BY LINDA LANDERS – Forward riding has two components in my mind. First, the horse must respond by going forward from the leg and seat aids of the rider promptly. At the beginning, of a horse being broke to ride, this is often taught without much connection to the mouth. This can result in hurried or explosive reactions but the response is taught from the beginning. Much of the correct reaction of the horse can also be taught on the lunge line or other techniques from the ground, long lining for example. Without the response to really move forward, the resulting development of the horse to achieve, balance, relaxation and the connection to the bit can’t be achieved. These are the next components to be arrived at. I believe that this is probably the most misunderstood term in riding. A horse could just barely move and one could say it went forward. But the horse must have in his mind a much more immediate reaction to the aids and an energetic response, or all other parts of the scale of training can’t be achieved. Judges used to use the term more often, but in the L graduate program other words were encouraged because of the misunderstanding many riders could have with the word “forward” alone. So we use energetic, longer steps, more engagement, or lazy, unresponsive, behind the leg, lacking in tempo and other comments to describe what we want to see the horse and rider create in the test. Then some people run their horses off their feet because they think that is the desired effect. At least, the horse is moving from the aids. Then balance and a tempo to maintain the balance can be established. Without that “forward” instinct in the horse from the aids of the rider, years can be lost in ineffective training. This is an important concept to discuss and understand. I am eager to read what other professionals say about it.
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