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Understanding leg yield and how to ride it perfectly


  • If you’re wanting to perfect how to ride leg yield, then you need to understand the movement first. Leg yield is a basic lateral movement in which a horse travels both forward and sideways at the same time. It’s commonly found in many dressage tests and is a useful schooling tool. It is one of the first lateral movements that riders typically teach their horses.

    What is a correct leg yield?

    The horse should show a slight flexion of the poll away from the direction in which he is travelling in a leg yield. The inside legs should cross in front of the outside legs. The shoulders should be slightly in advance of the hind quarters.

    Why do I need to know how to ride it?

    Even if you are not required to ride leg yield at the level you are competing at in dressage, it is a very useful lateral movement to use within your training sessions. If you are looking to introduce half pass and shoulder-in, leg yield is a good place to start. It is also useful for trying to get your horse to become more supple, straight and balanced.

    If you are looking for further training and schooling ideas, why not sign up to Horse & Hound’s eight-week e-training plan to give your training focus and perfect your flatwork basics? Find out what is involved…

    How to ride leg-yield

    If you or your horse are unfamiliar with this movement, practise it first in walk. This will help you both understand the aids for leg-yield before you increase the pace.

    • Establish a good, active and balanced pace (on the left rein)
    • Apply a half-halt as you approach the quarter or three-quarter line of the long-side of the arena. Ride onto the quarter/three-quarter line
    • Put slightly more weight into your left seat bone
    • Put your left leg behind the girth and ask your horse to move sideways away from your leg towards the edge of the arena
    • Use your right rein to help control the direction of travel
    • Use your right leg to maintain forward momentum, control the angle and to prevent your horse from falling out onto his right side
    • Use your left rein to ask for a small amount of flexion, but make sure your horse is balanced between both reins
    • Once you reach the edge of the arena, straighten your horse up and ride him forward out of the leg-yield

    Half-halts can be used as needed, alongside appropriate release and praise.

    Once you and your horse are confident with the movement in walk, it can be ridden in all three paces.

    Common problems to watch out for

    • A loss of straightness
    • Too much inside bend with the horse falling through the outside shoulder
    • The horse rushes forwards away from your inside leg
    • Horse leads with his hindquarters

    Now you know how ride the perfect leg-yield, why not sign up to Horse & Hound’s eight-week e-training plan to give your training focus and perfect your flatwork basics?

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