When you cue your horse to move forward you will have been using the pressure of both your legs equally to apply the aid. Now you will be using your legs separately.
Your goal is to have your horse quietly swing its haunches in a circle, taking minimal steps with the front legs, so they almost stay in the same spot. The horse’s head should incline to the inside of the circle in the direction the haunches are traveling.
- Ride your horse so that it is facing a fence—nose almost to the rail. A board fence is best. An arena wall or outside barn wall would also be suitable.
- Apply gentle tension on the reins as you cue strongly with one leg slightly behind the girth or cinch area—choose right or left. The rein aids should just be enough to arrest forward motion. Tip the horse’s head into the center of the circle by applying slightly more rein to the side you are turning the haunches towards.
- Use the vocal cue ‘over’. You may also use a whip (a long dressage whip works best) to tap on the corresponding haunch. Abandon the whip as soon as the horse begins to understand the leg aid.
- When your horse takes a tentative step in the direction you are cueing for, reward him and continue regular schooling or riding. As you continue training, ask for more steps. But, don’t rush. It is important to do this exercise quietly and accurately so he does not step forward or back and describes a nice clean circle with the hind legs.
- As the horse learns the cue for a turn on the forehand, move away from the wall or fence. Gradually work up to doing this exercise six or eight times per schooling session until the horse can step quietly with its haunches pivoting around its forehand in a complete circle.
- The turn on the forehand is the first step towards teaching a horse to move away from your leg. It is also useful to teach the rider the basics of using hands and legs independently. You might use a turn on the forehand in a trail class, opening a gate from the saddle, or to get out of a tight spot on trail.
Hint:Start from the GroundYou may find your horse will catch on faster if you start teaching him to move away from your cue from the ground.
- Be happy with small successes.
- Even after the horse has learned its lesson, review every so often.
- One or two good steps is better than a lot of shuffling around. Aim for small accurate movements until you can work up to a half circle.
What You Need
- Horse, saddled and bridled
- Safe working area such as a ring or arena.
- Optional: Clicker and treats
- Lots of time and patience.
- Boots or Safety Stirrups