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improve leg yield

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  • improve leg yield

    I am looking for exercises or maybe just a better understanding of the mechanics of leg yield.
    I think if I understood it better I could come up with my own exercises.

    Problem, mare goes much better left rein leg yield than right rein.
    Now I know it is normal to have one better side but as a rider/trainer my job is to help her get more supple so she can go evenly.
    This is [I]my [I] problem, I can't figure out what to do to help her.
    As I try to urge her sideways she loses forward, not good.
    So maintain forward and rhythm and don't go much sideways.

    She is stiff left, doesn't like to take the right rein, I know its all connected but what to do....????

    Pls help. I get the best advice on this forum!

  • #2
    You have me totally confused on which is the problem side because it looks to me like you flip-flopped in your description.

    Obviously, the better one direction than the other is natural for all horses, and just consistently working on straightness all the time will help. If your horse tends toward bent right, you want to ask her to go straighter when you're going right and to bend more through the entire body when going left. If the horse is more bent that direction, it may leg yield better right to left, and it most likely also throws the rider to the right seatbone. Just that seatbone may keep a rider from being able to correctly ask for a left to right leg yield, as it will block the horse from properly responding to the rider. If a horse tends toward bent right, the right rein should give often.


    My horse does a far better leg yield right to left than left to right, because he's not as obedient off my left leg. If he is not responding well we return to walking turn on the forehand moving his haunches right off my left leg, and asking him to cross over in back. Once he's very light off my left leg, we return to leg yielding, and he responds correctly. Even when he's straight and I'm straight he's still always less responsive off my left leg, so it's always something to work on. I don't have to worry about the right seatbone being too weighted as much anymore. I did for a while, though, and also would think of turning left as lengthening the right side rather than shortening the right, and giving, giving, giving with the right rein. Eventually it gets a horse straighter - but it takes time, and always takes checking in.
    Originally posted by Silverbridge
    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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    • #3
      Like netg, I am unclear about which direction you are struggling with so I'll speak in generalities.

      First as you note, it's normal to have a stronger and weaker side. And you must get muscles to a somewhat depleted state to see new muscle development. Bearing these things in mind, when I'm working to develop strength on one side, I start with the weaker side first while the horse is fresh and work at the highest level of quality I think the horse is capable of until the horse shows signs of fatigue (usually loss of forward or balance). I switch sides, work for about 5 minutes and then return to the weaker side. Depending on the horse's level of fitness, I may do this a few times. It is like interval training. There is real training benefit to putting judicious demand (cautiously) on fatigued muscle.

      Second, a common problem I find with lateral work is not giving the horse a place to go on the opposite side. So if you are l/y-ing to the right and applying your left leg, lighten up your right thigh a bit (without disturbing your seat and posture) as if you are opening a door. The horse will be encouraged to flow towards the lighter side.

      Don't worry about bend that much, too much bend shuts down forward progress. And don't worry about how wide a sideways step your horse takes at first. You can ask for more as she becomes more balanced.

      I find leg yielding at the trot to be easier than at the walk. A good exercise to try is a l/y shallow loop. Ride a nice forward trot on the short side, develop a little collection in the corner. Coming out of the corner, think of releasing into a l/y so you come to the center line a couple of stride before X. Go straight, a couple of strides past X, l/y back the other way. Make the first l/y the tougher side. You can repeat the sequence again after the next short side. This will help her to get comfortable with shifting her center of mass laterally which is often the real struggle since l/y-s are often the first exercise that horses are asked to do so.

      All that being said, I'm not a big fan of leg yields.
      Last edited by nhwr; Jun. 11, 2013, 11:03 PM.
      See those flying monkeys? They work for me.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by colorfan View Post
        I am looking for exercises or maybe just a better understanding of the mechanics of leg yield.
        I think if I understood it better I could come up with my own exercises.

        Problem, mare goes much better left rein leg yield than right rein.
        Now I know it is normal to have one better side but as a rider/trainer my job is to help her get more supple so she can go evenly.
        This is [I]my [I] problem, I can't figure out what to do to help her.
        As I try to urge her sideways she loses forward, not good.
        So maintain forward and rhythm and don't go much sideways.

        She is stiff left, doesn't like to take the right rein, I know its all connected but what to do....????

