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struggling with straight leg yield

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    struggling with straight leg yield

    i'm an intro level (event) rider that is struggling with straightness in the leg yield. the horse really like to lead with his shoulder and the haunches trail behind. my instructor says hold the shoulder with the outside rein but i'm still having problems getting a straight leg yield. i'm working on leg yields because he doesn't seem to repact my leg moving him sideways. i am also doing turn on the forehand which he does pretty well. does anyone have any tips for getting a straight leg yield?

    I was thinking of posting this same inquiry last night as I'm having the same problem.
    Schooling on the trail seems to help as we nail it there, doing zig zags on about a 12' grass strip, but in the arena the haunches trail to some degree. My trainer also says more outside rein but I get the feeling that a ground person (at the walk) reinforcing the "move over sideways equally" idea would help get the correct feeling for both of us. And hopefully, carry over to the trot.


      Have you tried leg yielding with his nose to the rail? (Example: turn at A and head to the track so you meet it at an angle a little after F or K, and then hold that angle down the track, with his hips off the track, and nose on the track.).

      Another way is to ask for one step over, then one step straight, then one step over, then straight and so on.

      With my students, I find this is an issue if they are actually asking too hard, so the horse is trying to go over quicker than they are capable, so they have to get crooked. Make sure you are timing your leg aid with the horse's hind leg, and ask with a pulsing a wave pushing him over with each stride.
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


        Agree with both the above suggestions - nose to rail to get the horse really understanding moving away from your leg, and asking for fewer steps when working on the straight leg yield. Aim for a max of three steps sideways, take a couple of straight ahead steps, then leg yield back 3 steps the other way. Gradually increase the number of steps once your horse isn't anticipating and falling out through the shoulder.

        of course make sure you are controlling that shoulder with your outside rein, and controlling the haunches with your inside leg


          Are you trying it at walk first? Just checking because I've had instructors introduce it at trot and then continue to ask for the movement unsuccessfully, rather than establishing that it's there at the walk first. I find the timing of the sideways aid at rising trot to be tricky; sometimes it helps to change diagonals before asking, or if you can, sit the trot when asking for LY.

          Can you describe what you're doing to produce the LY?

          I've found visual cues helpful, such as setting up a corridor of cones on a diagonal to try to move through. Also, LY on a circle can help. Think about bringing the haunches onto an outer circle from the shoulders. If you are doing TOF in motion, this won't be much different, and then you can ride that feeling forward into a straighter LY.


            I often teach yielding to pressure laterally from the ground. I find that this makes leg yields from the saddle much easier. I'll do it while long-lining or just in hand.

            Having someone the ground assisting while you leg yield down the long side wall can be helpful too.

            I would also make sure you're carrying a proper dressage whip. You may have to make a little wake up call just behind your leg to get the hindend over


              When you turn down the center line make sure to go straight a few steps, this causes you to have use the outside rein...then try a few steps of LY then a few steps of straight. I find it gives a person the feel for how much outside rein you need. Also if the horse is not moving over, halt and side pass a few steps.
              Humans dont mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. Sebastian Junger


                I agree that you are probably asking too hard/ in a way that the horse can't respond to at that moment.

                you have to ask when you have influence over the hind leg - when it is about to leave the ground and off the ground. Asking when the horse can't physically respond causes them to try to do what you're asking by moving the shoulders ahead of the hind end.
                Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the long as its in a conservative color.


                  First question: can horse do a flawless straight leg yield for the trainer or other competent rider?

                  If so your problems are about balance and feel of aids.

                  If the horse is sticky, green, or unbalanced for the coach then it is a training issue and I would suggest work in hand

                  There is an easy way to tell the difference. Have the coach ride and watch the ride.

                  Until you know if it is rider error or a hole in training we can't really offer solutions. You can use perfect aids on a horse with a training hole and get nowhere.


                    If you are yielding off your left leg, don't forget to also use the right leg. I ask for one step over with the left leg then I use my right leg to ask him to go forward. Then repeat left leg for over then right leg for forward. This helps with keeping him straight.


                      To carry Cat Tap's suggestion a step further. When leg yielding away from your L leg, keep your R leg in "go forward" position. And use it.

                      As a training alternative, not to be used in competition, open your L hand away from the neck. But remember a proper LY requires a very slight L flexion only.
                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                        Hi Gym, you're describing two problems:
                        1 - he doesn't move away from your leg as well as you'd like him to
                        2 - you're not able to control the shoulder as well as you'd like during the leg yield

                        Trying to fix both things at once could be hard!

                        For no.1, keep doing turns on the forehand - especially walking turns on the forehand on a 8/10m volte, and also the nose-to-wall exercise (above) is good to explain to the horse to move away from leg. As others have said, make sure you use your "moving away" leg when the horse's inside leg is about to leave the ground (to make it easy, if you can feel the belly swing left-right underneath between your legs, apply the aid as the belly is moving away from the "move away" leg - just think of pushing the belly a little further than it is already going, then release).

                        For no.2, the "staircase" exercise (3 steps LY, 3 steps straight, 3 steps LY, repeat) can help to establish a better connection to the outside rein.

                        Do these exercises separately, then try to put it together again. Remember to breathe and look up, so you stay nice and centered on the saddle!


                          If you are trying to leg yield to the right, where are you looking? Try when leg yielding right to look extremely to your left - like almost looking back over your shoulder. My trainer used to stand on one side and tell me to look at him as I leg yielded away.
                          This gets your seat aligned where it needs to be to allow your horse to move. It's obviously not how you ultimately want to leg yield, just a fix for your seat, if your seat issue is the same as mine was.
                          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                            So, here's what works for me.

