ProfileInternational Dressage Rider Becky Moody shares a simple schooling exercise that’s suitable for all levels.

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I call this exercise ‘Leg Yield – Head on the Boards’. This is a great exercise to teach inexperienced horses and riders because it’s quite clear to understand when it’s right or wrong, and it’s a great stepping stone to work towards shoulder in.

“The leg-yield is a lateral movement in which a horse travels both forward and sideways at the same time. The horse is fairly straight through his body in the leg-yield, although he may have a slight bend opposite to the direction of travel. This is achieved by the horse crossing the front and hind legs over each other during the forwards stride.”

There are many ways to work on leg yield from the basic turn up the three quarter line or centre line and leg yield out to leg yield across the diagonal.

DSC_7041 lrThis exercise uses the arena boards to make leg yield a little easier and ensure it’s done correctly. It concentrates on controlling the angle and preventing the horse from running away from the movement.

Take it to the next level

The way to develop this exercise would be to add some transitions like down to walk and back up into trot. The transitions are added to help develop the engagement and also to test the horse’s reactions off your aids, ie. the half halt in preparation for the transition down or testing how sharp the horse is off the leg in the transition up.

Aim at keeping a consistent angle when changing pace. Don’t worry if you don’t get it straight away, you can see in the trot-walk-trot transition that it’s not easy to keep the angle all the way through.

Even it up

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Work this exercise on both reins but on some horses I might work more on one way than the other. If the horse was a little stiffer on the left side or lazier on the left leg, then I would work on the right side.

Work on the right rein and push the horse a little to the left, moving the quarters away from the left leg. This allows the horse to work away from the slighter stiffer or slow side.   Repeat on the other side but use it as an exercise to help the weaker one.

You can also work on transitions within the pace, so within the trot you can ride a little more towards the collection, then a little more forward and back to collection. This helps to develop the horse’s balance and his engagement. It’s good preparation for doing the same exercises in the shoulder in.

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