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How To get him light in Front?

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  • How To get him light in Front?

    I'm working on training my TB in Dressage and Jumpers. We're JUST starting and are getting monthly lessons from a fabulous trainer to assess our progress. She's said that we need to work on being light on the forehand, working from behind and building a good working trot.

    My TB has a low head set and is heavy on the hands and on the forehand. I'm using a full cheek slow twist snaffle on him. He had a smooth Dee and just hung like crazy. Then he was in a full cheek corkscrew and he was tossing his head like crazy.

    What kind of exercises can I do to get his head up a little and light on the front end?

    Any input would be appreciated.

    here's his trot:




    Here's his canter:






    Thanks!!
    Last edited by Equestryn; Sep. 25, 2009, 11:52 AM. Reason: fixing links
    Iron Star Equestrian

    Heels Down, Eyes Up, Plan Ahead

  • #2
    I hate to say it.

    Dressage lessons. It's a general thing, changes in position, aids, length of rein, contact, response to reins, suppling, building strength in the back and hind quarters, getting the hind quarter more under the horse, etc.

    (runs)

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Okay. I was just curious as to whether there were specific exercises that I can practice between lessons.

      Thanks slc2. I appreciate it!
      Iron Star Equestrian

      Heels Down, Eyes Up, Plan Ahead

      Comment


      • #4
        The best thing you can do to get your horse ready for his new dressage lessons is get him paying attention. Every time you put your leg on- he has to respond. If he doesn't, tap him with your whip or kick him up with both legs. Then try again with a light aid. Once he's paying attention to your aids, you will have an easier time learning all of the things in your dressage lessons that will help you change his balance.

        Also, trotting forward through cavaletti and doing lots of transitions can never hurt in this kind of situation. If its possible, try to get more frequent lessons for the first month or two. Once you've got some basics down it will be eaiser for you to work on your own for the month between lessons without getting off track.

        Comment


        • #5
          if you know how to school/train them... renvers and travers is great for gettin a horse off the front end.
          Carol and Princess Dewi

          **~Doccer'sDressage~**

          Comment


          • #6
            read this link simular problem which in truth is a common problem
            http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=224832

            and read this link and read all of page 1 and all links
            http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=178116
            and while your at it read the mouthing and bitting thread by thomas 1 as its all relevent

            Comment


            • #7
              latteral work, hills, cavaletti, and open up your shoulders and let go of that thigh. Cant say for certain but you may find your horse is lighter on the front end if you buy an enell bra. I know that posture all too well, and for me it vanished when I threw my 32E's in an enell. Your horse cannot move up and in front of your leg if you are physically blocking him with your boobs and your thighs.
              www.destinationconsensusequus.com
              chaque pas est fait ensemble

              Comment


              • #8
                Loosen your reins so he has to seek the contact.
                Sit down and back, not leaning forward as you are at canter.
                Impulsion, impulsion impulsion and open the door (see first line).
                Jeanie
                RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

                Comment


                • #9
                  A lot of frequent walk-trot-walk transitions. Trot three steps, walk two steps, trot three steps, repeat. When you ask him to walk, don't pull the reins, bring your own weight back, open your elbows a little bit, then drop your heels.

                  Then a lot of shoulder-ins and haunches-ins at walk, and later at trot. When you are good at straight line along the walls, start to do it at circle, then start to use haunches in to make the circles smaller, and shoulder in to make circles bigger. When you are really good at this, start shoulder-in entwick and haunches-in entwichs but this will be way down the road.

                  And, have patience and faith. It is natural for them to be on the forehand a little bit until they are stronger and can carry more of the weight on the hind ends (use their hind end to carry instead of push).

                  In the meanwhile, build up your core so you can carry yourself and be able to bring your own weight back without relying on the reins.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                    A lot of frequent walk-trot-walk transitions. Trot three steps, walk two steps, trot three steps, repeat. When you ask him to walk, don't pull the reins, bring your own weight back, open your elbows a little bit, then drop your heels.
                    Add some rein-back to this.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      When you ask him to halt, either you need to look or have someone on the ground tell you where his hind feet are. Ultimately, you need to start asking him to step far under in his halts. And square with his hindfeet, too. It will be awkward for both of you because it is a balance issue, don't worry about his front end it will correct itself in time. All his transitions need to come from hocks under. All gaits within gaits need to be hocks under. And it will need to be reinforced DAILY!!!
                      You may need to be leaning behind the vertical with your upper body to help him use his hind end --make it easier for him to lighten the front. You need to feel like you are in a recliner and actually you will be more correct in your upper body. And from a previous post, it appears that you are well endowed, sitting behind the vertical will help you, too. If you have access to an arena with mirrors that is such great training aid otherwise get yourself video-ed.

