he is carrying his weight on the forehand. This puts excessive strain on
the forelimbs, causes emotional stress
(no horse enjoys feeling unbalanced),
increases the risk of a fall, and limits
On level or sloped ground,
rebalance your horse and engage his
hindquarters by shortening your reins
until you can lightly feel his mouth in
your fingertips. Then with both hands
slightly in front of the saddle, hold
one rein steady while you turn your
opposite hand palm up.
In rhythm with his stride, pulse
your pinky finger against the rein at
an angle toward your horse’s withers. If after three or four seconds
there is no change, increase the
When his weight shifts rearward,
4. Balance Point
The way your horse carries himself means the difference
between comfort, pain and strain, or injury. Discomfort and
tension caused by imbalance also causes emotional stress that
can lead to behavioral problems.
To avoid these issues, ask your horse to travel with his
weight evenly distributed from side to side (lateral balance) and engage his
hind end (horizontal balance). Lateral balance is created by supporting your
horse with soft, even rein contact.
He should feel the same amount of pressure (whether slack or taut) on both
sides of his mouth. If one rein is tighter than the other, he will lean away from or
toward the pressure and overload the corresponding foreleg.
Your horse may not be able to keep his spine very straight at first, so ask him
to do what he can, then let him rest. If staying straight continues to be a struggle,
he isn’t strong, supple or symmetrical enough. Help him develop straightness
with lateral bending exercises (tip No. 5).
Lateral bending also lays the groundwork for hind end engagement, the cornerstone of horizontal balance. To understand horizontal balance, ride your horse
down a hill. If he shifts his weight back and controls his descent, he is engaging
his hindquarters and they are strong enough to support him.
If he gains speed, leans against your hands, or you’re unable to slow him down,
You can use
trees on the
trail to practice