you looking with your eyes? If you are looking down to the horses ears/poll you may be driving your horse's forehand into the ground.
                      A horse recently taught me that I had to look up with my eyes a little if I wanted to get off her forehand. After months of struggling with her I finally found out that all I had to do was look UP (toward the lower branches of nearby oak trees). This is on top of keeping my shoulders back and my face vertical. If I look straight ahead at my eye level this horse gave me problems, but, with my face vertical, when I look up around 10 degrees she started moving correctly.
                      As a side benefit my riding teacher told me today that I was finally getting erect and that the good effects of my eyes up reached all the way down to my lower leg and heels.
                      By all means do transitions, this is in addition to that.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks for all the tips, I think they will help a bunch. My boy is not a greenie and is in full work so I dont think he will have too much problem with the smaller circles.

                        I just have to vent a little about the "holes" in my horse, that are unrecognized by my trainer. I need to work on foundation type things, bending flexing and transitions, collection, lengthenings. He can jump, that is something he does naturally and athletically, so WHY do so many trainers just pound away at the jumping stuff when 80% of the trip between fences is shyte.

                        Look at how hunters go around the ring and you see heavy on the forehand, awful changes in the corners, I mean can you be any more obvious about changes when you see 99% of riders twisting and leaning out? The horse jumps way out of the bridle. GAG.

                        Look at them go around the corners and you see horses with NO bend at all, actually most are bent to the outside and dumping their shoulders into the middle. They are like stiff boards from head to tail. And no one seems bothered by this? I dont get it ........


                        I am really trying to get the holes worked out but I may need to go over to the dark side and take some lessons with a dressage coach.... It will only make my hunter just that much better I think.

                        Notice how i am posting this in the dressage section, you guys get it!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Starte with a LOT of trot/halt where rider uses leg when asking for halt to ensure hind legs are under horse, not out behind. Until I started working on these with my uphill mare I never realized what I was missing with the older mare who is built like your horse.

                          Once I figured out what was wrong I went back to older mare and this simple exercise, when done CORRECTLY, gets them to take more weight behind lightening the front end. (The first steps of collection).
                          Now in Kentucky

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Working with a dressage trainer will help some BUT finding a good jumping trainer that UNDERSTANDS the mechanics of what is needed BETWEEN the fences will help even more in your situation. That is what I try to do, is apply correct flatwork/dressage principles to the jumping arena. Some of what you need is RESPONSIVENESS as well as lightness. Lateral work and lengthning, shortening stride within gaits are very good exercises.
                            www.shawneeacres.net

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Noms View Post
                              Thanks for all the tips, I think they will help a bunch. My boy is not a greenie and is in full work so I dont think he will have too much problem with the smaller circles.

                              I just have to vent a little about the "holes" in my horse, that are unrecognized by my trainer. I need to work on foundation type things, bending flexing and transitions, collection, lengthenings. He can jump, that is something he does naturally and athletically, so WHY do so many trainers just pound away at the jumping stuff when 80% of the trip between fences is shyte.

                              Look at how hunters go around the ring and you see heavy on the forehand, awful changes in the corners, I mean can you be any more obvious about changes when you see 99% of riders twisting and leaning out? The horse jumps way out of the bridle. GAG.

                              Look at them go around the corners and you see horses with NO bend at all, actually most are bent to the outside and dumping their shoulders into the middle. They are like stiff boards from head to tail. And no one seems bothered by this? I dont get it ........


                              I am really trying to get the holes worked out but I may need to go over to the dark side and take some lessons with a dressage coach.... It will only make my hunter just that much better I think.

                              Notice how i am posting this in the dressage section, you guys get it!
                              If more hunters thought like you, the entire discipline would be bettered. imho of course.
                              you sure you aren't secretly a dressage rider waiting to come out of the closet?
                              www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                              chaque pas est fait ensemble

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