Classical Riding Tips: The turn on the haunches
by Nancy O'Neill (aka M'Lady
Shall We Dance? The turn on the
Can horses turn in place? What if you’re stuck on a narrow trail and need
to turn around? What if you want to participate in the period dance classes and
need to turn around without clobbering the horses around you?
Turn on the haunches is a foundation movement. Foundation in that for the
horse, it helps develop the hind muscle grouping and tempo of movement with
utilizing the *lightness of the forehand*. For the rider, it utilizes the
coordination of seat, hands, legs. Once mastered and further into your training,
you will use similar command for a canter pirouette.
Foundation principle...perfect practice makes perfect.
How to practice a turn on the haunches
- From the halt: sit in classic position, heels, hips, shoulders in
straight line, back straight and supple (do not arch, stiffen or otherwise
lock your lower back!), pick direction you want to turn (we’ll go to the
outside hand stays closed in halt position (this will be the left hand),
inside hand (right) will flex open and close or if need be very gently guide
to right (try not to pull or yank, should not move hand more than 2” towards
your belly) .
- With your seat: look the direction you want to go, if you can close your
eyes and feel this, you will notice that your seat should “twist” towards
the right, left side of pelvis pushing forward, right side pushing
backwards. Even pressure.
- With your outside leg (left) close your whole leg, pelvis to heel (make
sure your heel stays DOWN, foot forward), think about closing your leg
“around” your inside leg. Your inside leg (right) will stay down and
stationary. Remember to sit UP and not lean forward (you will get a turn on
the forehand if you do that!).
- Now, if you have done everything correctly, your horse should “walk” his
front legs around his back legs..so that the back legs only move in the size
of a large platter. If your horse fusses with his head, check your hands. If
it falls to the outside, check your inside leg is still, outside leg is
closing consistently. Once you have the movement correctly, strive for
regularity, rhythm. Try it to music, nice 4/4 tempo.
“A dancer really dances well when he does so with enthusiasm and not when
he is forced to perform.” Xenophon
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