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Improve your horses' obedience to your leg aids....

If you can teach your horse turn on the forehand you'll be improving his obedience to your leg aids, helping your own co-ordination of aids AND this exercise has a very practical use - it's much easier to open and close gates when you are out hacking if your horse will turn on the forehand easily!
Turn on the forehand
  1. During this exercise the horse changes direction by doing a 180-degree turn from halt. His forelegs march on the spot as his hindlegs move in a half circle around them. You will probably also have heard of turn about the forehand - the movement is the same as turn on the forehand except that the horse's forelegs move in a small semi-circle instead of staying in virtually the same place.
  2. If your horse makes a turn on the forehand to the right his head moves to the right and his hindlegs step around to the left. When you are teaching your horse this movement just ask him for one step to the side. Praise him as soon as he steps sideways and then walk forward. You can then gradually build up the number of steps until he turns through 180 degrees. 
  3. For horses that have never done this exercise before, it helps to have the horse facing the arena fence, about three foot in from the outside track. This effectively means that the arena fence blocks forward movement. For a turn on the forehand to the right, remember that your right rein keeps the flexion to the right. Your left rein prevents your horse from walking forwards - if your horse tries to rush use half-halts on the left rein.
  4. The aim is for your horse to take slow deliberate steps with the rider using their right leg behind the girth to ask the horse's hindquarters to move over. Do not be tempted to just put your leg on and keep it there! If you do, your horse is more likely to lean into your aid rather than move away. Use repeated short aids to say 'over' and if you can time the aid so that it is applied just as your horse lifts his right hindleg so much the better! While your right leg is doing this, your left leg should be on the girth, maintaining impulsion. 
  5. As soon as your horse has completed the exercise, ride him forwards in trot. 
  6. When you are riding this exercise it's important to be aware of your own body position - if your horse doesn't react to your aids you might be tempted to twist your body as you apply the aids again. Remember to mentally check your own position regularly as you attempt any exercise.
  7. If you find that your horse tries to walk backwards instead of sidewards make him walk forwards actively before trying the exercise again. However, before you do anything think about your hands - are you being too strong with them and pulling him back? If you are, take one hand off the rein, shake your arm and then rotate it so that you loosen up your shoulder as well. Repeat with the other arm. Then, being very aware of your rein aids, try the exercise again. For more great riding tips and exercises Read more