Leg-yielding is an exercise in elementary tests. Because it is not asked at higher levels, riders tend to practice leg-yield less often in the training.
But leg-yielding is such a nice exercise! Especially when you add some variations in it. In this article you will learn how to use leg-yielding in the training in order to obtain an increased level of obedience, of reaction to your aids, and of suppleness and straightness.
Leg-yielding as it is asked in a test
In tests leg-yielding is asked at elementary level. It is an obedience exercise where your horse is learning to move forward and sideways as a reaction to the sideways-driving aids. In a test, the exercise is usually set up from the center line toward the direction of the main track. Your horse doesn’t need to bend from the poll to the tail; he keeps his body straight except for a slight flexion at the poll and jaw away from the direction he's going. The inside leg is crossing over the outside leg. Thus when you drive with your left leg (to the right), there is slight flexion to the left, and the left leg is crossing over the right leg.
The horse is moving across parallel to the main track and its shoulders are slightly closer to the main track than its hindquarters. The hindquarters should not come closer to the main track than the shoulders.
Leg-yielding, but somewhat different
What I do differently from many riders (in the training) is the way I set up the exercise. I use leg-yielding as an exercise to control the shoulders. So I teach my horse to place its shoulders to the right or to the left, the same way I do for shoulder-in, but then during leg-yielding.
That way I get a somewhat different exercise. The horse is not staying parallel to the main track like it is asked in tests. First I let the shoulders move sideways and then the hindquarters.
I do this by shifting both hands slightly toward the travel direction. The horse must react to the movement of my hands and thus to the pressure of the rein against its neck by moving its shoulders sideways, without immediately moving its hindquarters sideways.The hindquarters shouldn’t move sideways before I ask with my leg.
Most horses have a preferred side. On one side it goes very easily and on the other side, the horse is pushing its hindquarters away. That is the point I try to seek and to improve, to loosen. Both sides should be the same eventually.
Personally, I find it more fun to surprise my horse and to put some variations in it.
From the main track towards the center line
In order to keep my horse alert, I leg yield a few steps from the main track toward the center line, thus away from my outside leg instead of away from my inside leg. After riding the corner, I ask a light flexion with my outside hand. On the left rein, I ask flexion to the right with my right hand.
Here I pay attention that poll and jaw are really loose and that my horse is not tilting his head. I place my outside leg slightly behind the girth and I drive him with my leg away from the track in the same rhythm as the posting trot. Thus I drive with my leg in the sit phase, and I keep my leg loose in the rise phase.
Zigzag leg-yield from the main track
A variation is the zigzag leg-yield. From the main track I leg yield a few steps toward the center line and at the B-E line, I leg yield back toward the main track. It is not about the number of steps but about the quality of the exercise.
Preferably a little bit, a few steps, which are good, instead of 10 meters where
my horse doesn’t move in rhythm and balance or is even stumbling.
Leg-yield in canter
Leg-yield in canter is an exercise that is hardly described, never asked in a test, and thus usually not very often used. But I love it!
Leg-yield in canter is making your horse very straight! In canter, again, I first move the shoulders and then took them sidewards forwards. During warming up, I do it from the inside track back to the main track, thus away from my inside leg. Very important is the ease with which the exercise is performed.
Do not wring and push, but always give a short leg aid and shift your hands sideways where you want the horse’s shoulders to be. Your horse must stay straight, with a supple back, loose poll and jaw, and with a slight flexion of the head away from the movement direction.
Leg-yield in canter from the main track toward the center line
When leg-yielding away from my inside leg is going well, then I exercise it also from the main track toward the center line. It is important that it is not becoming a sort of half-pas, but that it remains leg-yielding.On the left rein, I ride from the corner down to the long side. I first make sure that my horse is loose in the jaw and flex his head slightly to the right.
Then I shift both hands to the left to move its shoulders away from the main track, and last I drive with my right leg in rhythm to leg-yield to the left.
In short, leg-yield is an exercise that is only asked at elementary level. If you put some variations in, it is very nice exercise to use, whatever the level of your horse is; leg-yield in trot or counter, away from your inside or outside leg.
Thank you very much to my student Ingrid who made the exercises on the videos!
Please share your comments and experiences on this blog below! I’m looking forward to hear your feedback. Please share this article via social media!
This article may be used for magazines and websites...
.... And it's free! The only thing I’m asking is to add a link to my website and the following text. "By Hester Bransen of Riders’ feeling. More tips about improving riders’ feeling are revealed in the e-book 'The four elements of a correct riders’ position'. You can download this e-book for free on www.ridersfeeling.com."