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Turnaround: Stay straight up and down

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - July 18th, 2013 - More with Les

47th in a series
Last issue, Les introduced us to turnarounds – one crossover step at a time. Here is a review of key points for the turnaround before we start exercises next issue.

Once I’ve gotten some nice crossover steps from the horse, I might ask him for two or three steps the next time, but I would only continue with the turn as long as he’s safe and comfortable, and that means his neck is soft and he’s not pulling on me. If you feel any stress in your hand from the inside rein, get out of there and fix it because that means you have a limit set on you right there. Anything that I do from that point is going to be ugly, so I’d better stop right there and fix it.

We’re always looking for that free pass to move up – and where is it? It’s in the neck! So repair, fix, test, teach, test, whatever the neck needs to make sure it’s soft. If it takes another day or two, that’s okay. You’ve got a program, and you know what you need to fix it and get back on track again.

Riding the Turnaround
Where should your weight be when you turn? You’re going to want to stay in the middle of your horse and out of his way. As you develop more speed in your turn, you’ll need to lean back a little to stay still. Once the horse gets going, if you are sitting
slightly forward with your head even a little forward of the axis of the circle, gravity will pull you even farther out there. You have too much to think about in terms of the horse’s form to worry about having to keep your body back too. So even though you’re not going to get to that speed anytime soon, concentrate at least on staying straight up and down now so you won’t have to retrain yourself later.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More with Les is a regular California Horsetrader column. Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Although Les still rides and occasionally shows, his focus is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit: www.lesvogt.com

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