                      Also helps to ask for gaits or direction changes(lateral work)with with your legs(ankles & heels), then whip, voice and reins last. Reins, last, for direction changes and to remind horse that he can not lean on your hands and you can not lean on his mouth. Get you core strength stronger that will help.
                      Lunging lessons will help your balance and find your seat & core.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        No to rein back. This is step 6. She needs to start at step 1.

                        No to renvers or travers. These are advanced moves.

                        Your coach said it - work from behind and building a good working trot.

                        What is a working walk, working trot, or working canter?

                        It is a gait that is forward with impulsion, powered from behind. NOT FASTER. The hind legs start to shift underneath the horse and the body begins to tilt slightly back onto his haunches and his shoulders lift up. He will not be able to do this for very long. Maybe a few strides at a time. It takes considerable strength to do this. But do this, he must, as it is the basic building block to everything you need to perform dressage. Frankly, it is the basic building block to everything you need to jump a horse too. Even a jumper, must be THROUGH FROM BEHIND, light on the forehand with forward impulsion.

                        How do you get this? Sart with transitions to get him forward off your leg. Trot to walk, back to trot to walk... always with leg on asking for forwardness through those transitions. Ironically, the "downward" transitions are very poorly named, because they are technically FORWARD INTO WALK. FORWARD INTO HALT. They come through developing balance through circles, half-circles and serpentines. Then you combine the transitions with the circles, half-circles and serpentines. You build physical strength. He learns to move off your leg. When he responds readily to your leg and starts drawing his hind legs under himself for a few steps at a time, he is ready to do this body position via the leg yield. Even in the leg yield, he must draw his hind end under himself and carry himself forward. When you notice he is drawing his hind legs a little underneath himself, all while maintaining relaxation and a steady light contact with your hand, THEN he is ready for impulsion.

                        A horse cannot work from behind if his behind isn't strong enough to carry the motor. So remember to give him time to develop this sort of musculature and don't over-do it so that he becomes tired. If he gets tired, he'll start evading the bit and evading the movement and then you're working the wrong muscles.

                        So, you the rider, sit correct, tall in the saddle, correct position of legs. Ask for light contact. Don't let him HOLD YOU. He must learn to carry himself. You cannot carry him. Then you ask for impulsion to the trot. You know, rev the engine without going faster by applying your leg whilst simultaneously half-halting lightly. He might try to go faster so you need to half-halt and bring him back. It's okay, because it means he is thinking and trying things based on what he currently knows. Ask him again and this time, he might half step to canter or make like a passage. This is a good boy! He is THINKING in the right direction - which is upwards and forwards! He's trying to figure out this strange new thing called impulsion. Half-halt him back to an active trot and rev the engine again. Let him achieve the impulsion through making mistakes. When the light bulb goes off, you'll know. But remember, he won't be able to hold it for very long. His muscles will not be strong enough. Build this up over time. Repeat the same steps at the canter. Close your legs while half-halt your hands lightly and rev the engine. He might go a bit sideways - this means you're squishing him a bit too much into a box and he has nowhere to go so relax your elbows a bit more and try again. Lighten your pelvis up from the saddle ever so slightly, and you will start to feel a lift of his spine into the saddle. This is everything happening in the correct way. Encourage him! Then, you'll feel a couple steps where his bum seems to sink an inch and his shoulders grow upwards - encourage him, yah, yah, yah, good boy, good boy... and he'll try more and harder for a few more steps. And then he'll get tired and flop flat. That's fine. Let him walk and rest. Good pat on the neck. Good Boy! During the rest, he'll be thinking. Over the next few weeks, continue these exercises and start blending them into coinciding with transitions. When he's getting fairly consistent with his understanding, start attempting it at a walk. But not too much at the walk. Mostly at the trot and as he gets stronger, the canter. Only a little bit at walk.

                        Just remember, at the first, he will speed up because he doesn't understand yet the difference between speed and impulsion. That's okay. Time and practice and working out the communication.

                        It takes time, energy, and very hard work for the horse. But you persist with patience.

                        One note: If your horse tends to be built naturally somewhat downhill, these exercises are considerably harder for the horse to accomplish and you must be more patient as he learns how to cope with this strange, new way of going.

                        It takes years to build a "grand prix look". But it all starts here. Even if you never get to Grand Prix. This is the absolutely, the MOST BASIC step, the foundation of all training. If you don't get this going right, you don't get going anywhere right.

