The Young and Future Event Horse article series is being provided through a partnership between Mythic Landing Enterprises, LLC. and the USEA.
One of the most important pieces of training that Meghan Truppner likes to instill in her young horses is how to properly turn on the forehand early on. This is a big submission question that’s necessary for horses to learn, especially if they’re going to contest the upper levels. Treat this as the first step in your horse understanding how to properly yield from the rider’s leg pressure.
As you start to introduce this concept to your young horse, start on the ground. Truppner believes your “ride” begins the minute you put your horse’s halter on. Be aware of your horse as you walk into the wash stall. Do they naturally want to turn to the right or to the left? How easy is it for your horse to yield from you when you’re grooming from either side? All these questions you’re answering on the ground will come up when you’re riding.
Truppner likes to introduce turning on the forehand on the ground first. While having your horse standing beside you attached to a lunge line, take the butt of your whip, or your fingers if you horse is overly sensitive and place it just behind the girth. Remember that this is where you’ll apply leg pressure when you’re on their back. Truppner explains that many riders insist on using their leg at their horse’s flank, which is incorrect.
Continuing on, using your hand or the butt of the whip, give them gentle nudges until you get a reaction. Keep repeating this until you see your horse cross their outside front leg over their inside front leg and move their haunches away from you. It’s important to note that many times when you begin to introduce this movement, the horse will actually take a step back and become resistant. Be sure to stay patient and wait for them to yield to your pressure by actually moving their rib cage from side to side.
Truppner describes, “Before you can start teaching more advanced concepts, such as inside leg to outside rein, your horse must understand that the inside leg can make them do more than just go forward. Having your horse understand how to properly turn on the forehand is essentially what keeps your circles round.”
Truppner likes to introduce this idea before thinking about asking her horse to leg yield because as a rider you have a bit more control of the environment. Once your horse understands to move around your inside leg, asking them to move laterally and introducing the leg yield movement is the perfect progression.
A few ideas to remember when teaching this to your young horse is that when you ask your horse to perform this movement the first time while you’re riding, make sure it’s in a lesson with a qualified instructor. When you feel your horse step away from you when you apply leg pressure, reward them right away. And finally, make sure to have a lot of patience. All horses are different, some pick it up quickly and some take a few sessions to really get it. They will all grasp it in time so don’t get frustrated! And as always, everything can be taught on the ground first!
About Meghan Truppner
Meghan Truppner is a highly sought-out dressage trainer and instructor based in the heart of Area II who successfully rides and competes in pure dressage through the Prix St. George level and has a diverse client base made up of dedicated dressage and event riders. Her abundant enthusiasm and positive way of teaching makes her enormously popular among her students, which has brought much success to her riders bringing up young horses under her guidance.
To learn more about Meghan and her program, please visit her Facebook page.