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Teach your horse to turn


A serious issue for many riders is to ride perfectly round circles. The natural asymmetry of the horse doesn’t make circles easy.

Most horses are bend to one side in the body, so if they are left bend, it’s difficult to turn to the right and if they are right bend, it’s difficult to turn to the left.

Instead of ‘turning’ they often choose to ‘fall’; they choose to lean on the inside shoulder or fall over the outside shoulder.

Now there’s a huge difference between ‘falling’ and ‘turning’ whilst riding on a circle and we need to prevent a horse from falling in or over his shoulders.

To do so we need to teach a horse to turn.

Falling on the inside shoulder

teach-a-horse-to-turnWhen my horse Maestro was younger it was almost impossible to turn to the left,  because his ‘natural’ bend was to the right.  Therefore he either refused to turn or he fell in to the left like a motor cycle.

The reason why it’s so difficult to ride a nice round circle both on the right as on the left rein, is the natural asymmetry of the horse.

Because when the natural lateral bend in the body is for example a right bend, as with Maestro, it’s especially difficult to make a circle to the left, because of the short muscles on the right side.

If a horse can’t or won’t bend his body, the horse has the tendency to lean or fall in like a motor cycle instead. This is called vertical imbalance.

Therefore it’s one of the most difficult things for a horse but also one of the most important things to teach to a horse: to bend his body to both sides and to teach a horse to turn.

So there’s a huge difference between ‘falling’ and ‘turning’.

Only when a horse can give you the bend to the opposite side of his natural asymmetry, he will be able to make nice round circles.

Falling over the outside shoulder

falling-outSo a few years ago Maestro was extremely right bended and he was left handed and his right hind leg was much more pushy than his left one. As a result of this ‘natural asymmetry’ in his body and limbs, his center of mass shifted towards his left front leg.

When we started to trot and canter on the circle to the right the centrifugal forces came in 😉 so his tendency was to make the circle to the right bigger and bigger.

With Straightness Training Maestro’s body and limbs developped symmetrically and with more equal use of his body and limbs he learned to keep his center of mass in the middle and to step under this point of weight with his inside hind leg. With his supportive hind leg he could not only carry himself in a better way, but he could also carry me properly.

Only when a horse can keep his center of mass in the right position and he can support himself with his inside hind leg, he will be able to turn and keep his balance on nice round circles.

To teach a horse to turn, we need Straightness Training!

I’ve been doing Straightness Training for a long time and now you can learn from the ‘mistakes’ I made along the way, to fast-track yourself to your riding goals.

Join My Free Training

Jump on over to my free training were you get a three-step process for implementing Straightness Training in your training sessions right now.

Watch two videos and download your free eBook about the ST Exercises which will help you put the information into action right away:

4 thoughts on “Teach your horse to turn

Comment author said

By Linda Ketteridge on 25 October 2015 at 02:43

Everything I have read so far clearly describes the issues I have with my gelding. Understanding is the first hurdle, now learning how to help him is the journey.


Comment author said

By libby on 10 November 2015 at 23:26

in the three keys do you mean in succession or ‘incoherent’ you say ‘incoherent but it may just be a mistake on my part? Thanks, Libby
adjective: incoherent

(of spoken or written language) expressed in an incomprehensible or confusing way; unclear.
“he screamed some incoherent threat”
synonyms: unclear, confused, muddled, unintelligible, incomprehensible, hard to follow, disjointed, disconnected, unconnected, disordered, mixed up, garbled, jumbled, scrambled; More
rambling, wandering, discursive, disorganized, uncoordinated, illogical;
inarticulate, mumbled, muttered, stuttered, stammered, slurred;
“a long and incoherent speech”
antonyms: coherent, lucid, intelligible
(of a person) unable to speak intelligibly.
“he was incoherent with sentiment”
synonyms: delirious, raving, babbling, hysterical, irrational
“Melanie was incoherent and shivering violently”
antonyms: lucid
not logical or internally consistent.
“the film is ideologically incoherent”


Comment author said

By Deb on 15 March 2016 at 01:45

I think what was meant is that the first three keys need to be trained together “in coherence” – ie., coherently; is that correct Marijke?

I love this straightness training concept – my horses are already understanding the idea. How long does it usually take for the short muscles to stretch and the long muscles to contract, if a horse has been strongly “bended” one way or the other his whole life?


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 18 March 2016 at 14:01

Yes, you are right Deb, I say ‘in coherence’ in a specific video Libby is refering to, she’s hearing ‘incoherent’, but I’m saying ‘in coherence’ 😉 ; “Lateral bending (key 1), forward-down (key 2) and stepping under (key 3) are closely connected. One cannot exist without the others and the three keys must be trained in coherence.”


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