Work in hand. Leg-yield. III
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, April 24, 2008 08:10 AM
The initial phase is over when:
  • your horse has figured out what exactly you want
  • he knows how to do it
  • he can continue on his own for several steps
  • he doesn't get upset if corrected
  • he feels safe and content executing steps forward and sideways
Now we need to polish things and create straightness. If you have been using a halter put a bridle on. You need to put reins over his neck like you do for riding. Lets imagine we are working on the left side of the horse. You keep the same body position as before which is half-facing your horse. Your left hand holds the left rein very near the bit and your right hand holds the whip and the right rein. Right rein comes to you from other side over the withers like a pulley. Take up the right rein to create a nice contact with the right side of your horse's mouth. Your right arm is stretched along side of your horse's body. The whip is an extension of your arm. You must be able to touch your horse if needed with the whip without disturbing the contact on the right rein. On the other hand, you must be able to half-halt on the right rein without accidentally touching your horse with the whip.
You ask your horse as before to step forward and sideways. Only now your right hand has a double role. It is working the whip and keeping contact on the right rein half-halting it if necessary to keep him straight. Straight means that he is stepping sideways symmetrically with his front and hind end and his body does not have a bend. Especially pay attention that he does not bend his neck in front of the withers collapsing on the outside shoulder. Do not forget to work your horse from the other side.
Side-reins may be very helpful for this work. Side-reins help to keep your horse straight without much work from you. And they are very useful in some situations. For example, very crooked horse, unexperienced person, working in hand after lungeing. But do not think that side-reins will fix everything. Apart from that they can create new problems. Besides, later on you will not be able to use them for shoulder-in or travers in hand. So, you must learn how to work in hand with regular reins.
If you are new to this work spend some time watching yourself. Ask youself the following questions:
  • Do I keep my body position correctly?
  • Can I walk the chosen line?
  • Where am I looking?
  • Can I walk with the same even tempo?
  • Can I use my left hand independently of my right one?
Remember you need to change direction and work your horse from his right side. If you are right-handed person you will find it difficult to synchronize everything. Do not get discouraged if progress slow or unnoticeable. Just keep practicing and weeding one mistake after another and one day you will be surprised that you and your horse can actually leg-yield without much difficulty.
As soon as you can leg-yield your horse along the wall start changing the line of travel. You can do head toward the wall, haunches toward the wall, centerline, diagonal, half-circles, big circles... On a circle line allow some bend through the body by softening slightly with outside rein and touching with the whip the inside side of the horse instead of the haunches. This will prepare your horse for shoulder-in in hand.
Happy riding...
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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