Leg-yield exercise to help with straightness
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 09:16 AM
This exercise is for horses that already know how to do a leg-yield. However, some horses even though step sideways quite willingly always load their outside shoulder more and a rider can feel how steps with outside leg are heavier and a horse does not appear completely straight or light in his shoulders. Another benefit of this exercise is good preparation for introduction of a half-pass.
The best way is to start this exercise in walk. When the horse has developed better balance in walk you can progress to trot and even canter.
  • Start with nice forward and round walk. In preparation ride a few 10 m circles, focusing on the quality of walk, amount of energy in the steps and bend. You should feel more horse under your outside leg and seat than under your inside leg. Nice softness in inside rein which is just slightly open and kept no higher than outside rein, or even slightly lower. Good elastic connection on outside rein.
  • Ride a half 10 m circle in the corner, this will bring you to the center line. If you were on the left rein and your horse is bent to the left ask for a leg-yield to the left. Do not change your horse's bend or flexion. Do not try very hard to keep it neither. Your horse will be bound to loose it after a few steps. But these few steps are what we are after. Because you started leg-yield with the bend into the direction of the movement which is left in our example your horse will not be able to load his left shoulder. He will have to lift it in order to step sideways. This is what we are teaching him.
  • Do not continue leg-yield as soon as you lost the balance and he started leaning more on the left shoulder. Ask him to go forward. The point is of teaching him a different feel and a different balance not how many steps you can make. With practice he will get better. If you start pushing him and correcting him now he will become defensive, stiff and sorrow. Your job is to put him into situation where he can figure out for himself.
  • You can arrange these half circles in such a way that you always have room to turn in the same direction. Or, you can alternate left and right. Remember, if your horse likes to load one shoulder more than another practice more into the direction of the heavy shoulder. For example, your horse is heavy on the right shoulder (many horses are) you need to practice more on the right rein.
  • Pay attention to how your horse starts to loose his balance. It is very valuable information about his strength, suppleness and weaknesses.
Happy riding...
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