Last Updated on March 4, 2022 by Allison Price
Horses are first taught leg-yield as a lateral movement. It is an effective movement for novice horses as well as advanced horses. It helps horses learn to move away and through their bodies. It is also useful for introducing young horses to the outside rein, by teaching them how to push the inside leg aid into the rein.
What is a Leg Yield?
Leg-yield refers to lateral movements in which horses travel both forward and sideways simultaneously, while maintaining the correct two beat movement in diagonal pair. Leg-yields require that the horse has his shoulder leading, and that he remain straight throughout his body with only a slight bend in the opposite direction to the direction of travel.
Leg-yields can only be used in Elementary dressage tests. However, they are still used in warmups by higher-level riders because it prepares horses for higher-level movements such as halfpass.
How do you perform leg-yielding?
Communication between the outside and inside aids is required for the aids in the leg yield. The inside leg requires the horse’s side to be turned away from the leg. While the outside leg requires the horse to keep the pace and continue forward, the outside leg asks for the horse to bend to the side. The inside rein requires slight flexion in the other direction of travel, while the outside rein maintains straightness and tempo while keeping the shoulders up and the rein from slipping through the rein.
The rider should balance with his shoulders in line with the horse’s. To allow the horse to move through his ribcage more easily and encourage suppleness, the outside hip of the rider should be exposed.
The inside leg is still on the girth, with the outside leg slightly below the girth. The horse will be sent into the outside rein connection if it begins to give from the inside leg. The outside aids must be active to keep the horse moving forward. Pressure on the outside leg aid should be maintained and half halts down outside rein. Half halts by the rider on the outside rein will help keep the horse stable on his outside hind leg while he moves sideways. Outside aids will prevent the horse’s fall to the outside and keep them straight while they move.
How to teach your horse to walk on its hind legs
It is best to teach a horse how to walk, as it is easier for them, for the rider, and for the horse to grasp what you are asking.
Use center line for leg-yielding in walk
The leg-yield should be introduced on the middle line. This is the same as in a dressage trial. It is easier for horses to do it from the middle line to the side of an arena, as they naturally want the track to go back. Move from the center line to the diagonal marker, asking for a little counterflexion. Then, allow the shoulders to lead you and push them into the outside rein.
Make your leg-yields steeper
Gradually increase the leg-yields as your horse becomes more confident, responsive and comfortable with your aids. As they gain strength in this area you can make their body parallel to yours by allowing them to move in the opposite direction.
Leg yield in trot
Once you are confident in your aids and the horse’s response, you can ask for trot on either rein. Begin with a simple diagonal crossing and then gradually increase the steepness of the leg-yields.
*Teaching a young horse how to leg-yield is easier if the angle of the horse and the steepness are not as steep.
Avoid these common mistakes
The most common mistake people make when it comes to the leg-yield, is leading the quarters. This is not only difficult for the horse, but also incorrect. When practicing this movement, remember that your shoulders should always be in front and your body should be slightly bent. If the horse loses the cross and the movement becomes complicated, it is worth riding a 10m circle to get the balance and suppleness of the inside leg back. The horse will then be able to return into the leg-yield and give the outside rein a half stop before asking for the leg yield once more.
Leg-yield is an essential movement in dressage as well as for the education of horses in other disciplines. For all sports, elite and low, lateral work and strength in your horse’s core are essential. This creates suppleness and makes your horse more responsive to your aids. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to improve your showjumper’s flatwork or start your dressage career. You can learn to leg-yield and have a horse that is more responsive out hacking.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!