        Pls help. I get the best advice on this forum!
        I don't think it's unusual for a horse to be "sided". How old is your horse? Is this the first time you are teaching leg yield? Many horses lose the forward when first learning leg yield, your horse is not alone! One thing that can help a lot is to post it. But post it so you are sitting when the "inside" hind moves over and cue with your leg when you are at the sitting point of your posting. In other words, go around your arena and go down centerline while posting. Posting while the outside shoulder is back means posting when the inside leg is back and is about to come up and step under the body. On centerline, post the leg yield left. Push with your right leg on the sitting phase, it should stimulate the horse to pick up the inside leg and cross over. Alternatively, change your posting diagonal and leg yield in the other direction. Posting will help keep the forward because you aren't sitting, yet you can still influence the inside leg as it comes into the air and steps under. You can also post away from the rail and to the rail, posting on the diagonal that influences the crossing leg. The best way to keep the forward travel is to leg yield only a few steps and go straight in a forward trot, then leg yield in the same or the opposite direction for a few steps and go straight. You can also post the trot on the quarterline to the rail and then ask for lengthened steps. Or the rail to the quarterline then ask for canter. The stronger and more gymnasticized your horse gets in both directions, the easier each direction will get. It does take time, though!
        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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        • #5
          It is normal for one side to be more difficult.

          With some horses I find that working it at the walk helps make it more correct. If the hind quarters lag, you can halt, and do a turn on the forehand, sharpening her to respond to your leg that way. If the shoulders lead, it could be that you are not using your outside leg.

          When you move up to doing it at the trot, first establish forward. Canter, downward transition, centerline, half halt and go, or quarter line half halt and go.
          If there is a loss of forward, check that you are not using too much hand. If there is a loss of over drop back to walk and push over in a western side pass with little forward, and a lot of over. Then ask again in the trot.

          Initially in leg yield, any over is good. I start with real greenies almost as soon as walking in a straight line is established.
          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.

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          • #6
            If you're losing forward energy during l/y make sure you're not tensing up your seat and upper body and blocking her. Don't forget you still have the outside aids as your forward driving aids.

            Boy will also get against my left leg, a couple of turns on the forehand usually takes care of that.
            Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
            Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
            "Once you go off track, you never go back!"

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            • #7
              The 30 degree head to the wall legyield can really help.

              Start with a 10m half circle back to the longside, riding toward the longside at a 30 degree angle.

              Keep the horse the same angle when you hit the wall and bring the hip down the wall. Eventually work on maintaining slight flexion INTO the direction of travel.

              This also greatly improves straightness and evenness in the reins when riding other figures, because it hones the rider's feel for where everything is, and the horse's response to the related aids.
              The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
              Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
              Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
              The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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              • #8
                People have a dominant side, too. Often they are really good with the outside rein on their dominant side, but not so hot the other way.

                That's because they throw away the outside rein on their non-dominant side, and can't give on the inside rein when it is on their dominant side. The inside rein then blocks the horse from moving forward. If there is insufficient outside rein, then the horse will pop and drift sideways through the outside shoulder. So you either get too much forward and no sideways, or you get too much sideways and no forward. So be very aware of always keeping that outside rein steady.

                Leg yielding is really all about the outside rein. So pay attention to your outside rein (the rein that is opposite the direction that you are traveling in for leg yield.) Make sure that your inside rein is not pulling back, but just keeping the bend to the inside (opposite the direction in which you are traveling.)

                Also pay attention to your weight. Horses will tend to try to move underneath you if you are leaning to one side. If you are unintentionally weighting the inside (away from the movement) then the horse will want to move toward the inside. It can be helpful for that reason to put more weight in the stirrup in the direction that you want to move to (outside.)
                "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would focus maybe on spiral in and out first, how are your circles? How is the bend? A spiral is a LY but maybe tricks us to not focus so much on the yeild part.
                  ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                  http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Leg Yield on a circle only!!

                    The problem with leg-yield as a schooling exercise (and its inclusion in tests on a straight line) is that it is, in itself, useless for developing the horse's straightness - and remember, true straightness comes from strengthening and suppling the weaker side.

                    Leg yield on a straight line was being hotly debated a few decades ago, and in my opinion it still should be. It impedes the development of the forward impulsion of the hindquarters by asking for the horse to displace the inside hind and drift outward through the shoulder. By including the straight-line leg yield in the tests, the governing bodies have misguidedly promoted its use as a developmental exercise, when really it is nothing of the sort.

                    OP, the answer to your problems is really to use exercises that will genuinely address the horse's weak side - this will develop the straightness and suppleness you seek. So, leg yield on a circle or should fore - save the straight lines for the tests only!!
                    Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Keep in mind there is little suspension in the walk (if that is where you are finding problem mostly), so x-over is not to be huge.

                      Not sure about 2 comments I've read here: 1) bend and 2) flexion into direction of travel (if I read that correctly). There is no bend in leg yield, is my understanding. And flexion should be away from direction of travel. That is, if horse is ly'ing off to the left, then flexion at poll is to the right.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yeah, lost, that is kind of how I feel about l/ys.
                        They do provide some benefit for mobilizing the shoulder though, which does contribute to developing straightness. But you can get more and better development from shoulder in, IMO.


                        Some posters above mentioned focusing on forward. I always sort of chant to myself "forward, over, forward, over" when I'm doing any lateral work to help time my aids.

