Sideways to suppleness in three steps

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Lateral work is a surefire way to boost your horse’s suppleness. Dressage trainer Dan Greenwood shares a three step exercise to take your training to another level.

Riding leg-yield from the three quarter line to the track is a good exercise to incorporate into your warm up.

“It’s great for encouraging you to ride from your inside leg to your outside rein,” says Dan. “It also improves suppleness and teaches your horse to step through with his inside handle for better engagement.”

Depending on you and your horse’s level of training, you can keep it simple and ride just this first element, or add in a few extra questions.

Step 1

  1. Turn down the three-quarter line off the short side of your arena

  2. Ride straight for a few strides

  3. Turn your shoulders to the inside

  4. Ask for a little flexion at the poll to the inside

  5. Ride your horse forwards and across from your inside leg

  6. Control the speed with your outside rein

  7. Your outside leg stops your horse moving across too quickly

  8. Ride the leg-yield several times on each rein

Step 2

You can change this exercise a little and add in another step so that once you return to the track you continue down the long side in shoulder-in. Shoulder-in is also the start of teaching your horse half-pass.

“The aim is for your horse to be on three tracks – you’re bringing his shoulders in, not pushing his quarters out,” says Dan.

  1. Ride leg-yield from the three-quarter line to the track

  2. Maintaining the flexion to the inside, ask him to bring his forehand off the track

  3. Keep your inside leg at the girth and your outside leg just behind the girth to control the position of your horse’s hindquarters and stop them stepping out

  4. Your outside rein regulates the bend in his neck

  5. Your shoulders should be parallel with your horse’s. Make sure that you keep looking down the line you’re travelling

Step 3

Depending on your horse’s level of training, you can add in one final element. From shoulder-in, you’re going to ask for half-pass back to the three-quarter line.

  1. On the left rein, from shoulder-in ask your horse for a bit more bend to the inside

  2. Point his nose towards the marker in the arena that you’re riding to

  3. Your left (inside) leg stays at the girth maintaining impulsion

  4. Move your right (outside) leg behind the girth to ask him to move to the left

  5. Your inside rein maintains the bend, but without pulling, and your outside rein controls the speed

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