Leg-yield and how to ride it perfectly

The leg-yield is a 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. Here's how to nail it...

What is it?

The horse should show a slight flexion of the poll away from the direction in which he is travelling. The inside legs should cross in front of the outside legs.

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, 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.

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How to ride a good leg yield

It is worth noting that if you or your horse are unfamiliar with this movement, practise it first in walk. This will help you both understand the basic aids for leg-yield before you increase the pace.

  • Establish a good, active and balanced working trot (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 guide your horse in his 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 and out of the leg-yield

Half-halts can be used as needed so long as appropriate releases and praise are used

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Want to put your schooling to the test? How about these competitions?

Common problems to look out for

  • A loss of straightness
  • Too much inside bend
  • The horse rushes away from your inside leg
  • Horse leads with his hindquarters

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