                        Just teaching your horse the difference between impulsion and speed is required before your horse can even begin to learn how to come through from behind, forward off the leg, lightly, rounded over the back and into contact.

                        Wow. Read that sentence again... it's a lot of training steps and energy to get all of those things accomplished in such a way that it is happening simultaneously.


                        Rhythm

                        Suppleness

                        Contact

                        Impulsion

                        Straightness

                        Collection


                        So, if you horse has the first 3 steps, then he can try this impulsion thing. But don't start it unless he has those first three things in place first. Otherwise, you're going end up needing to backtrack and it will take twice as long as it would have, had you followed the steps correctly in the first place.

                        So you wonder why I talk about impulsion when you asked about making him lighter on the forehand? Because that is what impulsion is. When the bum drives the motor, it is underneath him, which automatically lifts his shoulder and forehand. See how easy it was? You didn't have to do anything! Just ask him to turn on his motor!

                        Collection is the extreme of all of the above. It is the epitomy of impulsion at its finest hour.

                        Dressage is all about communication. The more keen and acute your communication is built up with your horse, the more exciting it gets because it all builds from there. This is a language that you develop between yourself and your horse. The horse is a master at learning communication. This is why all breeds of horses benefit so proficiently from dressage, no matter what sport they're final purpose is intended for.
                        Have fun!!!
                        Last edited by rodawn; Sep. 25, 2009, 08:23 PM. Reason: typos!
                        Practice! Patience! Persistence!
                        http://www.mariposasporthorses.com/
                        https://www.facebook.com/MariposaSportHorses/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rodawn View Post
                          No to rein back. This is step 6. She needs to start at step 1.

                          No to renvers or travers. These are advanced moves.

                          Your coach said it - work from behind and building a good working trot.

                          What is a working walk, working trot, or working canter?

                          It is a gait that is forward with impulsion, powered from behind. NOT FASTER. The hind legs start to shift underneath the horse and the body begins to tilt slightly back onto his haunches and his shoulders lift up. He will not be able to do this for very long. Maybe a few strides at a time. It takes considerable strength to do this. But do this, he must, as it is the basic building block to everything you need to perform dressage. Frankly, it is the basic building block to everything you need to jump a horse too. Even a jumper, must be THROUGH FROM BEHIND, light on the forehand with forward impulsion.

                          How do you get this? Sart with transitions to get him forward off your leg. Trot to walk, back to trot to walk... always with leg on asking for forwardness through those transitions. Ironically, the "downward" transitions are very poorly named, because they are technically FORWARD INTO WALK. FORWARD INTO HALT. They come through developing balance through circles, half-circles and serpentines. Then you combine the transitions with the circles, half-circles and serpentines. You build physical strength. He learns to move off your leg. When he responds readily to your leg and starts drawing his hind legs under himself for a few steps at a time, he is ready to do this body position via the leg yield. Even in the leg yield, he must draw his hind end under himself and carry himself forward. When you notice he is drawing his hind legs a little underneath himself, all while maintaining relaxation and a steady light contact with your hand, THEN he is ready for impulsion.

                          A horse cannot work from behind if his behind isn't strong enough to carry the motor. So remember to give him time to develop this sort of musculature and don't over-do it so that he becomes tired. If he gets tired, he'll start evading the bit and evading the movement and then you're working the wrong muscles.

                          So, you the rider, sit correct, tall in the saddle, correct position of legs. Ask for light contact. Don't let him HOLD YOU. He must learn to carry himself. You cannot carry him. Then you ask for impulsion to the trot. You know, rev the engine without going faster by applying your leg whilst simultaneously half-halting lightly. He might try to go faster so you need to half-halt and bring him back. It's okay, because it means he is thinking and trying things based on what he currently knows. Ask him again and this time, he might half step to canter or make like a passage. This is a good boy! He is THINKING in the right direction - which is upwards and forwards! He's trying to figure out this strange new thing called impulsion. Half-halt him back to an active trot and rev the engine again. Let him achieve the impulsion through making mistakes. When the light bulb goes off, you'll know. But remember, he won't be able to hold it for very long. His muscles will not be strong enough. Build this up over time. Repeat the same steps at the canter. Close your legs while half-halt your hands lightly and rev the engine. He might go a bit sideways - this means you're squishing him a bit too much into a box and he has nowhere to go so relax your elbows a bit more and try again. Lighten your pelvis up from the saddle ever so slightly, and you will start to feel a lift of his spine into the saddle. This is everything happening in the correct way. Encourage him! Then, you'll feel a couple steps where his bum seems to sink an inch and his shoulders grow upwards - encourage him, yah, yah, yah, good boy, good boy... and he'll try more and harder for a few more steps. And then he'll get tired and flop flat. That's fine. Let him walk and rest. Good pat on the neck. Good Boy! During the rest, he'll be thinking. Over the next few weeks, continue these exercises and start blending them into coinciding with transitions. When he's getting fairly consistent with his understanding, start attempting it at a walk. But not too much at the walk. Mostly at the trot and as he gets stronger, the canter. Only a little bit at walk.

