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Leg Yield Troubleshooting

Trainer Jane Savoie explains how to work through leg-yielding challenges.

By Holly Caccamise | September 2013 Extra

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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
Video: Leg Yielding Tips  for the Dressage Horse

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