Going forward before being balanced –
Often when a horse is heavy on the forehand, they lack impulsion and are unable to go forward. A rider can easily feel like they have to make this horse forward, and can get trapped in the habit of nagging the horse to go forward. Many trainers even convince the horse and rider the horse must go forward! More leg! Go forward!!
The problem with a front end heavy horse is they make tense, choppy steps. Forcing this horse to go forward makes the horse create more tense steps, faster. These horses are liable to trip, resist, need to be made to go forward constantly or they “shut off,” like an engine that stalled out. They’re prone to suddenly stopping or not being able to slow down once asked.
The problem is like a wheelbarrow that’s tipped over. All the weight is in the front of the wheelbarrow, and it has made it pretty hard to push. You can push that wheelbarrow faster, but it’s going to take some Herculean effort, and all you’re doing is scraping the front of the wheelbarrow on the ground. To push the wheelbarrow with ease, you need to redistribute the weight evenly so you can lift up the front of the wheelbarrow- now you can push it from behind.
Before I start asking my horses to go forward, especially those very tense or front end heavy ones, I teach them to move their front end with lightness and control. This is all done very slowly. I teach them how to move with relaxation in their neck and back. I teach them how to find their hind legs. Once they have their balance, then impulsion is a breeze. They are eager to go forward, because it makes them feel good to do it, and it’s easy to do.