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Lightness On The front

In one of my recent Horsemanship Lessons, I was asked by my rider, "Why does my horse need to keep moving forward while turning on the forehand, but needs to rock back for a turn on the haunches?" Excellent question.

When the horse is doing a turn on the forehand the horse needs to keep forward motion to keep the flow, or wave, going. Also, when we are asking the horse to turn on the forehand and they plant their front end it creates tension, which in turn stops the flow of motion, or the wave. Our goal is to create a soft, light horse, and to do that they must have flow of motion. Also, when we have them turn on the forehand and plant their front, they become like a beam swinging around. When they continue to move forward while turning on the forehand, they are remaining light on their front end.

Yet, when we are asking our horse to move their shoulders for a turn on the haunches, we are asking them to gather up to move forward. When working a cow, we ask the horse to rock back on their hind end to stop, change direction, and then push off to move forward. If we need to rope a cow, we want to make sure our horse is rocked back on their hind end so they are light to move in any direction we need them to move and to hold the cow as well. A solid turn on the haunches here the horse is rocked back, not moving forward, is necessary for good forward movement.

The same is for the jumping horse, they have to be light on the front end to get over a jump. This horse here exemplifies how he is rocked on his hind end and is coiled like a spring, ready to take off. The dressage horse needs to be light on the front end for balanced moves. Look at the advance maneuvers of the Lipizzaner horses. Each and every one of them require good balance on the hind end.

The horse's engine is in their hind end. Therefore, we must teach them to maximize it for their full potential. Naturally, horses carry 60% of their weight on their front end. The entire purpose of horse training, for a good effective horse for any discipline, western or English, in the arena, on the trails, in the field, or on the range, is to teach them to carry themselves lightly, with more weight on the hind end than the front. This makes for a much more pleasant ride. It makes for a better moving horse. And it makes a much more physically healthy horse.


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