|MFT VERY front heavy and PACES.
California 13 year old MFT cross (we think with TWH) Gelding, ridden in Halter/bridle combo with a walking bit (6" shanks) and mild block port mouth (he's very very front heavy )in a Orthoflex patriot (it fits well according to his chiropractor) in Arena, trails, round-pen by intermediate-advanced rider.
Question: Since I've got him back from his year-long lease, he's VERY front heavy, paces paces paces (and NOT a comfortable pace), and I miss the horse that was very easy to control, listened, and would somewhat gait for me whan we would work on it. I have been working with him a LOT to try to gain that level of partnership we had before, and it feels like it's not working. I used to compete with him on 60-100 mile rides, and now I don't know if I could even make it 10.
From Panelists Laura
This sounds like one of the very few times when I would recommend the
use of a more severe bit to correct a problem. Since you are an intermediate/advanced
rider, I will assume you have light, kind hands and do not use the bit
for your balance in the saddle. Your horse sounds like he has had
a year's worth of "training" to push on the bit, ignore cues, and drop
his weight to his forehand. This is going to be a hard problem but
I would recommend you use a double twisted wire, gag type of bit.
Don't use a single twisted wire - it's too severe. If you can borrow
one from someone, try to do that. You won't need to use it very long.
When you fit the bit, adjust your bridle so the bit fits right in the corner
of the horse's mouth - one wrinkle is okay. Check to be sure that
as the bit rises in the horse's mouth that it won't hit any wolf teeth
(on upper jaw in front of molars).
Be very gentle when you ride, you have more ammunition in your hands
than you may be used to. Start your horse out just walking slowly
and when he leans forward give a small sharp tug to get him to raise his
head. As his head comes up, praise him and raise your hands a little
higher. Keep your hands in one spot and when he drops his head let
him hit the bit and bring himself back up. Keep him moving and after
he figures out he can't just push on the bit, reward him by putting him
up. Keep this up for a few days. Be very
After he is working a little lighter on the front end, you might want
to switch him to a nicer bit such as the Wonder Bit with a sweet iron mouthpiece
(don't use one of those thin mouthpieces - way too harsh) to help keep
him light in the front end. You can also work on teaching him to
shift his weight to his hind end by working on turns on the hindquarters
by facing a fence and getting him to rotate first one direction then the
Once he quits pushing his considerable weight forward on to your hands, you can now go back to working on collecting him properly which is probably what you were trying to do when you got him home.
From Panelists Christine
If this was an Icelandic the answer would be easy. Trot him, trot him, trot him. I know some of you are gasping for air reading this, but I know of some very successful Walking Horse trainers who have trotted their pacey horses to clean up the gait and get more movement back into the horse. Generally when a horse is getting pacey he is getting more tension and shortening his back muscles. Trotting loosens him up and allows for more freedom. The two gaited breeds that advocate trotting, American Saddlebreds and Icelandics, also have the horses with the fastest 4 beat gait.