The Importance of Leg Yielding

Leg yielding has may uses. In basic terms it helps to make the horse more supple, get the horse in front of the rider’s leg and connect the horse from inside leg to outside rein note.

Leg yielding is a sideways movement with the horse flexed in the opposite direction to what he is going. The front and hind legs should cross, with the shoulders slightly leading.

With young horses I tend to let the shoulder be more leading than is correct as this is easier for them and helps them gain confidence in the exercise. Once they develop an understanding I will then make them more parallel. A common fault in riding leg yield is getting too much neck bend.
This puts the horse onto the outside shoulder and forehand, they’ll also tend to want to run forward, losing rhythm as they have to learn that the leg does not just mean forward.

Aids for Leg Yield

If the rider comes down the centreline off the left rein, and wants to push the horse back to the track, you would put your left leg behind the girth to tell the horse to move sideways. As I said before the horse will tend to want to run away so consistent pressure and half halts must be repeated on the outside rein. The inside rein is just there to ask for a little bit of flexion away from the direction you are going.

Try in walk first, if all okay then have a go in trot. If you experience some sticky moments in the trot come back and re-establish in the walk.

Top Tips For Leg Yielding

  • If a horse is uneven in the rein i.e. lighter left than right, I would use leg yield as an exercise to put the horse more into the left rein by leg yield away from my right leg.
  • Think about timing of your leg aid. When you are pushing them away from your left leg for example, think about applying your leg aid with more pressure as the left hind leg is back not forward. Your aid will be more effective at this point.
  • Don’t be frightened to experiment and try not to be too worried about letting your horse make mistakes – it’s the only way they learn!

Enjoy giving leg yield a try!

Hannah

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