There are many benefits of riding leg-yield, but some horses find it tricker to crack than others. International dressage rider and trainer Emma Woolley explains how to get your horse thinking laterally.
The best way to teach leg-yield is from the ground first.
- Start by teaching your horse to cross his legs by moving away from the light pressure of a schooling whip held parallel to his stifle.
- Walk on his outside on the track, and on the long side of the arena flex his nose gently towards the wall using the reins
- Ask his quarters to go in off the track by holding the whip next to his stifle.
- All the while keep the walk rhythm.
- Often you won’t even need to touch your horse with the whip.
A sideways move
Once your horse is happy with this stage, you can move on to doing leg-yield from the centre line to the track, and then on the diagonal from one corner of the school to the other.
If he does all of this easily and well, you should have no problem whatsoever doing the movement under saddle, as your leg simply replaces the whip and your horse will already understand what you want him to do.
Above all, leg-yield is a suppling exercise that really helps to boost a horse’s strength and body awareness, as well as the rider’s control.
It’s used as the base of all lateral work and is incorporated into training all the way up the levels, helping to develop a quicker reaction to the sideways aid.
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