skip to Main Content
Forehand Blog Featured Image

Tips to Get a Horse Off the Forehand on the Flat and Over Jumps

Submitted by member: Natalie

My name is Natalie and I am the proud owner of a lovely 1/2 TB, 1/2 Clydesdale 15.3hh hunter type horse. Lila has just turned 5 and we are progressing to 1 meter plus courses. She is a great hunter and has already placed 2nd in a local hunter series.

Although Lila makes a lovely bascule over the fences, I find she is rather ‘flat’ in her canter and tends to become more and more on the forehand as the hunter round progresses. I feel that because of this, it is harder than necessary for Lila to clear the jump and she often rubs the poles as a result.

What can I do to get her front end up and off the forehand to make for lighter, easier jumping?

Thank you!

Answer by Jim Wofford

Whenever someone asks me a question about jumping, I always reply by first talking about dressage. So, let’s start with turns on the forehand and leg-yielding. These exercises will teach Lila to step further underneath her body, and to carry her weight more in her hindquarters. Lateral work makes horses stronger and more supple. Next, teach her how to counter-canter. (Do this in a large arena first, until you are sure you can make the turns required by smaller arenas.)  When you turn, think about a weathervane, where you are the spindle, and Lila’s body is the vane. Keep her straight, and use one leg and the opposite rein to produce gentle curves. Do not make the curves too sharp at first, or ask her to hold it for too long.

Use gymnastics to help her lighten her forehand, especially bounces, and later on, double bounces. Once she is adept at double bounces, build an obstacle 57 feet (a short 4 strides) away from the double bounces and canter back and forth, especially from the obstacle to the gymnastic. This will teach her to keep her balance even after she has jumped a few fences.

Good luck!

If you found this helpful, you might be interested in a post by Bernie that deals with a similar issue: “How to Improve Your Horse’s Front End and Jumping Technique.”

Video Recommendation:

improve your horses front end over jumps

The Winkler Gymnastic
Bernie Traurig
In this video, Bernie shares with you one of his favorite gymnastics designed to improve your horse’s agility, front end (technique), rhythm & balance.
Running Time:  10 minutes and 32 seconds

View Video

Have Something You Want to Ask Our Panel of Experts?

Ask The Experts is the ultimate way to get help from the top professionals in the equestrian industry without leaving the comfort of your home. This service is available to Monthly, Annual and Lifetime Members of

Jim Wofford

James C. (Jim) Wofford, 71, was born and raised on a horse farm in Milford, Kansas. He is a graduate of Culver Military Academy, and the School of Business at the University of Colorado (B.S. Bus. Admin. ’69). Wofford, a 3-time Olympian, has spent his life with horses, and is one of the best-known Eventing trainers in the world today. In 2000, Wofford was listed by the Chronicle of the Horse as one of the “50 Most Influential Horseman” of the 20th century, and in January of 2012, he was awarded the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy for Lifetime Achievement, horse sports’ highest honor. A Hall of Fame member of both the United States Eventing Association and Culver Military Academy, Wofford trains at his farm in Upperville, Va., and travels extensively, teaching and giving clinics.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Thank you for posting this, but I’m wondering if “turns on the forehand” shouldn’t be turns on the haunches which lightens the front as the horse steps around the hindquarters?

    1. Thanks for you inquiry Dave, I passed it on to Jimmy and he said, “We teach turn on the forehand before turn on the haunches, just as we teach leg-yielding before shoulder in.” Which makes sense as the horse this member was asking for advice on is only 5 years old. I hope that helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top