I’ve been using a tricky little exercise recently with several clients recently. It’s all about balance, straightness, and understanding of the aids. Plus the fact that less is more.
Starting on the left rein in walk, because it’s more complicated than first appears, turn onto the centre line at C. Leg yield to the right for about three strides. Ride straight and then leg yield to the left for about six strides. Then leg yield back to the right onto the centre line. Turning right at A to change the rein.
When coming off the right rein, leg yield to the left first.
The secret to this exercise, and I usually let my rider have a couple of goes before letting them in on the secret, is that less is more.
If you’re too ambitious and ask for too much leg yield, the horse invariably loses balance and has too much bend in their body. Which makes it harder for them to straighten, change their bend and start to leg yield in the opposite direction. Then it takes longer to change direction and you run out of centre line.
Once my rider starts to be more conservative with their leg yield there is usually just the small task of tidying up the transitions between the leg yields and then they’ll crack the exercise.
If leg yielding from right leg to left hand, the rider needs to use the left rein to balance the horse and use their left leg to stop the leg yield and ride straight. Then they need to change their position into position left (left seat bone slightly deeper, left leg on the girth, right leg behind; right rein becomes the outside rein) before asking for very slight left flexion and then the leg yield back to the right.
The straighter the horse stays in leg yield the easier it is to change direction. Less is more.