If you would like your horse to become rounder, by relaxing the jaw and working in a round, low frame, try riding leg yield on a circle – here’s how:
The leg-yield involves forward and sideways movement.
The hindquarters must be engaged in order for the legs to cross sideways.
The horse should have slight poll and neck flexion away from the direction he is travelling.
Keep thinking, ‘engaged quarters’! Your ‘inside’ in the leg yield is always the side to which the horse is slightly bent, and the side he will move away (or yield) from.
The ‘outside’ is the direction of movement. Thus, a leg yield to the left in this exercise is performed on a right circle, with slight right (inside) flexion. (See pic.)
Here’s my simple exercise. (Bear in mind that you don’t need to ask for too much bend, or use too much inside rein in leg yield – as the horse may ‘fall through’ the outside shoulder.) Once you’ve warmed up, walk on positively with clear aids.
Ride a small circle – around 10-15 metres. The horse should be attentive and tracking up (eg. where the hind feet fall into the footfalls of the forefeet, or exceed these footfalls). ‘Slower and lower’ is often the key here – don’t rush! You will already have a slight inside bend prior to the leg yield, so maintain this with the inside rein.
Ask the horse to leg yield out onto a 20m circle. Your inside leg should ask the horse to move over, and is used slightly behind the girth. Maintain inside flexion and make sure you have a giving, rather than restrictive inside hand.
After a few steps of leg yield onto the larger circle, ride forward with your normal aids – your rhythm should stay the same. The horse should relax its jaw further as you repeat the above exercise; it is important for you to ‘give’ when the horse softens for you. Next, start again on the opposite rein.
Now move into trot, and repeat the exercise.
Remember that the exercise will move very quickly!
Aim to carry out the exercise in sitting trot, as your aids will probably be more consistent.
Jenny Richardson BHSAI is Equestrian Centre Business Manager at Ireland’s Castle Leslie Estate.
This is a luxury equestrian riding holidays and training break venue in the heart of Ireland.
The team welcomes riders of all abilities and age groups and offers expert tuition, gentle hacks, dressage tuition and exhilarating cross-country rides over an extensive XC course.