Turn on the Forehand


When was the last time you did a turn on the forehand?  It’s probably a good idea to go back and revisit this exercise!

The turn on the forehand is a VERY IMPORTANT tool in Dressage training.  In the turn on the forehand, the horses’ hind end moves around the front end of the horse. The horse can either pivot on the inside front leg or keep the walk sequence and move the inside front leg in a very small circle.

Why do a turn on the forehand:

  • Submission – the turn on the forehand can be used to get the horse focused on the rider and can help to prevent spooking or other undesirable behaviors such as rearing or bucking.
  • Suppleness – this movement helps get the horse to stretch in the back by reaching and crossing over with the hind legs.
  • Straightness– the turn on the forehand can help to straighten the horse.  Especially when done on the horses’ stiff side.
  • To lift the back and thoracic sling muscles. In order to do a turn on the forehand, the horse has to lower and engage the hind end and lift through the thoracic sling in order to cross the hind legs.
  • More maneuverability of the horse -the front end stays in place and the hind end moves. This is very useful for opening and closing gates!
  • To educate the horse about the function of the inside leg and the outside rein.

The Aids for a Turn on the Forehand-

  1. Inside leg at the girth to push the inside hind leg over
  2. Outside rein – keeps the neck straight, controls the outside shoulder
  3. Inside Rein – for slight flection to the inside
  4. Timing of the aids:  press with the inside leg when the inside hind leg is leaving the ground, half halt with the outside rein when the outside front leg is leaving the ground.

How to introduce the turn on the forehand?

It is best to introduce the turn on the forehand with a square and making quarter turns on the forehand at each corner of the circle.  Another great method for introducing the turn on the forehand is to halt on the rail, flex the horse slightly towards the wall, and do a half turn on the forehand away from the rail.


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