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Exercises: To Get Horse Off Forehand

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  • Exercises: To Get Horse Off Forehand

    So I was hoping that some of you might have some exercises that I can work on with my new gelding to get him off the forehand some. I am sure that it is at least partially something that I am doing that is encouraging him to do this but it is especially noticeable at the canter and in the transitions up and down from the canter.

    I am having the dentist come out to check his teeth and I will be trying to get our local massage therapist out to work on him asap. So I have considered that there might be a physical situation that is causing this but he hasn't been off etc. and as I just bought him and he was ppe'd maybe 2 weeks ago I don't think that he has anything serious going on but rather just needs schooling. I should be getting a lesson in the next week or so and will probably try to get a "pro" ride put on him soon as well.

    Could my saddle be making him uncomfortable therefore causing some of this behavior? I am not a saddle fit expert and I haven't had a chance to have my saddle fitter look at him but as he is also the massage guy I will have that done at the same time. He doesn't seem to be back sore but I am trying to look at all of the factors. I am working to save up and get a custom saddle but I probably won't be able to until this summer at the earliest.

    So all of that being said what exercises can I work on with him to lighten him up? Obviously I am going to do transition work and in gait transitions with collection and extension but I thought maybe you guys might have some other stuff I could work on.

    Thanks in advance!
    Equestrian At Hart - A blog about adventures in bringing along a young TB mare and a 2016 Big Star filly

  • #2
    Make sure you are using leg.

    Trot poles
    Spiraling in/out
    Half halts (with leg!)
    Transitions
    Leg yielding
    Shoulder ins
    Working on a slightly hilly area
    Soften your hands when he softens

    Leg

    Comment


    • #3
      What I did to help my boy who is coming back into work. He was being really heavy on the forehand to the point of bucking (too much energy, not enough work yet haha).
      Really focusing on proper posture (even lifting the hands slightly), then asking for canter (from walk) making it a prompt canter transition (if not, walk, tickle with dressage whip, ask again). Making sure I do not pump with my body in the transition. Do 5-6 strides, walk. Repeat (prompt canter transition, really focusing on posture, it's ok if he gets on the underside of his neck at first, 5-6 strides, walk) and repeat. (Be aware of fatigue) Slowly ask for more strides at the canter before walking, but only if it stays uphill and light. You may get to a full circle, but then notice that you have to take a step back and go back to 5-6 strides, walk, for a couple times.
      This (and ensuring he is working as proper as possible in the walk and especially the trot, so he builds correct muscling, and thinks about having his butt under him) has been a huge help to my horse. It took probably 2 weeks where he was a bit stiff in the back and not wanting to give in it, (though still managed to build correct muscle, especially since his trot was still working well) then 5 or 6 days ago, bam, soft back and relaxing into the contact at the canter, staying very uphill.

      Comment


      • #4
        Agree with both posters OP.. as far as a custom saddle. I bought one for my hard to fit OTTB.. It's been a TRAINWRECK. Do your research (and stay away from Antares saddles.)

        Comment


        • #5
          My horse is built a little bit down hill, and is more comfortable on his forehand. We have spent a lot of time on our flatwork in the last year, and what really worked for us was a lot of moving forward with a lot of leg. We do a lot of serpentine work and spirals and the half-halt backed up by my leg is my friend. After a year, I have a very rideable buddy who gets me out of a lot of my mistakes. I did have to make a saddle change - I had an Antares that threw me forward, so downhill horse and downhill saddle makes it hard to get your balance back where it is supposed to be. I switched to a CWD that was built up in the front to accommodate my horse's conformation. That made all the difference in the world.
          My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
          ReRiders Clique

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by hasahorse View Post
            I had an Antares that threw me forward...
            See another vote against Antares (can you see that I am unhappy with them?)

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thank you all for the suggestions! I appreciate it.

              As for saddle shopping... I have heard bad things about anatres and cwd saddles. The only way that I think I would be able to swing a CWD is if it is used so I guess I would have them come out and fit him and tell me if they have any of the same tree etc? I wish I had 4-5k laying around but at the moment not so much. Right now I am riding in a Beval Devon and I feel like it might be causing some of the issues but again havent had the saddle fitter out so I cant say for sure. I am going to look around for other saddles that might work as well. I have just ridden in cwd and antares and liked both so that is/ was my starting point.

