We differentiate between three positions: forward down, working frame and collection. Suppleness is most important at first, so we usually shift between forward down and a working frame during lungeing. Advanced horses can be worked in collection on the lunge but should often get the opportunity to stretch and relax.
Here Dalia is stretching perfectly into a forward down position at the trot: she is moving with her back up and a beautiful push from her hindquarters.
Correct level of the head in Forward Down Position
For a correct stretch in forward down it is important that the head is not too far down. Otherwise, the horse will put too much weight on its forehand.
This photo shows the level at which the horse’s mouth should be, approximately between the point of the shoulder and the elbow:
In this photo the orange arrow shows how far down Flenburger’s head is. In this phase he is clearly moving downhill and therefore on his forehand:
The line from forehead to nose should correctly be a bit in front of the vertical:
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The forward down posture is valuable for training only with active hindquarters. Without engaged hindquarters the horse transfers too much weight onto the forehand (please refer to the matching video). The following photo illustrates this well: The mouth at the level of the elbow is exactly right for forward down. However, the hind leg does not step under the center of gravity (green line). The line from croup to withers (red arrow) is sloping slightly down. Dunnit is on the forehand here:
It should look like this!
This photo shows that everything is in harmony. Dalia is clearly moving uphill; her hind legs are stepping well under the center of gravity; her mouth is level with the point of the shoulder and the line from forehead to nose is in front of the vertical.
Even in this canter sequence, Dalia is correctly moving in forward down position.
Many thanks to Nicki Esdorn for translating and narrating my text and video in English!
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