Forehand (horse)

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The term forehand refers to the front half of a horse's body.


A horse's "motor" is located in his hindquarters, and a horse that is heavy on the forehand (weight primarily on the forehand) is not able to properly move forward with impulsion. For good impulsion, a horse must either be balanced or have most of its weight tilted back toward its hindquarters.

Good riding aims to help transfer some of the animal's body weight back, getting the horse "off the forehand," but some riding disciplines require a greater amount of this transfer of weight (or "collection") than others. Sports such as dressage and show jumping require some of the greatest transfers of weight, while others, such as western pleasure, require a great deal less. However, it is beneficial for all horses to not travel "on the forehand," as this decreases the concussion placed on the front legs and their joints, thereby decreasing the risk of concussion-related lamenesses such as sidebone, ringbone, and others.

Certain conformational faults will encourage a horse to travel on the forehand, thereby making it more difficult for a rider to attain the shift in weight (although talented riders can usually train any horse to travel better with enough time). Horses that are built "downhill," with their hindquarters especially high, will be harder to collect.

Anatomy of the forehand

Muscles, tendons, and ligaments

The masseter, or cheek muscle, opens and...
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