It’s an exercise that is often overlooked and it shouldn’t be. Turn on the forehand will improve your horse’s suppleness and acceptance of the contact, says grand prix dressage rider and trainer Elizabeth Allen.

Exercise 1: Check your horse is straight

This simple exercise checks how well you can coordinate your aids. It takes practise and may take a few repetitions for your horse to understand what you’re asking him to do.

How to ride it

  1. Ride up the centre line in trot.
  2. Ask your horse to flex his neck to the left and keep his body straight.
  3. After a few strides, straighten his neck and then ask for flexion to the right.

Exercise 2: Turn on the forehand

As you ride this movement your horse’s back should remain straight. Only ask for a couple of steps to begin with, so your horse doesn’t get anxious. Once he’s happy, build up the number of steps.

How to ride it

  1. On the left rein, riding off the track, ask for halt.
  2. Ask for a little flexion to the left.
  3. Use your left leg to ask him to move his hindquarters to the right.
  4. Half-halts on your outside rein prevent your horse from walking off.
  5. Throughout the movement, maintain a slight flexion at the poll to the inside.
  6. Once you’ve completed the movement, walk forwards in a straight line.

Exercise 3: Turn about the forehand

Next, you can play with the movement and, rather than halting, make an obvious half-halt before you start. You’ll turn about the forehand from walk.

How to ride it

  1. In a walk, ride off the track a little.
  2. Shorten the stride until your horse almost halts.
  3. At this point, ask for slight flexion to the inside.
  4. Have your inside leg at the girth and your outside leg a little behind the girth.
  5. Use your inside leg to ask your horse to move his inside hindleg so that it steps under his body. He can now pivot around his inner front leg, which steps ever so slightly forwards and move his quarters around his front end.
  6. Look up where you want to go.
  7. Your inside rein gently leads, balanced by your outside rein to avoid too much bend in the neck.
  8. Once you’ve completed the movement, ride your horse forwards in walk.

Meet the expert: Elizabeth Allen is a BHSI and UKCC3 coach. She rides at grand prix level and is part of Collective Equestrian.

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