leg yield - oh my heck!

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Xanthoria
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leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Xanthoria » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:05 pm

Frustrating lesson yesterday. 5 yr old brontosaurus cannot grok leg yield. I am amazed that something so simple is causing so much GAH!

In hand - no probs. Under saddle with me pointing at him behind the girth or poking w finger - no probs.

But when my trainer comes or if alone, all goes awry. We get TOF, rein back, all sorts of mularkey. Horse's longitudinal balance is not. Balanced. And impulsion at walk = nonexistant... :P

Here's my issue: I have always asked from walk with forward being more important than sideways, and a slight angle.

Trainer teaches from halt: ask for 1/4 TOF, then ask for slow steps of leg yield. Too fast is bad (tho admit I don't recall her reasoning) but steep angle is OK - it's about going sideways and we can correct angle later I think. My mind is a little boggled by this.

Can anyone describe why one would teach from halt/TOF? Is it to help keep outside hind on the ground longer per this? See "Tips For Riding Leg Yields" towards the end

(Also can anyone confirm timing of leg aid is inside hind coming forward, and seatbone = inside (i.e. yielding to the right, left seatbone is on, or is it instead weight in the direction of travel...)?)

Too much conflicting info - I need to pick a lane...

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby piedmontfields » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:13 pm

I think you are right that it is a lane issue. Me, I'm a fan of teaching a walking turn on the forehand, especially when working on very basic reactions. Why? I think it prevents accidental "stickiness" and connects the TOF to other desirable reactions ("wake up your inside hind leg and cross under"). Whole other lane.

In your description it sounds like you are combining TOF with LY? That could be confusing everyone.

Head to wall leg yield in hand + under saddle might help make it clear what is fuzzy to horse.
Last edited by piedmontfields on Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Tsavo » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:17 pm

Wow that's a bit of a hot mess there. I would not start LY from a position requiring bend as LY has no bend.

Maybe it would help if you recall that LY is a straightening exercise. You want to feel like the horse is between your inside leg and outside rein. Just focus on keeping the horse parallel to the rail while advancing towards the rail on a diagonal.

Just get the footfall correct in terms of staying parallel to the rail on a diagonal and then you can refine it by asking for inside flexion and cadence and slight shoulder leading and such. Some horses will try to go too steep and lose forward. Don't let that happen. Hold a shallower diagonal and see if you can do it by having some feel of the outside rein.

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Dresseur » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:29 pm

I'm also in the camp that I would not teach a leg yield in that manner, it's over complicating the movement IMO, and opening the door for the horse to hook it's neck rather than stay straight. The purpose of the leg yield is to test whether or not the horse will move off the leg. So, I do not weight anything one way or another - I stay centered and use my inside leg to pulse the horse over. The horse has to yield to the leg and move over. There should be no bend (only a bit of inside flexion) and the horse should stay straight with the spine parallel to the wall as Tsavo has said. Although, for a green horse, a bit of a diagonal line is fine as long as the outside shoulder isn't bulging. Like you said, forward should be first, sideways second.

How I teach it is to use the wall as a magnet - horses already want to glom onto the wall, so if you come off a short side somewhere between quarterline and the wall, and use a bit of inside leg, the horse will start to move out towards the wall. You can use a bit of opening outside rein to help guide the horse and to keep the horse straight between both reins. I do this in trot because to some degree, the leg sequence in the trot helps the the rider out, and the extra impulsion help to keep the horse straighter (usually).

As the horse figures out the leg yield, you can go from quarterline or centerline. For some horses, especially wall magnets that like to collapse to the inside, asking for leg yield OFF the wall will help greatly with straightness. As proficiency increases or, if you find that the horse wants to bulge the outside shoulder and run to the wall, you can ask for a few steps of leg yield, go straight, leg yield, go straight - which demonstrates control over the outside shoulder, or, leg yield zig zags, which I find narrows the base of a horse that wants to be wide behind.

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby galopp » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:00 am

Consider what happens when there are the various problems. If the rider gets TOF, then there is too much inside rein and too little outside connection, and perhaps too much inside leg. If there is rein back then the hands are overwhelming the energy. There is no impulsion in walk, because there is no airtime; but there is activity, and in walk the rider MUST allow bascule/telescoping within the gait.

