Introducing Leg Yield
Lateral work is important because it helps to keep your horse supple. Make lateral work a regular part of your horse’s exercise programme to help keep him supple and moving freely.
The movements can seem a bit scary if you haven’t done them before but if you break them down into bite-sized pieces, they’re achievable for anyone.
Start at the walk so that both you and your horse have time to think about the movement. You can make sure you get your aids right and the horse is introduced slowly into it.
When you introduce a new movement, make it easy and don’t worry about technical positioning, how much angle you have or how far you move across. Just focus on asking your horse to step away from your leg while making sure you maintain balance and rhythm. Once he understands what you’re asking of him, then you can start working towards making it more technically correct
Leg-yield requires your horse to move forwards and sideways, with his shoulders leading, head flexed away from the direction of the movement and his body straight.
It should be introduced as a first lateral movement because it gets your horse used to bending around your inside leg. It also helps to keep your horse supple, so is good for horses at all stages of training. It can and should be started really early in your horse’s training
- apply your inside leg on or slightly behind the girth to push your horse over
- move your outside leg behind the girth to keep him straight and maintain forward movement
- feel your inside rein in a squeezing action (not pulling) to ask for a little flexion to the inside – you should just be able to see your horse’s nostril
- support your horse with your outside rein to prevent him falling out through his outside shoulder but don’t fix it. The hands should breathe with the horse
Your body position
To keep it simple position your belly button and your inside hip towards the direction of the movement. Remember that your hips and shoulders should mirror the position of your horse’s hips and shoulders
First in walk then in trot, turn down the three-quarter line and ride straight. Move your horse’s shoulders slightly to the outside, then ask for leg-yield, gently riding him forward and across from your inside leg.
Initially, keep the angle of your leg-yield shallow – if it takes the whole length of the school to reach the track from the three-quarter line, then that’s okay. You want him to learn to move over in a balanced manner. Remember, though, that it’s important that your horse keeps moving forward throughout the leg-yield – don’t stop going forwards to go sideways.
Ideally he will move parallel to the outside track but just a little bit leading with his shoulder
If your horse…
- Falls to the outside track, ride forward down the arena and straighter, with less angle
- Goes quarters first, exaggerate the shoulders leading and allow him to fall onto his outside shoulder. Then bring his shoulders back to a more correct position
- Outside Rein don’t under estimate the use of your outside rein