                        and cyberbay is right about flexion vs bend. Sorry for being sloppy about that above.
                        See those flying monkeys? They work for me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes, nhwr, and it can also be useful for teaching very green horses to move away from the leg... and it's a good exercise for developing rider coordination at the lower levels. Sadly including it in the tests has resulted in a slew of riders who use it repeatedly as an exercise, thinking that it's somehow going to contribute to their advancement. But I'm an old grumbly woman now who remembers when there were a lot of loud, prestigious voices who spoke out against it!
                          Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Inside rein and outside rein.

                            Quote Eclectic Horseman-"Leg yielding is really all about the outside rein. So pay attention to your outside rein (the rein that is opposite the direction that you are traveling in for leg yield.) "

                            It's actually the reverse. If you are leg yielding to the left, your left rein is your outside rein, as your horse is flexed to the right. Your right rein is your inside.

                            Do not allow rein usage to overshadow the use of your seat and legs.
                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cyberbay View Post
                              Not sure about 2 comments I've read here: 1) bend and 2) flexion into direction of travel (if I read that correctly). There is no bend in leg yield, is my understanding. And flexion should be away from direction of travel. That is, if horse is ly'ing off to the left, then flexion at poll is to the right.
                              Yep, I was taught to develop the horse/test the straightness by eventually asking for flexion INTO the direction of travel.

                              I would not ride a test that way, but practicing at home we definitely test our control of the feet, shoulders and hips by seeing if we can flex slightly into the direction of travel while everything else stays the same. It very much helps to teach the rider and horse to control the shoulder with the outside rein.

                              My trainer also has me do shoulder in and occasionally ask for very slight opposite flexion, ...now there's a trip.

                              Again, not how you would ride it in the test, but legyielding a diagonal line and seeing if you can change the flexion a few steps one way a few steps the other way is a great suppling exercise (imo).
                              The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                              Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                              Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                              The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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                              • #16
                                [QUOTE=merrygoround;7030217]Quote Eclectic Horseman-"Leg yielding is really all about the outside rein. So pay attention to your outside rein (the rein that is opposite the direction that you are traveling in for leg yield.) "

                                It's actually the reverse. If you are leg yielding to the left, your left rein is your outside rein, as your horse is flexed to the right. Your right rein is your inside.
                                QUOTE]

                                Regardless of terminology (since there is no "bend" there is no inside or outside rein) the point that I am trying to make is that riders often throw away the rein in their less dominant hand and when they are moving in the direction of the dominant hand, the result is making the horse crooked and blocking the forward and sideways motion.

                                In fact, here is it is, said much more articulately than I said it.

                                http://www.artofriding.com/articles/leg-yield.html
                                "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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                                • #17
                                  Work on it in driving reins, then get back on and decide what was the problem !
                                  ... _. ._ .._. .._

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                                  • #18
                                    Can't resist!

                                    From Eclectc Horseman's link-

                                    "Performed correctly, the horse should maintain forward energy while executing small steps sideways. The forward steps should always be bigger than the sideway steps, thus preventing the horse from over-bending. The horse should also demonstrate a slight flexion to the inside during the movement. You will know the correct degree of flexion when you can see the horse’s inside lashes. When you are riding a leg-yield to the right, the inside of the horse will be his left side, which clarifies what I mean by ‘flexion to the inside”."-http://www.artofriding.com/articles/leg-yield.html
                                    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.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                                      From Eclectc Horseman's link-

                                      "Performed correctly, the horse should maintain forward energy while executing small steps sideways. The forward steps should always be bigger than the sideway steps, thus preventing the horse from over-bending. The horse should also demonstrate a slight flexion to the inside during the movement. You will know the correct degree of flexion when you can see the horse’s inside lashes. When you are riding a leg-yield to the right, the inside of the horse will be his left side, which clarifies what I mean by ‘flexion to the inside”."-http://www.artofriding.com/articles/leg-yield.html
                                      Yes, but the reason that I posted the link was for the "common faults" section which describes the overuse of one hand, jackknifing the horse which is what I was inartfully trying to describe to the OP. Personally, my brain always thinks of the inside as the side toward which the horse is traveling, hence my confusing description of the overuse of the dominant hand which results in overbending the horse in the direction opposite the direction of movement.

                                      I'm not sure what you couldn't resist? I hope that the OP finds the link to be helpful.
                                      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        This might be a useful video (Jane Savoie demistifying the leg yield): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HcA5bw2Pqs

                                        I've also heard her describe the leg yield as a way of stretching the horse's muscles (like toe-touching or yoga).

                                        I was just watching video from one of her clinics on DressageMentor.com (which reminded me that she worked on this with us in our clinic last year), where she taught head-to-the-wall leg yield (at the walk). This exercise was really, really helpful for me in teaching my gelding what I wanted him to do with his body (yes, please, actually cross your legs).

                                        Hope this was helpful.
                                        RIP Jove 1993-2016

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