You are right to walk with forward being more important than sideways; there is angle if you are doing head to the wall LY, but when going from the centerline to the wall there is no angle. A sharp angle is problematic because the horse loses the activity and is more likely to hit is leg.

A (mobile) toF can teach the horse to move from the leg (in hand or mounted), but likely there is more bend.Then asking with the leg. Spiraling out (yielding to the leg vs LY because there is bend) is a useful excessive as well. But no matter what the rider must PULSE the calf (ideally nearer the girth), the rider ALWAYS looking where the horse is looking. Sit in the middle, not more on the inside or outside. (For what it is worth LY is an exercise which there is much discussion from the various schools, and some dont use it as all as it is not engaging.)

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby heddylamar » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:30 am

This is a wonderfully detail-rich explanation, Galopp.

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Fatcat » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:56 am

I teach it like Dresseur outlines, come off the short side onto the quarter line and using my inside leg slightly back and weighting the outside seat one I ask for the sideways motion. Often need an opening outside rein too. This works great for horses I've taught. The key can sometimes be the riders weighting, often riders get left behind the motion and the horse won't LY well. Make sure to have your weight over the direction you want the horse to go.
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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby exvet » Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:23 pm

To capitalize on what Fatcat said (because I employ much of the same) I also would add that for me to insure that I don't use too much leg in addition to the checklist of insuring I'm looking in the direction I intend the horse to go, I also make sure it feels like my seat is taking us there. In other words my seat has light but definite influence in the intended direction and sequence of hind leg foot falls. It's going to sound weird but it's like my seat picks up the horse's back and a way we go. I also seem to be more effective at the timing of my leg aid when I mentally and physically approach the leg yield in such a fashion. This way too I'm able to keep forward momentum riding the horse into my receiving hand and stay centered in my saddle without too much effort. For beginner horses (I just got through with this a few months ago on my 6 year old mustang) like an opening rein, I make sure I have an opening hip and make sure I"m not blocking my horse. The light bulb went off for him readily on one side and then of course took a bit more for his other side which was a symptom of his biggest issue which is straightness but as you are experiencing balance has also been an issue for a horse who for 5 years of his life had no trouble running the range in his own fashion.......Interestingly I find this horse far more responsive to my seat than anything else.

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby greenholmeshandy » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:24 pm

hello x vet nice to hear from you. It sounds to me like you have a clever native pony that doesn't quite understand what is required so is offering anything it can think of bar what you want!

We trained my pony to leg yield by starting on the 3/4 line and leg yielding to the fence as it capitalises on the younger pony's inclination to wonder back to the safety of the fence line. I also initially exaggerated rein nearest the fence and leg open and foot (mine) nearest the fence sort of pointing towards it to get the message across.

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Xanthoria » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:16 pm

greenholmeshandy, he is a very clever pony, albeit almost 17.1 of Dutch behemoth with about 2 years left to grow into it all, by my reckoning!

Yes - everyone is confirming my suspicion that trainer's way of asking is not right, as you're all describing the way I'd normally do it. I shall work on it privately and beg off leg yield in lessons until I feel he's got it. Otherwise, trainer is great!

"Maybe it would help if you recall that LY is a straightening exercise." Tsavo, YES! Lightbulb reminder, thanks.

I am also feeling like I need to address the balance between weighting in direction of movement vs blocking: some subtlety there to address.

Also since my pony is food motivated, I can always resort to clicker training this with ground help (the Wonder Boy standing at his side and pointing at girth) and I expect pony will be flying sideways in no time... :mrgreen: :roll: :lol:

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Chisamba » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:42 pm

i only started teaching leg yield when it was required for the first level, having been, as Galop suggested, started in a school that does not believe in leg yield. Since it is not a collecting movement it can really be taught in any way, I personally prefer to teach it on a circle, which makes it not a true leg yield since the horse is moving away from the leg but is bent on the circle. I also like to teach the opening inside rein TOF into leg yield, for a horse that is inclined to try and rush away from the leg yield. At times i will teach the horse to leg yield in the haunches in position along the rail. I think it depends on the natural inclination of the horse, which i choose, and whatever the horses natural inclination is, i do the opposite.

as for aids, yes, i sit on the center of the horse, and pulse with the inside leg as the inside hind comes off the ground, on leg aid for each stride behind. inside rein off the neck, outside rein against the neck inside rein does what is needed to maintain inside flexion, outside rein does what is needed to maintain control of the shoulder and prevent over bending.

