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Re-Introducing Lateral work.. circles or longsides?

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  • Re-Introducing Lateral work.. circles or longsides?

    So Lad and I are still knocking the rust layers off and it feels like he is very body stiff. Chiro has been called. We're waiting for an appointment.

    In an effort to work on this I have been trying to re-introduce leg yielding and general bend in his body to get him more flexible. I have done the circles in and out at walk and trot. And this was ok. Longsides were not good. I am thinking that at some point we have to dive in and work on longsides more to bring the skills back up. And to paint a clear picture, I have only asked him to yield to the rail from about the quarter line. And he gets sticky and breaks to a walk and then will yield over. He will hold the trot sometimes but he's kind of dying in his tempo and ultra focusing on "Oh I have to step over." I believe I am losing my outside "forward thrust" leg a bit as I am telling him to yield which would cause this.

    Here's another small dilemma, at the same time I have been schooling him at home without spurs, but with a dressage whip to start getting the respect back for my actual leg. And to get the strength back in my leg. So when I ask for a yield away he's still a little slow on the uptake. Should I break down and bring the spurs back or stick with it?

    Does anyone have any great exercises for this?

    Remember that even when he was in "full training" I don't think we got very far down the lateral work road. I know he could do leg yields, shoulder in, turn on haunches and forehand, but that's where we stopped. And that was 4 years ago. So he does need a second go round with these skills.

    Thanks for any and all advice.

    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

  • #2
    My go-to bending exercise are "wiggly worms", or in classier dressage terms, 10m half circles. Not exactly lateral work, but if you're looking for him to start respescting your leg again, which I definitely went through this spring, it's a great exercise. Just get a nice trot down the long rail and do a 10m half circle to the center line, one or two strides of straightness to change bend and start moving off the new inside leg, and then a half circle back to the rail. This helped my guy so much.

    Another thing to try when doing leg-yields is start off on centerline with a nice forward trot and begin your leg yield, and when you hit quarter line or if he starts losing impulsion, throw in a 10-15m circle in the direction of your bend to push him off the inside leg and gain more impulsion. This also works with shoulder-ins on the long rail.

    Hope that helps at least a little bit!


    • #3
      One of my favourite exercises is to do a weave through cones down the long side. Space the cones out farther to start off, then as it gets easier, move the cones closer together. Using the same cones, leg-yield through the cones, asking for a few steps at a time, but having to straighten and then leg-yield in the other direction through the cones, instead of bending around them like in the previous exercise.

      Another favourite of mine is starting on centreline and leg yield over, but ask for one stride, then straighten, two strides, straighten, three strides, straighten etc. until you run out of space. Again, with this exercise it helps get the horse listening to both legs, and isn't a lot of leg-yield all at once.

      Hope these exercises help!
      All that is gold does not glitter;
      Not all those who wander are lost.
      ~J.R.R. Tolkien


      • #4
        It sounds like, from what you said about carrying a dressage whip and how he "dies" in his tempo in the leg yields, that he needs more respect of your leg before you're going to get too far on the lateral work.

        Ride lots of figures (circles, half circles, serpentines, change of rein over the diagonal or across the centerline, etc) and keep him in front of your leg before you focus too much on the lateral work; it won't progress very well until the "forward" happens instantly and consistently.

        That said, you mentioned bringing the spur back... will he go forward and do lateral work without you having to use spur, so the spur is your back-up for when you need it, or will he only do those things when you use the spur? I ride my OTTB in spurs, not so much because he needs it, but because I can give a more refined, lighter aid with it and I have it as a back up. If I needed to use it every time, I'd be going back to basics and working on his respect for my leg.

        As far as the stiffness, have you tried riding a lot of stretchy circles? Those (in addition to the chiro, which you said is scheduled) helped my guy get loose a lot (he was tense, not stiff though).

        Hope that helps a little
        Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


        • #5
          well, honestly, all that is fine and great.

          but leg yield is a basic obedience exercise. It's not really lateral work. it's "hey horsie, stay straight and get off my inside leg".

          Lateral work exercises the horse's bend through the ribs and moving of the haunch. Some high school trainers don't even consider shoulder-in true lateral work because the haunch does not change.

          that all being said:

          sometimes, one rude discussion is more effective than days of lightly asking a horse to move over.

          horsie goes from, "I don't wanna, I don't wanna" to, "oh, my bad--I'll gladly move over when you ask.

          Leg yield is too remedial to have to discuss. In fact, if one of my kids comes out and resists a simple quarter line leg yield I sternly tell them to quite wasting my time--which gives them a lil wake up call and we can move on to the day's work.

          as for lateral work on the circle. I have never liked it because I guess I suck and can't do it properly. I have a hard time organizing myself for lateral work on the circle so I have always resisted.

          Then I was watching an Anky symposium and Stef said that we spend so much time trying to make the horses straight and then people do shoulder in on the circle which make no sense. He said, and I quote: "shoulder in on the circle is like killing someone".
          That made my day.
          So I find that my reasoning must be correct. hahaha!!
          Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


          • #6
            I, for one, love shoulder-in on the circle. It's a very good way to teach it to a horse. Switching between SI and HI on the circle is a good education in lateral movements, and very suppling. Beyond that, I'd say that you should work on your seat position. While they are quite nice for maintaining a forward tack, whether or not you're wearing spurs should have little bearing on his ability to perform the lateral movements. If he understands leg yield, it's time for SI. Use the whip/spurs to keep him forward, but use your seat to explain the movement.
            "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


            • #7
              Originally posted by purplnurpl View Post
              Then I was watching an Anky symposium and Stef said that we spend so much time trying to make the horses straight and then people do shoulder in on the circle which make no sense. He said, and I quote: "shoulder in on the circle is like killing someone".

              Huh. I think shoulder in on a circle is a great suppling exercise. It really engages the inside hind leg and increases the horse's collection.

              Maybe they said that because they don't really focus on the hind end. Cranking the horse's neck in from front to back seems to be one of the only things they care about. And I guess if you've got a fancy moving horse that's all you need to win nowadays.

              Em, it does sound like he is laterally stiff. Check out my latest article on exercises to improve your horse's suppleness. I would do some large, slow turns on the forehand, and nose to the wall leg yield (where the wall or fence aids you) initially until he gets more supple.

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              Last edited by lstevenson; Aug. 9, 2011, 01:12 PM.


              • #8
                I agree with purpl as far as "sometimes, one rude discussion is more effective than days of lightly asking a horse to move over".

                I was having some leg-yield issues a few weeks ago, and my coach was incredulous that I had let it become an issue. She immediately instituted 10 minutes of full pass at the walk as part of our every day warm-up. Within two days, my trot leg-yields were up to par for my dressage test (fairly steep, they were K-X and F-X in trot).

                You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                • Original Poster

                  Blugal sent you a Pm.

                  "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries