Lateral exercises on a hack

Without access to a school, training your horse to perform lateral movements can seem a difficult task. Here, Rosalind Canter explains two simple exercises that you can try next time you’re out hacking. 

Exercise 1: Leg yielding

Leg yield is where your horse is moving forwards and sideways at the same time. His body has to remain straight throughout the movement and, as Rosalind explains, this is where hacking can come in handy.
“Parallel lines, such as those you encounter when riding down a track or lane that’s surrounded by hedges or a fence, can be a good way to ensure your horse is staying straight when you’re first teaching him to leg yield.”
While his body is straight, your horse should have a slight flexion in his neck, so that his head is facing away from the direction he’s travelling in.

How to ride it

Next time you come across a quiet lane or track when you’re out hacking, try these steps with your horse.
(For this example, you’ll be starting on the left, leg yielding your horse to the right.)

a)    Move over to the left side of the track and sit up straight. Begin to half-halt your horse, bringing your left leg slightly behind the girth to push him over.

b)    Use the parallel line of the lane to ensure that he’s crossing his legs over to move to one side, not just drifting.

c)     Put your weight into your left seat bone and keep your right leg pushing your horse forward.

d)    Use your right rein to guide him over in the right direction. Use your left rein to flex his head slightly to the left.

e)    Once you get over to the other side, try leg yielding back over to the right again.

Once you’ve mastered this in walk, try it in trot. Parked cars also make great obstacles to leg yield your horse around, so give it a try next time you’re walking down a quiet road. 

Exercise 2: Shoulder-in

A grassy strip provides a great spot to check your horse for straightness. It’s an ideal place for practicing lateral movements such as shoulder-in as you can easily tell whether your horse’s hindquarters are keeping in line or swinging out.
Shoulder-in supples your horse and helps with controlling the forehand. As he moves forward, he should bend slightly around your inside leg, bringing his near fore onto the inner track. Before you attempt this exercise, make sure he knows how to collect his canter and understand the aids for half-halt. 

How to ride it

This example brings his right shoulder in.

a)    Canter steadily down the centre of the grassy strip and collect your horse by half-halting.

b)    Bring your weight onto your right seat bone, turning your body to the right.

c)     Keep your inside leg on the girth and bring your outside leg back slightly to prevent your horse’s hindquarters swinging out.

d)    Your outside rein serves to control the angle.

Ride a few steps of shoulder-in and then ride straight. The grassy strip will act as a guide, so use it to check his position is correct and he isn’t drifting or swinging his hindquarter out.