                            I have taught my mare that lateral movement is controlled by hand position (Shoulders), leg position (Haunches) and supportive leg/seatbone (direction). Stronger leg pressure is increasing forward and energy.

                            So If I want to leg yield off the wall, going left, I would:
                            • move both hands a bit left. Slight opening rein left opens the door, slight closing rein against the neck controls the outside shoulder.
                            • slide outside leg back and increase weight in my inside seat bone. Don't squeeze so hard you are pulling yourself onto your outside seatbone.

                            If it isn't working, I'd go back to turn on forehand and turn on haunches from a halt. Shift hands, shift shoulders. Slide leg back, shift haunches. Once that is clear, go back to the above.

                            When they really understand the positioning, it gets easy to introduce and perform most of the other lateral work. Hand and leg sets the positioning and seatbone weighting sets the direction. Change combinations to move to SI/SO/HI/HO and between the different moves.
                            The stories of the T-Rex Eventer

                            Big Head, Little Arms, Still Not Thinking It Through


                              There are a lot of great suggestions here! The bottom line is your outside aids are weak/nonexistent and your inside aids (the leg that is sending him sideways and the rein that is asking him to look slightly away from the direction of travel) are too strong - or a combination of the two. To fix this, the suggestions of do it in the walk first and go sideways, then straight, sideways then straight will help you feel how much outside aids you need. Also, someone asked if your horse already understands leg yield. If not, trying to teach you along with your horse is not a good recipe.


                                Use your outside thigh to hold the shoulder. Even move that outside lower leg forward a bit - I know, scriledge!! (SP?)..


                                  ^ Not a sacrilege, common sense.
                                  Eventually you want the horse to travel straight on its own but in training you ride the horse you have, and hope for the best.
                                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                    Lots of excellent advice above. I have been struggling with this myself lately and my trainer has been fixing me so ill share what has been my issue so you can potentially see if this too may be a contributing factor. I am right handed thus my right hand is my more sensitive and quick hand and the left hand is an idiot and slow and tends to be holding and slow to give. So I am in boot camp for the left hand I'm making great progress but its something I have to think about and be reminded about regularly t/o my lessons. It is getting loads better. Ok so I have to give with the left hand quicker and ask more gently and don't forget to keep a gentle connection in the right I tend to give with the right too quickly and am dropping the contact and thus if leg yielding in the direction going right so off my left inside leg I need to not over bend with my frustrating left hand. Coming around the corner to do that LY I have to straiten my guy in the corner then slight flexion to the left ( give right away and don't over bend) step into the left stirrup and if he is lagging with the haunches tap gently with the whip (without bringing the left hand back seriously) keep the soft contact in the right and look where I'm going and off we go. So as you can see its a bunch of coordinating events in a short time frame sheesh no one said this was going to be easy
                                    Now going to the left my problems are still the left hand and while I need to have that gentle outside rein connection it needs to be softer and more giving so maybe bring the left hand slightly more forward than I instinctually want to but it ends up being the correct feel and bend. Straiten in this corner just a bit and flex slightly to the right step into the right stirrup and just try not to ask too hard or too much. I need to trust that my guy will do what I'm asking and moving in the left if I just ask correctly and don't block him.
                                    One of my instincts as I go to LY is if I feel like the haunches are lagging I get desperate and in my desire to move the haunches over I pull back with the inside rein which blocks the movement causes the outside shoulder to bulge out and to much inside flexion which makes the haunches and inside leg even more lagging so making my problem worse.
                                    Hope this is helpful I am making rapid improvements lately and by fixing my root problem (Left hand) a lot of the movements are not the struggle they were just weeks ago.
                                    One day you'll wake up and there wont be any more time to do what you've always wanted to do. Do it NOW!


                                      One. Start in the walk, keep the horse straight, straight, straight, nose in front of the shoulders. Turn down a quarter line, ask for a step or two over sideways towards the rail.... if there is no sideways, halt. Ask for the horse to move his hip, from a halt. You have to explain it and if they don't get it, then slow it down even more. The biggest thing is, in a good straight leg yield, the walk will become more compressed and compact and you will feel the walk get more engaged. If needed tap behind the leg with a whip to say, bring the hind end, bring it now. It might get messy, that's ok, you are learning it and trying to teach the horse.

                                      two. At the trot. Again, quarter line, turn, go straight nose in front of shoulders. Don't worry about any flexion. I see people loose the shoulders because they try to get flexion, it turns into bend, and it turns into a shoulder yield, not a leg yield. Switch to the wrong posting diagonal and start to ask for the leg yield. That will help your timing of driving the horse over. Use the leg and if the horse doesn't react, bring back to walk and make the aid firm enough to get a result. Remember you are teaching/learning. It's a feeling, and you might need a new way of learning it so you can train it. That nose needs to stay in front of the shoulders though, and as soon as you loose that, you must ride forward to correct it.


                                        Original Poster

                                        wow thanks everyone, lots of tips i will try to use. i'm inclined to think it's mostly rider error, the horse seems pretty well educated. my trainer is pregnant so i can't get her to ride him to see if she can get him straight. my timing is probably not very good, but pushing the belly with the leg definently helps at the walk. what would be the best time to do it at the trot? switch to wrong diagonal and use my leg at the sit?