              Edited to add:
              I will probably call my local rep and talk about my options based on the brand I think I want to go with. I guess that I don't necessarily need to have a saddle made FOR him but I would like to make sure that I buy the best saddle for him. So make sure that I try the different models etc and make sure I end up with one that works well for both of us.
              Last edited by hequestrian; Feb. 24, 2012, 12:12 PM. Reason: added info
              Equestrian At Hart - A blog about adventures in bringing along a young TB mare and a 2016 Big Star filly

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by hequestrian View Post
                Thank you all for the suggestions! I appreciate it.

                As for saddle shopping... I have heard bad things about anatres and cwd saddles. The only way that I think I would be able to swing a CWD is if it is used so I guess I would have them come out and fit him and tell me if they have any of the same tree etc? I wish I had 4-5k laying around but at the moment not so much. Right now I am riding in a Beval Devon and I feel like it might be causing some of the issues but again havent had the saddle fitter out so I cant say for sure. I am going to look around for other saddles that might work as well. I have just ridden in cwd and antares and liked both so that is/ was my starting point.
                Why, if you don't have $4-5k lying around (for the record, I sure don't either), do you feel like you NEED to have a custom saddle? There are many off-the-rack saddles that might fit your horse, and maybe you could even find a nice high-quality used one. FWIW, I got my high-end saddle on eBay of all places!
                A good saddle fitter help you find out what brands/models will best fit your guy's back. Best of luck!
                Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

                Comment


                • #9
                  My OTTB came off the track with a toothpick for a neck.....and we knew his muscling would completely change with new work. I got a Collegiate Convertible Diploma so I could change the gullet as he changed. I am on my second change already! I look down now and see a nice thick neck and shoulder and its still changing and filling out with all the work folks have mentioned here (poles, hills, circles)

                  There was a thread a few weeks ago about some basic dressage being good for greenies and non-greenies that plan to be hunters. Dressage would help with the forehand issue a lot and also contribute to balance.
                  "I am still under the impression there is nothing alive quite so beautiful
                  as a thoroughbred horse."

                  -JOHN GALSWORTHY

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cleozowner View Post
                    Why, if you don't have $4-5k lying around (for the record, I sure don't either), do you feel like you NEED to have a custom saddle? There are many off-the-rack saddles that might fit your horse, and maybe you could even find a nice high-quality used one. FWIW, I got my high-end saddle on eBay of all places! A good saddle fitter help you find out what brands/models will best fit your guy's back. Best of luck!
                    I DID have 4-5K laying around, got a custom saddle, it never fit right, still doesn't fit right and I am fighting with the company almost a year later (and several chiro adjustments for my poor horsie)

                    Have your saddle fitter come out, give you recommendations, etc. If you TRUST the saddle fitter, you may be better off than going custom.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by cleozowner View Post
                      Why, if you don't have $4-5k lying around (for the record, I sure don't either), do you feel like you NEED to have a custom saddle? There are many off-the-rack saddles that might fit your horse, and maybe you could even find a nice high-quality used one. FWIW, I got my high-end saddle on eBay of all places!
                      A good saddle fitter help you find out what brands/models will best fit your guy's back. Best of luck!
                      I think that I should have phrased my statement a little differently. Also at the moment I don't have the money but as I said I am trying to save up and hopefully I will be able to sell my saddle and put that towards the purchase of the new saddle. I think that what I should have said (and forgive me as I am not familiar with the custom saddle business) was that I want to have a rep come out and tell me which model would work best. I have only ridden in one antares and one cwd and neither on my horse. I feel like there are definitely ways for that to happen. I know many people that have bought demos and even had their reps help them find used saddles. Thanks for the suggestion- I am constantly scouring ebay but I want to know exactly what I need for my guy before I just go buy something.

                      Originally posted by SaratogaTB View Post
                      My OTTB came off the track with a toothpick for a neck.....and we knew his muscling would completely change with new work. I got a Collegiate Convertible Diploma so I could change the gullet as he changed. I am on my second change already! I look down now and see a nice thick neck and shoulder and its still changing and filling out with all the work folks have mentioned here (poles, hills, circles)

                      There was a thread a few weeks ago about some basic dressage being good for greenies and non-greenies that plan to be hunters. Dressage would help with the forehand issue a lot and also contribute to balance.
                      Thanks! I will find the thread and look at it. And yeah my guy is only 5 and isn't filled out, muscled up etc so I will probably try to figure out either a pad or something to manage what I have now until I can get him a more forever saddle.

