The turn on the haunches will improve your position and will prepare your horse up for the perfect canter departure, in addition to showing your horses’s high degree of responsiveness and training. Performing a well-executed turn on the haunches will impress the judges in any western or huntseat rail event.
Important: You need impulsion. Without impulsion, your horse will be unable to make it around through the turn gracefully. For additional information which will help you in this area, see our other articles on: Forward Movement and Collection.
While you are showing, when the reverse is called there must be at least 2-3 horse-lengths between you and any riders in front and in back of you. If any riders are closer to you than 2 horse-lengths, then you should choose the half-circle reverse instead of pivoting on the haunches.
Rein Cues Used:
Inside-Direct Rein: The inside-direct rein is used to cue the horse’s front end into the turn.
Outsite-Indirect Rein: The outsite-indirect rein is used to cue the horse’s shoulders to the inside (away from the rail), and to prevent his head from turning too much to the inside.
1. Lift your inside leg away from your horse’s side and press with your outside leg just behind the girth to generate impulsion, and to keep your horse from barreling out his rib cage.
2. As he starts to step forward, pull back lightly to the inside with both reins (inside-direct and outsite-indirect), shifting his weight to his hindquarters. 3. Continue to push just behind the girth with your outside leg, keeping your upper body centered over his back.
4. Your horse’s inside hind leg should stay in place and not move, since this is the foot he pivots on. If this foot moves, adjust your rein and leg cues to keep him from either moving forward or back.
5. During this whole movement, it is important to keep squeezing with your outside leg to keep your horse’s side from barreling and to keep the impulsion alive.
6. As you come out of the turn and back to the rail, bring your hands back to neutral, so your horse doesn’t decide to back up.
This Final position is perfect to ask for a canter departure, because your horse’s weight is on the hind leg which starts the canter.