Square exercise with turns on the forehand
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:19 PM
The square with turns on the forehand exercise is beneficial for the green horse, for the lazy horse to get him sharper off your legs and to supple a stiff horse.
First teach your horse in hand to move sideways from a whip for a step or two and than practice turns on the forehand along the wall for a couple days.
Plan in your head what size of a square you want to ride. Most of the time sides of 10 m work really well in an arena because you can use quarter lines as your guidelines. This way you stay off the walls to make sure you are turning your horse and not the wall. Ride a nice marching forward walk on a slightly shorter rein. Near the turn slow down but do not halt. This way front end will walk a very small arc and hind end will walk bigger arc. Soften your horse on the inside rein or open it a little bit but do not pull back. Do not lose steady quiet connection on the outside rein. Keep outside leg quiet but ready, it will help you to stop the turn and with your inside leg behind the girth ask your horse to step sideways with his haunches. Ask with light touches, use the help of a whip if necessary. Our objective is to move haunches more than shoulders, to really make a turn and not just quarter of a circle. When your horse starts to move sideways, remember, quarter turn is just 2-3 steps, so do not ask for a long time. Otherwise your horse will turn more then 90 degrees. To stop the turn first stop asking with inside leg and use outside as a guard to help. Send your horse forward into marching walk.
Things that can go wrong:
  • You are trying to slow down your walk or initiate the turn and your elbows are moving backwards. Usually reins are too long.
  • Instead of stepping sideways with his haunches your horse executes a quarter of a circle. Not enough control over forehand especially with outside rein.
  • Your horse collapses on his outside shoulder and drifts sideways. Too much inside rein not enough outside rein.
  • It is hard for you to keep the appropriate size of a square. Put some cones on the ground to help you with that. Stay in the present moment and deal with the task at hand. If your horse is slow to react initiate your turn earlier until he starts to listen better. Use touches with the whip behind the inside leg to better mobilizes his haunches.
  • Your horse turns too quickly. Use your outside leg to regulate the speed.
  • Your horse starts to rein-back. Soften your hands.
  • Your horses plants his front end and pivots around it. Do not hold with the reins, let the forehand move on a small arc.
Practice until you can work out how much of each aid and for how long you need it to make exercise flow smoothly. Horses are very good at anticipation. Very soon your horse will get what you are trying to do and start to cooperate better. Finish with couple good turns, give your horse a brake and change direction.
I do not like turns on the forehand from a halt. I may practice it at the very beginning to get my horse understand the idea of moving haunches around forehand and then I do it from a slow walk. It is very hard to mobilize forehand in the spot from the halt. Very often horses pivot from a halt loading their font end significantly and not moving it. I prefer to do the turn from the walk. I do not hold my horse on the spot I let him make a small circle with the forehand.
For an advanced horse the walk should be collected, and turns should flow smoothly. Your horse must have a positioning at all time and appropriate bent or counter-bent in the turns. Schooled horse will not change the rhythm, balance and feel in your hands.
Happy riding...
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