                          Just remember, at the first, he will speed up because he doesn't understand yet the difference between speed and impulsion. That's okay. Time and practice and working out the communication.

                          It takes time, energy, and very hard work for the horse. But you persist with patience.

                          One note: If your horse tends to be built naturally somewhat downhill, these exercises are considerably harder for the horse to accomplish and you must be more patient as he learns how to cope with this strange, new way of going.

                          It takes years to build a "grand prix look". But it all starts here. Even if you never get to Grand Prix. This is the absolutely, the MOST BASIC step, the foundation of all training. If you don't get this going right, you don't get going anywhere right.

                          Just teaching your horse the difference between impulsion and speed is required before your horse can even begin to learn how to come through from behind, forward off the leg, lightly, rounded over the back and into contact.

                          Wow. Read that sentence again... it's a lot of training steps and energy to get all of those things accomplished in such a way that it is happening simultaneously.


                          Rhythm

                          Suppleness

                          Contact

                          Impulsion

                          Straightness

                          Collection


                          So, if you horse has the first 3 steps, then he can try this impulsion thing. But don't start it unless he has those first three things in place first. Otherwise, you're going end up needing to backtrack and it will take twice as long as it would have, had you followed the steps correctly in the first place.

                          So you wonder why I talk about impulsion when you asked about making him lighter on the forehand? Because that is what impulsion is. When the bum drives the motor, it is underneath him, which automatically lifts his shoulder and forehand. See how easy it was? You didn't have to do anything! Just ask him to turn on his motor!

                          Collection is the extreme of all of the above. It is the epitomy of impulsion at its finest hour.

                          Dressage is all about communication. The more keen and acute your communication is built up with your horse, the more exciting it gets because it all builds from there. This is a language that you develop between yourself and your horse. The horse is a master at learning communication. This is why all breeds of horses benefit so proficiently from dressage, no matter what sport they're final purpose is intended for.
                          Have fun!!!

                          excellent post-- say it better than i mind you not great with words
                          op be wise and listen

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Everything I would say has been said. (Except my usual broken record of 'Inside leg, inside leg, inside leg'). However, looking at your pictures, I noticed you're doing something that isn't helping...looking too far in in your turns. In the trot picture, you're also looking down.

                            Look where you are going, NOT to the inside of the circle and absolutely do not look down. It's an easy trap to look at the horse's head to see if it's 'in the right place', but looking down shifts your center of gravity forward. It's enough *on its own* to make it harder for your horse to get off his forehand. (It's also one of my bad habits, so I tend to notice it).
                            Manes And Tales

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Getting him light in front

                              Great posts. My initial thought when seeing the photos reminded me of something my coach told me, and I continue to recall this, especially when I see Harry's left ear start to twitter and lay down against his poll. (Right ear stays forward, left one lays back). I've learned this is his 'tired' point. We then come back to where he is most comfortable that day. It used to happen daily and after 15 20 min. Now it's maybe once every few months.

                              Sometimes it's to stretch down at walk or trot for a circle or so, then back up again to a more working frame. Each horse conditions and gets fit differently and there is never a time frame for this. Consistent work on the pyramid and knowing when to advance (your trainer will know, your horse will know, and you will know).

                              Back to the photo of his trot. Perhaps right now at this stage this is his comfort level. This is maybe all that he can manage - at this stage. It is a journey, and it can take time, but you'll have a healthier, fitter horse that is happy and you will be happy that you put the basics on him and didn't rush through because it can be like watching grass grow in the Winter.

                              We spent almost two years at the walk, working, free, counted, medium, moving him over a few steps and then straight, elevated cavaletti's at the walk, little logs at the walk. Eventually we were able to get him balanced and in good condition and then could progress to trot work. It made it so much easier for both of us, especially for him. (There were extenuating circumstances this horse was worked in this particular way).

                              Take your time, listen to your horse and his body, and listen to your trainer. There are no short cuts so relax and enjoy the education.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                rodawn - fabulous, and thanks!!!

