7 Easy steps to starting in hand work – Part 4 Leg Yield

If you have been working on the previous steps, you should now be quite comfortable with starting, stopping, and moving your horse sideways and backwards, which means you’ve achieved a fair level of control. Most of these early steps involve little movement, but now it’s time to start testing your abilities on the move.

Whilst ‘leg’ yield isn’t quite the right term, as there is no leg aid involved in ground work, the movement we are asking the horse to perform is identical, so I shall continue to use the descriptor.

Reasons to teach Leg Yield

  • provided you achieve correct crossing of the legs, this is a great way to supple and mobilise your horse’s lower back
  • done slowly and correctly, crossing also achieves engagement of the core muscles, helping to develop strength
  • it will help you to gain greater control of both ends of your horse at the same time
  • also prepares your horse to learn this movement under saddle

What do you want to see in a good leg yield?

  • You want your horse to step forward and sideways at the same time
  • His shoulder should always be slightly in the lead
  • The legs should pass and cross over at every step, with the inside hind moving in front of the outside hind
  • The entire thing should be steady and controlled
  • Unlike the ridden competition version, if there is some neck bend, don’t worry, this is a suppling exercise and provided the legs are crossing, the job is being done!
  • Finish with a clear halt and praise.
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