Master leg yielding and other lateral movements will fall into place
Leg yielding is the most basic of all lateral movements. It is the foundation block upon which all the more advanced lateral work is based. This invaluable exercise is a great introduction to the feel of lateral work and helps the rider get used to working the horse from the inside leg to the outside rein.
Like turn on the forehand, leg yielding is an excellent loosening-up exercise. It also helps to teach a horse to respond to the rider's aids for lateral movements. Plus, leg yielding helps to make a horse straighter, more supple and full of impulsion.
Leg yielding may be taught at an early stage of a horse's training before he is mentally or physically ready for more advanced work. It can be ridden first in walk to give both the horse and rider a feel for the movement, although it is usually ridden in trot.
Before you begin leg yielding, the trot needs to be well balanced and lively. The horses's body should be straight, with a slight bend at the poll away from the direction of the movement. The horse's inside fore and hindleg should cross over in front of the outside fore and hindleg. The legs need to cross over fluently and with ease, with spring and impulsion.
Riding on the right rein, turn down the three quarter line. After a few straight strides, half-halt and apply the aids:
Apply pressure with the right leg to ask the horse to move sideways. Use your leg just behind the girth to influence the hindquarters or slightly further forward to influence the forehand.
Ask for a hint of right flexion with the rein (just enough so you can see your horse s right eyelashes).
The left leg regulates the sideways movement and, used together with the left rein, prevents the horse from bending or moving sideways too much. The left leg usually stays at the girth but may be needed slightly further back to control the hindquarters. Both legs must work together to regulate the forward movement.
Use the left rein to regulate the forward and sideways movement. It also controls the amount of bend.
(Simply reverse these aids to ride leg yield to the right.)
To begin with, ask for a few good steps at a time. As the last step is made, ride forward at an active trot, using both legs to ask the horse to go forward and straight.
Do not use the inside aids too strongly as this will cause the horse to fall out through his outside shoulder. His hindquarters can also swing out and beyond your control. Too much inside rein will cause the horse to be bent in the neck, so always think forwards and sideways.
You may see the aids given in terms of inside and outside leg, and this can be confusing. Remember that the inside always refers to the direction of bend and not the direction of travel. If the horse is bent to the left (as in leg yield to the right), the left leg and rein are your inside aids.
Here are some for you to try:
Turn down the three quarter line and leg yield back to the track. You can also try leg yielding from the track to the three quarter line. This is slightly more difficult because your horse will be more reluctant to leave the track. When you have established the movement, try leg yielding try right across the school.
Establish a 20m circle and decrease the diameter to 10m or 15m. Try leg yielding out and making the circle bigger. This is a difficult exercise but it really does make a young horse more sensitive to your inside leg.
After riding through a corner on the right rein, straihten your horse, half halt and apply the aide for leg yield to the right. Leg yield from the track to the centre line. At X straighten your horse, change your aids and the bend and leg yield left back to the track again. Then straighten up and prepare to ride through the next corner.
When you are confident that you've mastered both leg yield and turn on the forehand, try combining the two together.
First, leg yield away from the track in walk. Once your horse has moved forward and sideways for a few good steps, finish the leg yield with a turn on the forehand.
This is a super exercise -just try it and see.
It's easy to tilt your body when asking your horse to move sideways. Try to resist this temptation and keep a good position through all lateral schooling movements.