                      Originally posted by myalter1 View Post
                      I DID have 4-5K laying around, got a custom saddle, it never fit right, still doesn't fit right and I am fighting with the company almost a year later (and several chiro adjustments for my poor horsie)

                      Have your saddle fitter come out, give you recommendations, etc. If you TRUST the saddle fitter, you may be better off than going custom.
                      Good point. I have definitely heard plenty of horror stories in terms of custom saddles and people having issues. First step will definitely be having my local guy come out and look at him.

                      Thanks all for your suggestions and input.
                      Equestrian At Hart - A blog about adventures in bringing along a young TB mare and a 2016 Big Star filly

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Nick Karazissis has riders in his clinics do a neat and simple half-seat exercise to get horses (a) moving forward and (b) off the forehand.

                        Basically, it involves doing most of your flat work in a half-seat with a short-ish rein and fairly elevated hands (though NOT pulling back AT ALL - hands are forward and up). You trot around like this and use a lot of leg. Really get the horse trucking and in front of your leg (Nick repeats "forward, forward, forward" during this exercise). Then you go from a trot to a halt, and as you do, you sink back down into the saddle. Then you back up a few steps, then right back into the trot. You carry on like this for most of the trotting flatwork, sometimes backing after you halt and sometimes not backing after you halt (don't want to back all the time because you don't want them slamming it in reverse every time you halt). Similar for canter, but by the time you canter, your horse should already be fairly off the forehand from the trotting portion of the ride.

                        I may not be explaining that very well...

                        It works incredibly well. It seemed counterintuitive to me to use half-seat to help with a heavy on the forehand issue, but, oh my, SO HELPFUL. I think the real reason it works so well is that you have to really focus on FORWARD, and heaviness/being on the forehand is almost always a lack of forward and pushing properly from behind.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jetsmom View Post
                          Make sure you are using leg.

                          Trot poles
                          Spiraling in/out
                          Half halts (with leg!)
                          Transitions
                          Leg yielding
                          Shoulder ins
                          Working on a slightly hilly area
                          Soften your hands when he softens

                          Leg
                          ^This exactly! The worst thing you can do with a horse who gets on the forehand is to get into a pulling match or to just work on going straight in a straight line all the time. Getting them to bend and work off the leg laterally will get you the forward and respect for the leg you need to rock them off their forehand onto their butts.

                          Also, look at his fitness. He might not be strong enough behind to carry himself yet. Try lots of hillwork and trot/canter poles if that's the issue, it really helped my first horse.
                          Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                            Nick Karazissis has riders in his clinics do a neat and simple half-seat exercise to get horses (a) moving forward and (b) off the forehand.

                            Basically, it involves doing most of your flat work in a half-seat with a short-ish rein and fairly elevated hands (though NOT pulling back AT ALL - hands are forward and up). You trot around like this and use a lot of leg. Really get the horse trucking and in front of your leg (Nick repeats "forward, forward, forward" during this exercise). Then you go from a trot to a halt, and as you do, you sink back down into the saddle. Then you back up a few steps, then right back into the trot. You carry on like this for most of the trotting flatwork, sometimes backing after you halt and sometimes not backing after you halt (don't want to back all the time because you don't want them slamming it in reverse every time you halt). Similar for canter, but by the time you canter, your horse should already be fairly off the forehand from the trotting portion of the ride.

                            I may not be explaining that very well...

                            It works incredibly well. It seemed counterintuitive to me to use half-seat to help with a heavy on the forehand issue, but, oh my, SO HELPFUL. I think the real reason it works so well is that you have to really focus on FORWARD, and heaviness/being on the forehand is almost always a lack of forward and pushing properly from behind.

                            Makes sense to me. I will give that a go during our next ride. I appreciate you taking the time to share that with me.
                            Equestrian At Hart - A blog about adventures in bringing along a young TB mare and a 2016 Big Star filly

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Getting a horse off his forehand??

                              If you ever get a chance, clinic with Dorothy Morkis.....she is amazing!!!
                              "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

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