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Xanthoria » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:35 pm

Well, to update yesterday I went out and armed myself with a few tools:

1. Two pockets full of treats because this is not a democracy, and I will resort to bribery.
2. Two dressage whips. One for each hand. More to make sure my hands stayed still than for tapping with, TBH.

I started on loose rein just meandering all around the place with seatbone and leg aids. Then went back to doing leg yield my way - sitting straight, asking for a nice straight 1/4 line, and if the wall were to suck us over that way when a little inside leg and outside weight came into play, great. If not, forward, forward, forward.

Net result, horse outdid himself to the right and will be happy to go at a much too steep angle just to show off. To the left still needs work, as I'm fumbling to correct excess bend so shoulders are leading.

We mixed it up with some squares with 1/4 TOF in the corners to trot, and worked on some walk/canter departs.

It's not flowing yet, but I feel much better about his level of comprehension :)

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Abby Kogler » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:49 pm

exvet wrote: I make sure I have an opening hip and make sure I"m not blocking my horse.


This is really important. Every one of us has a heavier seatbone, and hip/thigh/lower back what have you stiffer/tighter that the other side. This will always be reflected in the horse by 'difficulty' going/doing one thing one was or the other. Its so important to train/allow *our* bodies and our muscle habits to not block what we are thinking we are asking the horse to do.

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Xanthoria » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:25 am

As it turns out today we found out I was collapsing to the inside. Quelle surprise...

Anyway, trainer was v open to my explanation on why I wanted to break this down in a slightly different way to hers, which is why I think she's great. In the past, trainers have been a bit "do or die" and she's a lot more sympathetic.

Onward and upward! :D

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Kyra's Mom » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:09 am

Don't you love it when a plan comes together? Glad he is getting the idea and you can get your body sorted out. 8-) .

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Xanthoria
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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby Xanthoria » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:15 pm

OK, we have progress.

Horse is LY left and right at walk - much better when I get organized, but moving sideways nonetheless.

To the left, he tends to lead w shoulders. I want to catch the shoulder w outside (left) leg, which straightens him immediately. Or tap tap the right side butt to get it over and lined up. Which is more correct?

We have progressed to trot. To the right we get some sideways and then it all peters out to a walk. Is the solution just to maintain energy with all the aids available? Or to get him thinking forwards by adding a canter depart at the wall each time? Or to just do a couple sideways steps then trot forward strongly? (or to, um, stop letting him halt and give him a treat every time he leg yields... :oops: )

To the left at trot it's more of a staggery banana situation but um, yeah... :oops:

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby khall » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:29 pm

Have you tried the LY on the wall? As in head to the wall?

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Re: leg yield - oh my heck!

Postby StraightForward » Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:38 pm

Xanthoria wrote:OK, we have progress.

Horse is LY left and right at walk - much better when I get organized, but moving sideways nonetheless.

To the left, he tends to lead w shoulders. I want to catch the shoulder w outside (left) leg, which straightens him immediately. Or tap tap the right side butt to get it over and lined up. Which is more correct?

We have progressed to trot. To the right we get some sideways and then it all peters out to a walk. Is the solution just to maintain energy with all the aids available? Or to get him thinking forwards by adding a canter depart at the wall each time? Or to just do a couple sideways steps then trot forward strongly? (or to, um, stop letting him halt and give him a treat every time he leg yields... :oops: )

To the left at trot it's more of a staggery banana situation but um, yeah... :oops:


Xan, Ritter Dressage is doing a whole Facebook Live on Leg Yield next week. The times are usually inconvenient since they're in Germany, but you can watch the replay if you can't make it to the live event. It's totally free.

I was having the same shoulders leading issue in trot, and over-corrected with catching the shoulders, so in my last lesson my instructor pointed out that I was dumping her on the inside shoulder at the beginning of the LY. Leading a little with the shoulders is OK, as long as the hinds are stepping laterally, not just trailing along on a single track without any crossing. Also, she said don't try to go too steep at this point. I got some video at trot yesterday, just a couple steps of LY to wall to set up for T/C transitions, and there was more crossing than I expected. Also, once she started expect the up transition after LY, she was a little more forward and I had more energy to work with. If I really loose the hinds, I'll go back to TOF to remind her to step her haunches over obediently, then try the LY again.
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