Monthly Archives: January 2013

Turn on the Forehand

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Turn on the Forehand

This diagram demonstrates the movement of the horse’s hindquarters around his front leg while performing a “Turn on the Forehand”.

I’ve executed a “Turn on the Forehand” many times. Halt on the wall, ask the horse to yield to the outside rein and the outside leg and pivot his hindquarters around his front outside leg. I never really considered it as a multi-faceted movement until recently.

My trainer asked us to perform a turn on the forehand. It was sloppy, to say the least. My horse stepped forward, then practically spun in the circle around his front outside leg before I could even blink. Honestly, I don’t even think I completed any cue before he figured out what he thought I was asking.

Well… after a few repeats, attempting to focus on getting specific, controlled responses reflecting the specific aids, my trainer had me dismount. Much of the remainder of my lesson was spent teaching my horse that pressure on his side behind the girth means “move your hind end!!!!”

The ground work… ugh. First of all, A decided he just didn’t like this being pushed around non-sense. He was confused, and was getting frustrated. So, he nipped at my trainer. Multiple times. When she avoided the nips successfully (and warned to wallop him, as biting is definitely a “NO!!!!” in our world), he resorted to ninja-pony-kicking at her.

What is “Ninja-pony-kicking”, you might ask? Many equestrians refer to it as “cow kicking” – horses are able to kick out to the side with their hind legs – not just the typically backwards kick. So, my intelligent horse knew that the irritation of having a flat palm applying steady pressure on his belly was related to the lady standing at his side. So, like he would with any other irritation, he kicked out. He tried this a few times previously when dealing with pressure and things irritating him. We work to avoid it, and eventually, we work that nasty behavior right out him. He is praised profusely when he “gets it right”, and we essentially ignore the naughty behavior. Except the biting.

Anyhow – behavioral issues aside (we got over them), we have been working on the ground with the exercises to get A to be responsive to leg pressure. He finally understood what was being asked of him enough that he stopped with the nasty attitude. SUCCESS! My pony and I completed a few squares in each direction, performing a three-step (90*) Turn on the Forehand at each corner. He was light and responsive, and did not rush to complete the maneuver before being cued! I’m so proud of this silly, trusting and opinionated boy!

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Goals

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One of my friends mentioned the need for goal setting earlier today – specifically relating to getting her horses ready for “show season”. Fun!

I  have shown my horse, Lilah, once. It was great, terrifying fun. We took home a ribbon for 4th place (out of a class of about 20 riders). Not too bad for a first-time show, right? Right! I hope to show my horse A this year! Several months ago, during a lesson with my trainer, she said she thought we’d be ready to show this year if I keep up the good work! I think it was mostly a mini-motivational speech, as it came subsequent to my assertion that in the prior weeks, I’d only ridden a handful of times. :p

So, following my friend’s lead, I think I need to start setting goals for myself with my horses! Sure, each time I work with them, we have a short-term goal for our session, but we need a bigger goal, broken down into parts. That, of course, will likely be remodeled as the training progresses… but, it is a start.

Goal 1? Ride MORE!

I have a video of myself riding A from the Spring of 2011. I believe we have progressed since that point. I think, as part of our training, I should have someone videotape our rides at least once a month or so… just to see where we make progress, where we regress, and what seems stable with regards to each of our training and fitness.