                                I will also add (humbly, after some truly fabulous posts!) - "Self Carriage Begins on the Ground." This is my mantra. I was always on my forehand, when we came out of the pasture, when I'd walk him over to the mounting block, wherever we went. Now I consistently ask for lightness as we walk, and I make myself do the same thing.

                                It takes strength to build that hind end, and goodness knows they don't come with QH butts straight off the track.
                                www.specialhorses.org
                                a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  rodawn, I clicked on your profile...your picture explains why you have a picture of you in a shadbelly on your horse, and I have a "face shot" of myself and my horse, not in the saddle....
                                  www.specialhorses.org
                                  a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Not sure if you really want to turn your horse in to a dressage horse and school up the levels to second and third level where the learning of 'carrying' really starts, or if you just want to have a hunter that looks elegant and performs well in the hunter ring.

                                    A hunter travels in a posture that sort of looks like a lower level dressage horse in a way - his neck and head are carried low, and he moves forward in a flowing, smooth way, ideally, looking easy to ride and as if he's not fighting the bridle or pulling further downwards. But he isn't ridden like a dressage horse. So I'm not sure if the kind of lightening you want really is going to come from a real classical kind of dressage schooling up the levels.

                                    I guess it really depends on what you want. A hunter trainer can show you how hunt-seat trainers work on making a horse look light in the hunter sense, which instead of 'rocked back on the hind quarter like a 3rd level dressage horse, up in the bridle and connected' with his hind legs brought further forward, up under his body (more like say, a show jumper might), is more a very elegant, smooth performance that doesn't involve a lot of obvious motion or effort on the rider's part, but still stays in that lower head and neck posture.

                                    Your horse looks like he's naturally a little bit heavy on the front, so he might need a special kind of schooling hunter trainers don't usually do with horses. I'm not really sure if sitting in a complete dressage position, instead of a forward seat, is really the answer, unless you want to switch from hunters to dressage, ditto with a lot of the suggestions - fine for a dressage horse. It might be possible to adjust the rider position SOME and stay in the hunter world. He doesn't have a lot of roundness to his topline, but again, that isn't desirable in the hunters. I really don't know after so many years away from hunters, but I'm guessing the main thing with hunters is to just get them striding along with their hind leg being strong and reaching and landing more forward than they naturally do, which helps to balance them and help them be lighter.

                                    In dressage, the first stage of training for lightness is establishing the dressage basics - contact, rhythm, activity, basic obedience. Without the contact and rhythm and basic obedience the later work isn't possible. Then as time goes on, more thrusting power is developed and the rider receives that energy in the hand and recycles it with half halts, so that the horse's hind quarters and back become more powerful so that he can later shift more of his weight onto his hind quarters. The rider works on keeping the horse appropriately straight so that he can 'deliver' - push energy to the bridle and thrust equally with both hind legs. As time goes on through half halts and transitions and more basic work, he learns not just to 'push' but also to 'carry' - to sit on his hind quarters a little bit, so a little of his weight is shifted from his front to his back end. The dressage horse is going to wind up at that point looking and being ridden very differently from a hunter.

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                                    • #19
                                      Great ideas posted here. I just wanted to add a couple of thoughts... first, do you know if your saddle fits him well? It needs to for him to be able to lift his back when he tries to use his hindquarters and get more through for you; if he feels any pinching or lack of room in the withers/spine, he'll have trouble AND if he manages to get lighter he will find it hard to stay there for long. I'm sure I'm stating the obvious for you, but just thought I'd mention this!

                                      I don't think you mentioned how fit he is at this point... ? Because if he is not very fit yet, he will not be able to travel correctly as you want him to for long... try to think of his progress in baby steps and do trot sets to increase his fitness and strength. It has taken some horses I've ridden 6 months to become fit enough to do what I'm asking of them. So, if he's not fit, patience is key . A note about hill work: if you're planning to incorporate hill work into his program, as another poster suggested, that is a good idea but I suggest not doing hills more than once or twice a week. It can reallly make a horse sore and sour, and you want a horse who likes his job - hills need to be approached judiciously (no drilling on hills, that's the worst IMO), and adequate rest is super important after hill work (my preference is a few days on the flat after doing hills), particularly with ones who don't yet have the muscle strength yet.
                                      "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

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                                      • #20
                                        Haven't read all the replies.

                                        Transitions. Lots of them. Cavaletti work as well. 20 mtr. circles...spiral, spiral outs. Lots of stretching in between.

                                        Bits don't have a thing to do with it. It all comes from building strength from behind...slowly developing strength over the back to get "carrying power" ,not putting the breaks on the front with a stronger bit.

                                        If you go that route you'll only get an inverted horse with a false frame.
                                        www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                                        "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                                        Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

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