Most of us already know that horses should be working from back to front in order to be carrying themselves correctly. When the horse is working from back to front it means that he is using his hindquarters and back correctly. And if not, that’s what could be causing the feeling of too much weight in the forehand.
While there is never a quick fix for this, there are some exercises that could help your horse better use his “engine” and therefore feel lighter.
- Transitions Between Gaits
Walk-Trot and Canter-Trot transitions are really good exercises to help your horse to lighten in the forehand. Doing it on a circle would even be better since he would step more under himself. Remember to really “ride” those transitions! Don’t do sloppy transitions or else it beats the purpose. Focus on using your seat and legs for both the upward and downward transitions.
Bonus Tip: If you feel like your horse is kind of dull to your leg. You could even start with some walk-halt transitions to get him more sensitive to your leg. After doing a square halt, squeeze your calves and if you don’t get the response you want from your horse use your whip behind your leg to correct him. He will soon learn to respond to your light squeeze!
2. Transitions Within Gaits
This one can be challenging especially if your horse is on the lazier side, which is why it would be a good idea to incorporate the walk-halt transitions before you do this exercise. When you feel ready pick up the trot on a circle and start with extending and collecting the trot. Come to the point where your horse would almost fall back into a walk, but keep using your leg so he keeps trotting slowly! This will help with carrying himself! You can do the same exercise in canter.
Reminder: Always be mindful of your hands when you are doing these exercises. Make sure to not use too much hand when you are doing your downward transitions!
3. Riding Squares
We are so used to riding circles that we almost never think of trying different shapes! Squares are really good to help your horse wight lightening in the forehand. You absolutely need to do this exercise slowly or else it won’t be a square! Start at the walk so your horse gets the idea. Decide on the four corners, in which you will do your turns. Before approaching each corner collect your horse prepare him with a half halt that some thing is coming and slide your inside leg a little behind the girth to push your horse’s hindquarters to the out and then complete the turn. Do the same thing in trot! Remember to go sloooowly! Because you ask your horse to use his hindquarters and go slowly, this exercise really encourages your horse carry himself properly and become lighter!
4. Extend On The Long Side and Collect On The Short Side
This exercise is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a very good one if done correctly! You can do this exercise both in trot and canter; you extend on the long sides of your arena and right before you approach the corner you collect and ride collected on the short side and then extend again once you reach the corner to the long side!