How to prevent your horse from cantering too much on the forehand
By Kirsty Holland
Thursday 09 August 2012
Horsemart blogger and rider Kirsty Holland explains how to school a horse to canter on the forehand that has previously been driven.
The aim of this article is to provide schooling exercises for horses/ponies that canter on the forehand. It came from a pony I am currently schooling that had been driven previously. Further discussion with instructors and equine professionals brought to light that it is a common problem in previously driven horses/ponies as they are not normally cantered, so have not learnt to balance themselves naturally.
The canter transition is normally an "explosive" leap into the gait, instead of a smooth transition you would get from a horse whose hocks and back end were engaged. The rushed transition then puts all the horse's weight on to it's forehand where to regain its balance the canter then becomes faster and faster. This is very much comparative to if you trip or loose balance, you stumble forward increasing in speed to regain your balance.
I have put together a summary of a few techniques and schooling exercises that I have found beneficial to this particular problem. The most important thing to remember for any rider is patience and consistency.
The Driven Horse/Pony: On the Forehand in Canter?
Once you have achieved the canter it is important to feel when the canter is about to become rushed, flat and on to the forehand so that you can bring the horse back to a forward balanced trot and repeat the exercise again.
You can also use shoulder in so your horse is on the correct bend with the hind leg engage. Make sure your horse can do shoulder in down the long side on both reins in walk and trot. Then use shoulder in along the short side of the school, asking off the first corner, using the curve of the school, then before re-joining the track on the second corner ask for an upward transition (walk to trot or trot to canter). This lateral work will straighten, balance and improve suppleness in all paces.
Schooling over jumps further encourages the horse to push from behind, where you will want your impulsion to come from. Start with poles on the floor in walk and trot, and then ask for your canter transition over the pole. Use change of reins and circles to help with balance and then progress to small jumps.
It is also important that you work on straightness and control of the shoulders so that the horse is carrying their own body. Three and four loop serpentines, and 10 meter circles will help balance the right and left side to aid straightness.
Lastly, as a rider, it’s important to remember not to ask with the legs/seat whilst holding too hard with the hands and gripping with the knees. Sit tall and deep in the saddle and keep your legs quiet but firm around the horse. Avoid setting your hands against the horse’s mouth; lightly move your fingers through a good relaxed contact.
Visit Kirsty's website http://kholland.webs.com/ for more information.
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