What Does 'Forward' Riding Really Mean?

What Does 'Forward' Riding Really Mean?

There seems to be a common misconception when it comes to riding forward versus fast. Understanding the difference is one thing, but actually taking the time to break down and understand what riding forward means is another. 

What Forward Riding is Not

Rather than focusing on speed first, focus on power and quality. These two components are necessary to practice and understand before speed is added. This will greatly improve the quality of the canter. 

An indication of a rider going fast but not forward; there is little to no control, adjustability is difficult, or the horse’s head is out in front of them.

Remember: riding forward is not relying on strength, but rather feel. 

What Riding Forward Is

Now that we've gone over what riding forward is not, let's break down exactly what riding forward is. 

Riding forward means to prioritize: 

  • Quality
  • Balance 
  • Engagement 
  • Adjustability
  • Impulsion from the Hind End

A common misconception is that speed is needed in order to make it around a jump course, although in reality, power is needed. This is where quality, balance, engagement, and impulsion come in. When the quality of canter improves, the horse is able to use their body more efficiently, resulting in a more engaged hind end. From there, your horse is able to create more impulsion, making it easier for them to collect, extend, and make it around a course of fences. 

Learning how to ride forward can take time and it's 100% okay to feel uncomfortable when you first begin to create a more powerful, forward canter. This is normal and part of the learning process.

Want to learn more on how to create a forward canter? Check out our new course, Forward Not Fast with EM instructor, Karl Cook.