Exercises for heavy horses in front
Question. I rent a half-blooded 14-year-old. We have a great time in the fields, but when I take dressage lessons, it becomes incredibly heavy in front, shifting the weight of my head into my arms. We constantly struggle to work in the best frame. What to do to encourage the horse to move not in front?
Answer. Most horses are more or less inclined to lean on the front. Assuming that your horse does not have any problems with the exterior or health, you can say that the right training will help you, thanks to which he will find the right balance. For my part, I can offer you some exercises. They will induce the horse to shift the weight back and move ahead of the shankels, which will undoubtedly positively affect its balance.
Training exercises are divided into two categories: longitudinal and lateral.
Longitudinal work is aimed at collecting and lengthening the frame and stride of the horse, and lateral – so that the horse becomes flexible in the neck and back, which will allow it to remain straight. These two categories of exercises complement each other. They are aimed at creating a well-balanced and obedient horse. To begin, I will suggest that you work on two longitudinal exercises that are necessary to balance the horse and teach her to move in front of the shenkel.
Adjust the horse’s response to your shankel
This exercise teaches your horse to respond quickly to the slight pressure of the shenkels applied behind the girth with vertical stirrups. It is the basis for creating momentum.
When you stop the horse, give a light message with the pendants to move it forward. If there is no response from the horse, reinforce the pressure of the pendants with a whip, putting it out directly behind your boot. Until the answer becomes immediate and lively, don’t compromise! Perform this exercise as often as necessary until your horse’s reaction to the shenkel is immediate in all ascents.
Learn to stop without pulling yourself
To gain this skill, start by sitting deep in the saddle. The housing is upright. Keep the shankels in contact with the horse’s sides – this forces her to align her hind legs. Move forward with an active step in contact. Contact involves a feeling of constant, even, and elastic pressure in the hand, with your elbows relaxed and in front of your hips.
Work to ensure that the steady contact that you feel in the horse’s neck and mouth, in your arms, moves through your arms further, into the back and down, into your pelvis. Move your tailbone forward, keeping the lower back straight and straight. Your crotch or pubic arch pushes forward on the bow. When you create a contact in this way, your landing will become deeper and more reliable.
Since the horse feels that you are not giving in, but in no way pulling, it is slightly inferior to the snaffle, and it is then that you will give it an instant reward – your arms lift slightly, relaxing the joints, making the contact soft, but not losing it. Your hands never pull, just don’t give in – finger joints close. The negative force is processed by your good fit into a collecting control and strengthens your position. When your horse learns to stop well, you can apply the same technique for a split second and repeat it to get the horse’s weight shifted back. This is another way to describe the control that we call semi-containment – the most important control that makes the horse obedient and balanced.
Below are the two simplest side exercises that will teach your horse to yield to the shenkel.
Raul de Leon |
First, a quarter of a turn in front.
Step along the inner track or quarter-line (for example, on your left hand). Ask the horse to make a quarter circle so that its backside moves counterclockwise around its left shoulder. Her neck should bend slightly to the left, allowing you to see the corner of your left eye. Your seat and body should be calm, sit a little heavier on the left ischium. Press the left (inner) Shenkel in a place located a few centimeters from the normal position – no more. Your right (outer) schenkel never moves away from the side of the horse and is ready to move the horse forward if it tries to step back. Create alternating pressure with the active left shenkel. Relieve pressure when you feel your left ischial bone lower (this is because the horse’s left hind leg has moved). Ask for the next step in the same way – activate the shankel and soften when you feel the answer. Ask for only one or two steps, and then move forward without hesitation, maintaining the rhythm of the step. Encourage the horse to move the left front foot a few centimeters forward, while its left hind leg crosses in front of the right hind leg.