In the book COWBOY DRESSAGE, readers not only discover the story of how and why this new discipline has secured such an avid and expanding fanbase, they also learn the movements recommended by Cowboy Dressage founder Eitan Beth-Halachmy as beneficial to the development of horse-and-rider partnership. Here are his tips for adding the turn-on-the-haunches to your horse’s skillset.
In the turn-on-the-haunches, the horse pivots around his inside hind leg. The horse must be slightly bent in the direction of movement. The exercise serves to build the rider’s control of the horse’s shoulders. The hands communicate with the shoulders and forelegs while the seat maintains the balance of the horse over his hindquarters without losing forward momentum.
It helps to teach the horse the maneuver from the ground first, then teach him to associate your aids from the saddle with a familiar learned behavior.
To perform a turn-on-the-haunches:
1 Bend the horse slightly in the direction of movement. The inside rein creates the bend while the outside rein maintains the bend and communicates with the outside front leg through the shoulder to build momentum. As an example, when turning to the right, the inside rein is your right rein.
2 Ask the horse to move his front legs and outside hind leg around his inside hind leg that serves as a pivot. If performing a turn-on-the-haunches to the right, open the right leg and apply the left leg at or slightly in front of the girth. The horse should remain in the same location by balancing his weight between the two hind legs.
3 Ride the horse into the turn; do not pull the front of the horse. It is important for the horse’s body to remain supple and that he never loses the forward motion.
4 Teach the turn-on-the-haunches one step at a time. Start with one step and move forward out of the turn; work up to two steps, and so on.
5 Reward response to your aids by immediately releasing the pressure as soon as the horse moves into the turn.
To sum up: In a turn-on-the-haunches to the right, the horse will be slightly bent to the right, and his weight will shift back as he moves his forehand to the right, in a clockwise direction, around the right hind foot. The outside front leg crosses over the inside one.
There are more great exercises, tips, and training ideas in COWBOY DRESSAGE, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
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