Both Ends Now

This turn on the forehand is an exercise that needs to be done as a part of the warm up every time you ride your horse.


Well, mainly because it’s the most difficult thing to do with a horse. The horse doesn’t like to do it, and riders don’t like to do it. That’s because it’s hard.

So to make it easy it needs lots of repetition.

If you want to look like a pro, then do what the pros do. They spend a lot of time asking their horse to move its feet sideways, both front and back feet.

Which brings us to the turn on the haunches.

The old masters used to say that if you could turn the horse’s head it was probable that you would turn the horse, but not certain. If you could turn the shoulders of the horse, it was more likely that you could turn the horse. But, if you control the haunches, you control the horse!

So we started with the haunches.

However, we started out wanting to move the horse sideways to open a gate. To do that you have to move the front and back end of the horse at the same time.

If you are moving forward, take your hand out to the side, either side, and the horse will eventually go that way.

What we want to do is make sure he does it on cue.

So if you take his head to the side, then with the opposite leg, bump his shoulder, he’s more likely to move his feet to the side.

Let’s start by riding our horse to the right in a large size circle. I want you to take your right hand out to the right side, and hold it, maybe even squeeze and release it a little, then with your left leg at the girth bump his side, once or twice.

If he steps even a little bit to the right, release hand and leg.

Let him take a few steps and ask again, the same way.

Each time insist just a little more until he steps out to the right at almost ninety degrees to the line of travel. And reward the slightest try with release and soft word and caress.

You now have a cue to move the shoulder over.

The cue for the hip is leg back, and the cue for the shoulder is leg at the girth.

Split the difference and cue the horse halfway between the girth and hindquarter, and voila!, you have a cue to move the whole horse to the side!

But wait! You’re not done yet.

Now let’s work out the bugs and get a tad more precise. Moving along the fence, turn you horse’s face into the fence about forty five degrees, with your opening rein, and while doing that, put your fence-side leg on him to move him sideways a few steps.

When he takes those few steps, let him go straight, as a reward.

Practice doing this on both sides.

Remember the leg is a “cue”, not a “force”. If he doesn’t get the cue, then is the time for “the hairbrush”, so you add the stick.

One tap. -> It’s not about kicking, and no, cha cha cha.

If you have to kick, then go all the way back to square one.

The whole point is for the horse to actually learn a cue, and make use of that learned signal to activate his brain to do a movement.

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