What does ‘on the forehand’ actually mean?!
“I know I ought to know this but everyone talks about ‘on the forehand’ and I’m embarassed to admit I don’t know what they’re talking about! My pony pulls really hard and my instructor says he needs to get off his forehand but what should I do? She says I need to push on but surely if I do that he’s going to pull even harder?!
Don’t ever be embarassed to ask what you think is a daft question – you’re not the only one to ask me this exact question!
‘On the forehand’ is just a techy, horsey term for saying your pony is carrying his weight over his front legs and his shoulders. This is a bit like you running really fast down a hill – your legs get faster and faster and you feel like you can’t stop! Although it feels like your pony is pulling, what he’s probably doing is usinig your reins to hold him up. Here comes another ‘techy term’ – he’s not pulling but leaning.
Because your pony is feeling so unbalanced he feels he needs to use your reins to stop him falling onto his nose. The best thing you can do is slow down so you let him get his balance back – just as you’d want to do if you were running down that hill. Go back to walk so he can get his weight over all four legs and stop leaning on you.
Leaning can become a habit so it’s important you make sure you don’t give him anything to lean on. Hold your reins firmly between your thumb and first finger but tap your other fingers on your palms – as if you were texting him (imagine you’re texting him “Don’t lean”!). By doing this you’ll stop yourself fixing your hands which will give him a wonderful solid bar to lean all his weight on and he’ll have to think about carrying his own weight. You might notice his mouth froths up a bit because he’ll start to relax his mouth which will produce more saliva (spit).
If your pony is on his forehand there’s a strong chance you are too! Who knows who started it but it’s down to you to finish it! Make sure you are sitting with your shoulders above your hips and looking straight ahead. This will keep your weight over the saddle and his back – not tipped forward on his shoulders.
Your instructor wants you to push on so your pony starts to take longer steps with his back legs. This will mean he’ll carry more weight over his hindquarters than his shoulders. If you’re sitting up, looking up and have your hands up – with your fingers tapping away – he can’t lean down on your reins so he honestly won’t pull harder – he’ll push his weight backwards onto his hocks.
I hope this makes sense. Below are a few blog posts all about how to keep your pony off his forehand. If you need anything else dont forget to ask!