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Can't Turn Right

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  • Can't Turn Right

    I have been having issues turning right on my mare. My trainer can turn her right, her tack fits, her mouth is fine, but I can't turn right. She surges sideways and I can only spiral her inside to stop her. Turning left is a breeze, I can turn with no rein, inside rein, outside rein, whatever. But I cannot turn right.

    First off, how do you turn right? Inside leg back, inside leg forwards, inside leg on hard, inside leg on gentle? Outside leg back, outside leg forwards, outside leg on hard, outside leg on soft, outside leg not on? I want to know what you do to turn, and what you do if your horse won't turn and runs sideways.

    I first open my inside rein. Then I use my inside leg while my outside leg goes back and I push gently and then hard with it. I lay my outside rein across the side of her neck to the center of her withers, and look across the arena. She then pulls her head up, and surges sideways.

    Do you have other techniques for turning? I'm stuck, and I know it's something I'm doing. Should my outside rein be opening? Closing? Across the neck?

    I don't have this issue in the walk, but I have it sometimes in the canter.

    Please help.

  • #2
    It's you. We have dominant and weak sides like any other creature. On my weak side I collapse my torso so instead of bending in that direction I end up pushing the horse into a counter bend in order to stay under my crooked a$$

    Are you riding with someone who can look at you, or riding with mirrors? I end up having to do scarecrow exercises on the horse (arms straight out and turning left and right in the saddle to try to develop more symmetry). Lunge sessions work well here too.

    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


    • #3
      You say you are pushing hard with one of your legs??? Which leg? Why are you pushing? When you say your horse surges sideways...is this sideways toward the left, or sideways toward the right? What is your left elbow and hand doing?


      • #4
        I was convinced my mare was some sort of stroke victim... sadly, it's me...

        Lots of circles and spiral-in/out at the trot. Start at 20m, spiral in to as tight as you can without losing rhythm and bend. It'll be like 10m over 5 circles. If you feel yourself losing it, go back out to 20m until you get the bend back. I worked on this all.last.summer. The reward paid off!

        Now, we go back to our spirals this month...

        Don't get frustrated! You are not alone!
        Steppin Not Dragon "Bella"
        Top Shelf "Charlie"
        Check out the Military + Horses fb page!


        • #5
          Also -- turn your torso in the direction you want to go, and drop your right shoulderblade down and back. This is one of my big issues with turning right on my mare; my left side is so stiff that it is actually hard for me to turn my body to the right, so instead I was using an indirect inside rein -- pulling my right hand toward my bellybutton.
          You have to have experiences to gain experience.

          1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


          • #6
            Sounds like the dreaded fall through the outside shoulder black ice skid that some horses are expert at.... The first thing you have to do is steer out of the skid by using your left rein to straighten out the horse (sort of like turning into the skid to straighten out a car) lol. Then, there are a myriad of ways of dealing with this...sit up straight..don't lean, don't twist, not too much leg...with your inside rein (without throwing away your outside rein), you can turn your inside hand like you are turning a key in a lock (to the outside)...don't open the rein..stay connected but steady and light...just turn your wrist. You can also bring your inside hand in the direction of your belly button...it is the angle that is important and don't pull (your shoulders are parallel with the horses shoulders) so that means that when a horse turns right at the canter, if you twist your body to the right so that your left shoulder advances ahead of your right shoulder your horse will pop out on the left, so you have to keep your left elbow back at the waist but following and your right elbow, hip, and hand which will be slightly ahead and leading the diagonal (just like the horse on the right lead) with you following with the movement. When a horse is cantering to the right, the right side is the forward part of the diagonal of your shoulders and the horse's shoulders. Remember to look in the direction you are going. You can try this on the ground by yourself, i.e., canter around in circles with a right or left lead yourself (no horse) and see what position your body needs to be in when you are on the horse. I'm sure someone will immediately contradict what I have just said...lol


            • Original Poster

              I can't really turn..at all. Let' say I'm heading down the long side towards the right, and I want to turn. I turn, and then she heads sideways. All I can do is spiral the the halt to stop. I can't even do a circle.


