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heavy horses

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  • heavy horses

    My trainer frequently tells me that my horse is on his forehand. While I understand the difference between a horse who is on his forehand and one who is on his hind end, I'm having a lot of trouble getting him (and other horses for that matter) balanced.
    So, pretend that you just got on your horse and your getting ready to start working. What exactly do you do to get your horse put together, off his forehand, on the bit, etc?

  • #2
    First, look at his conformation. He may just be built heavier in front if not plain old downhill, if so it will be hard and he will never really get much lift in that forehand.

    Otherwise, transitions up and down. Work over ground poles in a grid to engage the hinny. Work up and down hills. Work on lengthening and shortening/extension and collection. AVOID tying the head down with draw reins, chambones or bungees-that just makes them dump on the forehand and move like they are peddling a bike behind. Also AVOID any gimmicks to lift the head as this MUST be generated from behind, you cannot force the head when no back end support exsists.

    In other words, dare I say it? Leg to hand and it's called Dressage. Tons of info out there on flatwork and that's where you need to go. Dressage- and it's no big majikal deal. Just alot of work.

    Your trainer should be telling you how to fix it, not just pointing out the problem. If they cannot adress this with you, you need another trainer.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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    • #3
      oy...I get harped on about this from my trainer too. Leg, leg and more leg while maintaining steady contact. You want to push the horse into your hand, making sure that your hand is there supporting them so they can't escape through the front. If you don't have the supporting hand, they will get unbalanced and strung out. In my head it makes sense and I know how its supposed to feel...its just the whole putting into practice that I often have issues with LOL!

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      • #4
        I've got a couple that worked with my eldest mare who is just 5 years old. If you have a trot grid set up, trot through them and then make a tight turn and go in between the poles and change directions, go over them the other direction and turn between them again and continue this. I found that it makes them think and the tight turns around an object gets them off of their front end. It may take a few times through, but as make the turns tighter and tighter after going through the poles and soon enough you'll feel their front end lighten right up.

        I also make sure (especially on horses that are heavy or youngsters that are fresh) change it up. No more than half way around an arena (if not less) before something changes (pace, direction, half turn, leg yield etc.) keep it fresh and that way your horse can't build the momentum to pull against you.
        Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
        Breeding Horses Today, for the Equestrian Sport of Tomorrow.
        Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.

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        • #5
          If you can bring in a dressage trainer for a few lessons now and then would be great for you. If not then I to understand that.

          A few things you can do to help though like others said is trot pole grids. Set them up and when you go over them actually do them in sitting trot if you can sit the horse well and push. I say sitting because its usually easier to use your leg and seat more effectivly than posting. Squeeze your leg around your horse and tighten up that butt and push. Feel like your grabbing his butt with your butt and pulling it forward. Also work on 20 M circles while holding your outside rein and using your inside leg (unless he throws his butt you need to use the outside to hold it in also) to help him find his balance in the circle and support him. Lots of hillwork will help stenghten his backend also. Start at the walk until you have him engaging his HQ then go to the trot. Engage his HQ just like the trot poles and once he does on the hill at the walk move on to the trot. If he is on the forehand on the hill work its not going to do as much then when engaged because he will just build more in the front end. If cavalettis are available also use those in the trot work the same with the poles. If not then sit one side of the poles up on the fence slanted to the ground. Get a dressage whip and use that instead of a crop. The whip is longer and can help you to stress to the horse that you want that backend up under because you can actually reach the hindend with the whip. Remember also if the horse is not use to working on the HQ then take it easy and slow building it up. If you work him an hour right now on getting his HQ under him he will get sore and resent the work and then you have more problems. Start off in 15 min. intervals.

          Also when you warm up try warming up on a loose rein (if horse neck reins do it that way if not then almost on the buckle) Do it at w/t/c so he can loosen all those big butt muscles up and find his own balance before he is asked to use himself. Asking him to use himself when not stretch out well can also make him sore. Good luck and have fun.
          Oh and you may want to lengthen your irons on the flat a little more than usually so you can really wrap your leg around him and use it more. Don't make them so long you can't use your leg but have a nice long leg to use, that will make it easier also to pull him under you. Work on turns on the haunches from the walk. Another fun thing you can do is teach him rollbacks from the walk and trot on the fence line. Walk parrell to the fence and then stop back him a step so he sits on his butt and move your outside leg back and on hard and pull him around. That will help he see he does have a butt back there and he can use it.
          Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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          • #6
            I have the king of heavy horses. Took a lot of time and involved no grids, jumps, poles, nothing but legs and hands.

            Gas with the leg, support with the hands. As your leg is pushing him into the bit off of his heavy front onto his back end have your hands as the middle man - the medium point. Keep them light but firm, never loose your leg, as he comes into the bit relax your elbows but don't loose your hand. If you do he will go back to auto heavy horse.

            This is ALL I did to get my heavy horse centered/balanced and working from behind. I was/am consistent and now all I do is ask him and he does it. Don't get me wrong though I still have to work him to achieve it but he understands where I am going with it all now.


            Good luck! it is work but it pays off!
            And what Rabicon said about letting him loosen up, stretch his muscles out, then slowly shorten your reins, add you leg and start working the back end.

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