Any horse can lack forwardness, but they are all capable of being forward and responsive. Both these things will make your horse a more enjoyable ride and are key to success in any discipline.
Top showing producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable shares one exercise she uses to get her horses to be more forward.
“I think of training like a staircase — gradually progressing,” explains Katie. “The first rung is forwardness. If your horse is constantly behind your leg, not only will the judge notice, but it will make his work and your life much harder. Also, you can’t ask your horse to work in a correct shape without forwardness.”
The key to exercises targeted at forwardness is to be consistent in your approach. Your horse should move smartly off your leg when you ask him to go, and not slow down until you say he can.
“Many riders start with good intentions but struggle to maintain this. The result is constantly nagging with the leg, which your horse will soon learn to ignore.”
Transitions, and lots of them, are what Katie recommends here.
How to ride it
- Go large around your arena in walk, ensuring the pace is purposeful.
- Choose a spot where you want your horse to transition to trot.
- As you get there, give the aids for trot, being perfectly clear and not restricting the forward movement with your hands or seat.
- If your horse doesn’t go straight into trot, keep asking, making the aid stronger if needed.
- As soon as he trots, stop asking and let him go large. Only use your leg again if he slows down.
- Choose a spot where you want him to walk and only let him walk once he’s there. Aim for a progressive, not an abrupt, transition.
- Repeat the exercise until he will trot at the lightest of aids and keep trotting until you indicate otherwise.
- Try the same exercise on a 20m circle. Your inside rein and outside leg will come into play here.
Meet the expert: Katie Jerram-Hunnable has won myriad supreme showing titles, including multiple Horse of the Year Show and Royal International championships. She produced and rode horses for late The Queen, and now The King, is an accredited trainer and co-author of several books.