              • #8
                Fairtheewell has it

                My weak side the left ALSO shows up in the right turn (yay), and I usually end up with a counter bend as well for correction which really is only correcting a horse that is responding to my crooked seat so...
                ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                • #9
                  Sideways to the left? If so, you have to turn her to the left (make her straighten out) for a few strides, then...try the above if you can.


                  • #10
                    Yes, it is fairly common and maddening...lol


                    • #11
                      Is she surging left or right? When you say you spiral to a halt which way are you turning?

                      It's definitely a rider issue, but one you can fix. When I have trouble doing something one way and not the other I set us up to do one side then the other in fairly rapid succession and I try to feel what I am doing differently in each direction. Then I try to do what I'm doing the good way when going the bad way and most of the time I get an instant improvement.


                      • Original Poster

                        So I shouldn't use much leg? So while I'm going down the longside, what should I do to prepare? What if my mare braces and throws her head up? (I ride in a double jointed snaffle with no noseband. Nothing complicated) Should I first use my legs? Or first use my reins? Or one rein? I know it seems like I'm asking you to describe every step, but I feel like I'm missing something.


                        • Original Poster

                          **I spiral right. She surges left, outside. Sometimes she'll yank her head outside and raise it up high. Then all I can do it stop her to prevent her from careening into anyone.


                          • #14
                            Not too much inside rein pressure..just enough to direct her...think about guiding her to the right in the spiral...position your legs (outside leg slightly behind the girth, inside leg on the girth...but don't "apply" leg pressure. If she pops the shoulder out to the left and/or throws the head, etc., use your outside rein (left rein) to straighten her for a couple of strides to rebalance her and start again to the right...do it slowly but forward. Keep the turn big and gradual. Take time to decrease the circle..her body should be in the same arc as the circle as it gets smaller..when you "enlarge" the circle, apply a little inside leg, but keep her looking to the inside as you float gradually out to a larger circle. Take your time. Make small movements. When in doubt, make her go straight ahead....then try again. That exercise is sort of like us doing sidebends, and the outside muscles, etc., have to stretch...sometimes that is uncomfortable for the horse particularly on one side, so just take your time.


                            • #15
                              "Should I first use my legs? Or first use my reins? Or one rein? "

                              You always have to use leg (seat) first (i.e., apply gas to steer the car), then direct with rein(s). You can think..."apply a little leg AND then right rein, supported by steady elastic outside left rein (very important to learn not to throw away the outside rein...it is a counter-intuitive dressage thing, and it needs to be practiced). The horse has to "accept" contact on the outside rein on both sides by exercises such as changing direction...when your horse pops through the outside shoulder and throws its head, it is evading that outside rein.


                              • #16
                                What I found that works is to push the horse foreward and just ride out any attitude and then to actually use my legs and prepare for turning in advance instead of using a lot of rein. That way this does not result in jerking. If she still does it quickly correct her and make her move out. Hard to explain but my evil Morgan mare is the queen of crabby attitude and doing this exact thing you describe and the thing that helped was to carry a crop and to move move move. And then just using gentle correction instead of jerking the horse's head the opposite way.
                                Also check your horses back and get the vet/chiro out as needed.


                                • #17
                                  Just to be clear... no "jerking" suggested here...just sayin'.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by fairtheewell View Post
                                    Just to be clear... no "jerking" suggested here...just sayin'.
                                    Yep that's clear. I should have used a better choice of words. I basically suggest her not to over check on the reins constantly or fight heavily with the reins just incase that's what she's doing out of habit.


                                    • #19
                                      I have nothing to add to these wonderful suggestions other than the title of your thread immediately made me think of Zoolander! LOL You're just like him!! Although he can't turn left! You're just not an ambi-turner! :-) Sorry I couldn't resist! Back to the good advice! :-D
                                      Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.


