Leg yielding is often the first introduction many riders and horses have to lateral work as it is fairly simple. It doesn’t require any collection either, so can be a useful addition to a young horse’s training programme – although it does help ifyour horse is balanced, calm and obedient .
In the leg yield, the horse is asked to move both forwards and sideways, with the inside front and hind legs crossing over and passing in front of the outside front and hind legs.
His body needs to remain straight at all times, with a very small amount of bend at the poll, away from the direction of travel.
You know if you have the right amount of bend because you should be able to see the horse’s eyebrow and some of the nostril.
This movement can be performed in walk, trot or canter, however, the rhythm should not alter and the strides should be even in length – with no loss of energy.
What’s in it for me?
Leg yielding is brilliant for teaching the rider how the arms, legs, seat, back and brain can all work independently towards one goal – moving in two directions at once.
Many riders are taught leg yielding as the first foray into lateral work and it is a useful foundation for future lateral movements, especially shoulder-in.
It is handy for opening gates as it saves you dismounting.
What’s in it for my horse?
It teaches the horse to move away from the leg.
There is a suppling andstrengthening effect, as the muscles of the back and hind quarters have to stretch more than in normal flatwork.
What to do when things go wrong
It is easy during lateralwork to get bogged down, and it is always best to start again, so send your horse straight in a strong and positive fashion. If necessary, throw in a few transitions before having another go.
The rider needs to use the outside aids more strongly, and make sure they are not being too strong with the inside hand. Remember, you only want to be able to glimpse the eyebrow, not the horse’s entire eye!
It is important the horse remains straight. If the quarters are ahead of the shoulder, your inside leg may be too far back, or your outside leg is being a little ineffective. If the quarters are trailing, the inside leg needs to be used a little further back and the outside leg should take greater control of the outside shoulder.
This is a sign he has lost energy and may be confused. Try again, asking for deliberate steps. Carry a long schooling whip in the outside hand, as a hint.
Go back to basics, but ask an expert to check your position and application of aids.