How To Teach Leg Yield

Learn what leg yield is and discover what judges are looking for.

Leg yield is a great exercise to begin from the ground and Jody has a knack for helping us understand how horses think and learn using the principles of Equitation Science.

She teaches us her approach to shaping a horses behaviour and how you can introduce new skills to your horse from the ground first to help build a solid relationship in the saddle later.

In this article we discuss what leg yield is from a judges perspective according to the FEI Judges handbook. You will then find a wee snippet below from her online program discussing her approach to training it.

Teaching leg yield from the ground first

What is leg yield?

Leg yielding is performed in working trot. The horse is almost straight with a slight flexion at the poll away from the direction in which the horse moves.

The rider is just able to see the eyebrow and nostril to the inside. The inside legs pass and cross in front of the outside legs.

Leg yielding is something that should be included into your horses training before it is ready for the more collected work. It can be performed on the diagonal or down a 3/4 line or even as zig zags.

It can also be performed along the wall of your arena whereby your horse creates a 35 degree angle to the direction in which you are moving.

The benefits of leg-yield

The aim of leg yield as a training exercise for your horse:

  • To demonstrate suppleness and lateral responsiveness of the horse

Essentials of leg yielding are:

  • Maintenance of the regularity of the trot
  • The straightness, with only a slight positioning of the poll away from the direction of the movement.
  • The clear crossing of the inside legs over the outside legs.
  • Obedience to the aids.

More advanced horses that are working in collection may be asked to leg-yield in canter to further develop suppleness, but this isn’t seen in test movements.

Common faults in leg-yielding

Here are some of the most common faults seen when riding leg yield incorrectly.

  • loss of rhythm and irregular steps
  • inaccurate lines
  • too much angle
  • horse falling out through its shoulder
  • rider sitting to the wrong side and leaning over
  • quarters trailing or quarters leading
  • too much neck bend
  • horse not moving forward
  • tilted head
  • losing balance and not consistent through the movement.
  • rider doing to much and horse not responding to aids

Practicing your leg yields as part of your everyday training and doing 1000’s of them will not only improve your ability to ride them well, but will also improve your horses strength and suppleness as well as responsiveness to your aids.

It’s a movement we see in level 2, Novice here in New Zealand, so something to introduce to your horses training early on.

So there you have some insight into what leg yield is all about and what judges are looking for if you are entering that competition arena.

It’s also a fabulous training exercise to include into your regular training regime.

How to train leg yield?

Here is a snippet of the video ‘Introducing leg yield’ where Jody runs through the basic teaching of in-hand work with her young dressage horse.

She explains how each part then relates to a rider being under saddle and more advanced movements.

To access her entire series join us here and take your Dressage Training to a new level by learning from the best. We hope you enjoy it.

Get access to the full video plus over 4 hours of Jody’s teaching with her online training program ‘Principles Of Horse Training.’

Want to learn more from Jody? Check out these articles

Equitation Science – Cues + Signals

Inhand Work For Dressage Horses

Clicker Training For Dressage Horses

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