Leg Yield Troubleshooting

Leg Yield

If you’ve gone to light, active aids with your legs (squeeze-release, squeeze-release) and you’re still not getting your 35-degree angle, you can transfer part of the responsibility for going sideways out of your right leg and into your right rein to help give the horse the idea and make him more athletic.

Make sure that your outside rein, in this case the left rein, is supporting like a side rein to keep his neck straight; then give a quick, opening right rein aid at the same time that you give a little squeeze with your right leg. Make sure you don’t bring your opening rein closer to your body; bring it directly to the right. Once you’ve used the opening rein, it’s lost its effectiveness, so you have to put the hand back in normal riding position. At that point you can open it again.

If you’re supporting enough with your left rein (to keep the neck straight), your horse will ricochet off the right rein, and his hind quarters will swing in quite dramatically to the left. Eventually you wean yourself off the opening rein.

It does three things: it makes sure you don’t end up leaning in the wrong direction; it gives the horse the idea of how much he needs to bring his hindquarters in; and it prevents you from falling into the trap of using too strong of a leg aid. And your horse mentally begins to understand, and physically he develops the suppleness to cross high up on his knees and hocks. If he never uses his body in that way, he’s not going to develop the suppleness to use his body that way, so this gives him the chance to actually do it and become more athletic.

By teaching your horse the turn on the forehand and leg-yield, he will increase in suppleness and become more athletic. It’s a great warm-up exercise for horses of any level, and will increase the quality of all of his work on the flat.

Further Reading
Leg Yield and Turn on the Forehand

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Holly Caccamise has been with Horse Illustrated and Young Rider since 2007, and in August 2019, she took over as head editor. She’s been instrumental in the production of both magazines and helped Horse Illustrated win a 2018 American Horse Publications Media Award in the General Excellence Self-Supported Publication (circulation 15,000 and over) category. Before getting involved in the editorial side of print media, she worked as an award-winning ad copywriter for Thoroughbred Times magazine. Caccamise has her MS in Animal Science from the University of Kentucky, where she studied equine nutrition and exercise physiology, and her Bachelor’s from UCLA in Biology. Caccamise has also worked as a research assistant, horse camp counselor teaching riding and vaulting, and as a top-level show groom in the eventing world, where she continues to compete her horse, Artie, at the lower levels.


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