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Exercises to get a horse off the forehand on the trail

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  • Exercises to get a horse off the forehand on the trail

    I have a stock type QH mare who is built downhill and naturally is heavy on the forehand because of her conformation. Honestly, she is built like a tank. She has been a pretty nice trail horse other than she just plows her front end into the ground if you let her go on a loose rein. Obviously going down hills is the worst. I can get her to come together and lift herself up IF I establish contact and push her into it - however this gets old for both of us especially if we are on a longer ride. I have been working on increasing her fitness and in the arena, she is very capable of getting off the forehand for an hour or more at a time (but again with contact).

    I do work with her in the arena and on the trail - lots of transitions (w/t/c), lots of yields off my leg, circles that kind of thing but she has to have rein contact to convince her that she can in fact use her hind end. I also do some in hand work with her to increase her strength and fitness.

    I know some of my problems do stem from her conformation. If you watch her move in the pasture - she naturally is just heavy on the front end. When I bought her, she was 3 and I was somewhat hoping she would grow out of some of it but now she is 8 and well, she didn't. (I bought her because she has a great brain, is willing, sweet and solid on the trail (even at 3) even though she didn't have the best conformation I had ever seen) She is the horse I pull out when I want an easy no thrills type ride.

  • #2
    I have a downhill TBxQH who has learned to carry himself uphill and balanced as his default carriage. He will sometimes drop down, but it is usually when he is getting tired or wanting to gallop.

    It took years of concentrated, focused work to get him to that point.

    It is possible, it is work. One thing you can do is pick her up, get her working in the balance you want and relax - don't hold her there. She will drop on her forehand at which point you repeat the picking up. Doing a bit of shoulder in can help reestablish the carriage you want, plus it's extra work for her which makes going forward in the desired balance easier, and is incentive to stay in that balance as she works even harder when she drops on her forehand.

    Make sure you are not dropping her when you relax, just relax the aids. And be aware of her little signs of fatigue as you don't want to make her sore. Keep mixing it up and changing gaits and remind her what you want.