How to – Turn on the Forehand
#EverythingHorseMagazine – Training – Turn on the Forehand
Teaching a horse to yield off the leg is a fundamental part of any dressage movement. Weight in the saddle, positioning of the hands and placement of the leg are all required, in coordination, on the riders behalf.
Turn on the Forehand
Aim: Moving the horse’s hind quarters around the front legs.
Riding a straight line
Before commencing any movement, the single most important part is to make sure you, and the horse, can ride a straight line. A straight line may be ridden from C to A. Once your straight line has been established it’s then advisable to move onto the inside track to further reinforce training. The younger, more unbalanced horse, may fall back into the outside track more easily in the beginning, so be sure to use the C to A (down the centre line) to first train a straight line.
Top Tip: Make sure, as a rider, you are sat straight in the saddle. Weight should be evenly distributed in the saddle through the stirrups to heal. You are in an upright position, without a hollow in the back and there’s a straight, soft line running from the bit, to hand, through to elbow. Another straight line could be drawn from shoulder, hip to ankle.
When preparing a horse for any movement it is important to warm up correctly, and evenly on both reins. A simple walk, trot and canter, taking up the contact whilst doing so is recommended. It’s important not to ‘pull’ the horses head but to let him ride into the contact from behind. This can be established, in basic terms, by half halts, change of rein and plenty of transitions; the aim is to have the horse light through the rein into the hands. Make sure the horse is responsive to aids and you are riding with a deep seat.
Before you take the first steps ask yourself
> Is the horse moving forward with plenty of impulsion from behind
> Is he light in the hand
> Is he responsive to the aids
> Is he able to stand still
> Has ‘warm up’ been sufficient
> Is he mature enough to handle the request
> Have you established a square halt
Take the centre line on the left rein, moving forward with plenty of impulsion ask the horse to walk three quarters of the way down the track.
Halt, square, close to the marker this may be the letter M for example, making sure there’s plenty of space for the horse to make the turn. Once in a square halt, bring the inside leg behind the girth and apply pressure at the same time as using weight in the saddle to move the horse in the direction you are wanting to turn. The rider can use the weight of the seat bone in the saddle to encourage the movement, without collapsing or leaning forward. Use the outside hand to keep the horse’s neck and wither straight with a steady contact whilst the inside hand should be encouraging the direction of movement. The riders outside leg should remain on the girth. The horse should be turning anticlockwise.
There should be no forward movement from the front legs, only a marching in time action. The horse’s inside hind (left leg/near hind) should step under and across to begin the movement.
A schooling whip can be held in the inside hand to reinforce the leg aid.
If the horse fidgets or doesn’t understand, simply move forward into another square halt and try again. Don’t try and preform the movement with too greater resistance or if he’s too far out of the initial square halt position.
Once the horse has moved into position, immediately walk him straight and forward. Praise him by walking him into a looser contact before reestablishing forward momentum to try again.
This can be achieved on both reins, and can be built up to half a circle over time.
Tip: Keep training sessions short and sweet, reward plenty and overdo nothing.
Throughout the training once the horse has done what he is asked, reward him by giving a looser rein before collecting once again to repeat on a different rein.
Tip: It’s important not to override the movement you are trying to achieve. A good, full movement, should be completed evenly on both reins before finishing the lesson. Try not to end on a bad note if the horse shows unwilling or is unable to achieve the movement correctly, go back to a more simple movement that you know the horse is happy to compete before ending.
Always end the lesson on a positive note, with a suitable amount of ‘cool down’ time.