How do I get my horse off the forehand?

ForehandA horse who is very on the forehand is always difficult to ride because it takes a method that is actually the opposite of what you want to do. The natural response when a horse pulls on the reins is to pull back. The problem with that is when you start pulling the reins, the horse slows down and uses his hind legs even less. To get the horse off the forehand you have to make sure that you get him more on his hind end. To do this, the horse has to place his hind legs further under his body. If the horse is able to take more weight on the hind legs, then the front end will rise automatically.

You can train your horse to take more weight on his hind legs by riding transitions, both in a gait and between gaits. These transitions are meant to make your horse quick to your aids as well as help your horse gain more muscles so that he is able to support more weight on his hind end. You have to make sure that when you are giving your aid to go forward you are not pulling your reins and asking your horse to slow down. Try to only give one aid at a time. Make sure the transitions are small and that your horse responds quickly to what you are asking. It is not the transition that is important, but rather the response of your horse and the action in his hind legs that trigger him to take more weight on his hind end.

Answered by Equine Support International

For more equestrian questions answered, pick up the current issue of HQ and turn to the ‘Ask HQ’ section.