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Turn On the Forehand Explained

Understanding Horseback Riding Lateral Movements

What is a Turn On the Forehand?

The horse’s front legs remain relatively in one spot, and the hind end travels 180 degrees around the front end.

Turn On Forehand Reel

One of the first lateral (sideways) movements taught to horses is called a turn on the forehand. It introduces the idea that the rider’s leg aid can mean to go sideways instead of just go forward.

 

Turn On the Forehand Video

FEI Rider, Trainer, & Instructor, Eliza Sydnor Romm, explains the turn on the forehand.

View From Above

The horse seen from above performing a turn on the forehand

An Interactive Example

Click on the green flag, then click the arrows to see the horse do a turn on the forehand.

Turn On Forehand Graphic

Did You Know?

Some key tips to know about the Turn on the forehand

  • The horse moves away from the rider’s leg that is applied behind the girth and moves on three tracks with the front legs somewhat stationary and the hind legs moving in a 180 degree circle around the front legs.
  • The horse’s body is straight or slightly bent away from the direction of travel.
  • The horse’s hind legs cross under it’s body.
Turn On the Forehand

Turn On the Forehand Aids

To ride a turn on the forehand, the rider should encourage a square halt by moving the horse leg-to-hand with proper riding aids, creating energy with the legs and containing the energy with the hands.

  • Your weight should be slightly to the inside (the direction of the turn).
  • The outside rein prevents any forward movement and helps maintain the bend.
  • The rider’s inside leg comes back slightly behind the girth to encourage the horse’s hind leg to cross over.
  • The rider’s outside leg should be on the girth, receiving and regulating each step.
  • The aids should be relaxed slightly after each step, before asking for another step, as a reward the horse.
  • When the turn is complete, the horse should be ridden forward at the walk with energy.
Boldt Turn on Forehand aids
Harry Boldt

Harry Boldt

World Renowned Dressage Rider / Author

The Dressage Horse/Das Dressurpferd (English & German Edition)

With two gold and two silver medals at both the Olympic Games and the World Championships, and with five gold, four silver and two bronze medals at European Championships, Harry Boldt was one of the greatest competitive dressage riders in the world for over two decades. Very few riders have a comparable wealth of experience in both producing dressage horses and riding internationally. Harry Boldt passes on this experience in his book The Dressage Horse.

The Dressage Horse book is available on Amazon.

Benefits

Why Perform a Turn on the Forehand?

Horse Icon

For the Horse

The turn on the forehand exercise can be beneficial to the horse in that it encourages the horse to stretch and flex the inside hind leg. It provides a way to release stiffness and tension from the muscles while improving strength and coordination.

It is also a good teaching exercise to introduce basic lateral concepts (sideways movement from the rider’s leg), from which more complicated lateral movements can be introduced.

Helmet Icon

For the Rider

The turn on the forehand exercise improves both the rider’s coordination and application of the aids. It can be a helpful starting point for learning lateral movements because it allows the rider more time to think through and apply the aids needed for each step.

It has practical use when helping the rider to open and close gates while mounted.

Duke of Newcastle horse

Brief History of Turn On the Forehand

According to the German handbook of training, Advanced Techniques of Riding, the turn on the forehand, or “the turn around the forehand in motion,” was developed by the Duke of Newcastle in the 17th century.

“This exercise taught the horse, once he had submitted to the one-sided inside aids, to seek and accept the outside aids. This is the first step towards straightening the horse on curved and straight lines. It also prepares the horse for the collecting movement of shoulder-in, which is the foundation of all other lateral movements.”

Turn On Forehand Smaller Circles

How to Introduce the Turn On the Forehand

This movement is more frequently practiced from a halt, the turn about the forehand from a walk may be an easier introduction to sideways movements for a young horse if started with a relatively wide turn/circle that can gradually be reduced until the horse is able to perform a turn on the forehand with the front legs relatively in one spot.

When to Do a Turn on the Forehand

Before you attempt a turn on the forehand, you should ensure that you have warmed up your horse and have the supervision of your trainer or an adult if needed.

Make sure your horse is responding to your aids and moving forward with impulsion from his hind end.

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Inside Outside Riding Arena

Where to do a Turn on the Forehand

If you will be turning towards the outside of the arena/schooling area, you should take an inner track before halting to ensure you have enough space to execute the movement – if you are on the right rein, you will be asking your horse to turn to the left.

Eliza Sydnor Romm dressage logo

Eliza Sydnor Romm Dressage

FEI Rider, Trainer, & Instructor

Eliza Sydnor Romm is a classically trained dressage rider and instructor. Her goal is to successfully train horses and riders with an emphasis on partnership and harmony.

Eliza Sydnor Romm Dressage

Turn On Forehand Icon

Welcome to your Turn On the Forehand Quiz

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What is a turn on the forehand?
Why is the turn on the forehand one of the first lateral movements taught to horses?
What to the legs of the horse do during a turn on the forehand?
What are the aids to ask for a turn on the forehand?
What are the benefits of the turn on the forehand?
How do you introduce the turn on the forehand to a horse?

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RankQuiz NameUserCorrect Score
1Turn On the Forehand QuizErin100
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5Turn On the Forehand Quiz16
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18Turn On the Forehand QuizSusan66