                                      • #20
                                        First of all, you do not use your legs per se. What should be happening is that your stirrups need to be correctly weighted for the movement at hand. When the horse turns correctly, your leg will fall by gravity onto the correct side, if you and your horse are not crooked. If you know what correct weight aids are, then you can deliberately use a greater amount in order to better help straighten your horse. Your post indicates that you are no where near being able to control your weight aids yet. Your horse is also extremely crooked, and probably your instructor is having you work with your reins too short for the horse's level of ability. This also means that your upper torso is being pulled forward, and your seatbones are coming off the saddle. These things definitely negate any attempt for correct weight aids.

                                        Your first goal is to be able to turn you horse while in walk. Let's say that you are walking down the long side in a clockwise direction on a straight line. You should have your ribcage raised. Take a deep breathe, and hold it. Feel that ribcage raise? Feel how your shoulder blades move closer to your spine? That is called "opening your chest," but your need to do that without holding your breathe, but only by keeping your shoulder points elevated. Pay attention, pay attention to where your shoulder blades are in relationship to your spine.

                                        Now, your body in the saddle should remain upright with your buttocks tucked under just slightly. Wait! Are you in a forward seat saddle instead of a dressage saddle? If so, your stirrups won't be quite right if your have them too long. Take your feet out of the stirrups, and just let your legs hang long. Now bend your knees just slightly, but lift your toes. Allow your body to walk with the horse...left, right, left, right. Feel the swing of the motion.

                                        Now if you are sitting correctly for this direction, your left leg should feel just a hint farther back than your right leg. Not "behind the girth" per se, but just a hint more rearward. What you are probably feeling is that your right groin area is firmly against the saddle and your left groin is not. Your left groin needs to be in contact with the saddle for your aids to be correct, and this is a difficult thing. Keep in mind that the turning of the horse needs to come from that area...the groin, not the lower leg. You want to keep the horse's body equally between your groins.

                                        Can you tell yet which of the horse's hind legs is moving forward within the stride? If so, as the horse's outside hind moves forward lift your right rein. Put it down again as the horse's right hind come forward. Make sure your left hand keeps its thumb on top...maybe even a hint of turning that hand toward the outside to help firm the hand in the correct position.

                                        Now normally, for making the turn, with a horse that is not crooked, you would just turn your upper torso inward a tiny bit, looking the direction of travel. But, your horse's body is already turned too much, so if you turn this way, it will put too much weight into your right stirrup. As you go to turn, you are also losing your left shoulder and allowing it to pull away from your spine. Turning your left hand slightly toward the outside will help better stabilize your left shoulder.

                                        There is already too much weight in your right stirrup, so you need to correct your stirrup weightings slight in order to turn. The amount by which your horse's body is rotated one direction or the other is called lateral bend. Your horse, because of the crookedness is bending its torso by too great a degree to the right, so on a right hand turn, you need to reduce the bending. Normal horse on a turn requires more lateral bend, which is your normal aid, but when you have to deal with a crookedness issue, you need to analyze what is wrong, and fix it accordingly. Aids are not the same by rote all the time. You must use the aid the straightens your horse, so that is why I am telling you what I am.

                                        So now you are going to turn. Release your right rein forward and lift it. Keep your left shoulder blade close to your spine, and step more deeply into your left stirrup. This might require a deliberate additional leg aid with your left leg. You need to use your whip on the horse's right side to keep the horse's right hind leg really coming through. The contact on your left rein must stay very firm...not pulling, but very firm.

                                        Continue to lift the right rein and take it back, lift forward, take back in time with the horse. Don't try for a full circle, but only a quarter circle, before going straight again. When you can do a good quarter turn, then try for more of a circle. The important thing is to keep your left shoulder blade back your right rein released and slightly forward, and the horse's right hind coming under better.

                                        I hope some of this helps. Reading a direction on how to do something is not the same as having someone who is knowledgable right there seeing what is incorrect. If your instructor cannot see what is wrong, and help you fix this which is not a really horrible problem, then you might want to look around for a different instructor that is more attuned to the rider's position in the saddle.

                                        However, if you are riding a forward seat saddle, or an all purpose saddle, any fix will become more difficult unless you actually get a dressage saddle with its different balance point.