Leg Yields Without the Legs
By Keith Hosman, John Lyons Certified Trainer
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Leg Yields Without the Legs
What we'll cover: Moving diagonally (aka "leg yields") and speed transitions. What we'll build: Smooth diagonal movement, a pronounced fluidity from walk to jog to lope and back down again; "politeness" and seemingly imperceptible cues for "leg yielding" and speed transitions. What we'll fix: Horses that are stiff or want to leap through their transitions, horses that drift and/or ignore our cues, horses that just trod along "going through the motions."
Prerequisite training: Ability to move hips and shoulders independently
Note: Throughout this article, I'll use the phrase "leg yield" to describe what happens when your horse moves diagonally ("laterally"), or forward and sideways, and away from your leg. While we as Lyons trainers use our reins to accomplish this movement (as opposed to making the request with our "active legs"), I make use of the classic phrase here ("leg yield") because that's how the particular movement is most widely known.
Note also that there are as many different types of lateral movements as there are horses and trainers, (half pass, haunches-in, haunches-out, etc.) with "leg yielding" being one of the more elementary movements for horse and rider. So as not to be confused, correct leg yields require that your horse carry his body relatively straight; he'll bend a bit at the poll, looking slightly away from the direction in which he moves.
Once you're accomplished at the prerequisites listed above, (the ability to move the shoulders/hips) smooth, fluid and effortless leg yields are easier than you think. The cool thing is, teaching this material will fix several other horse "issues." For instance, does your horse drift against your leg? (You wanna go left but he pushes to the right like a car with half a flat?) Does he brace and throw his head when picking up a trot, like he's affronted that you'd even ask? And, when you ask for a speed transition, are your cues obvious to everyone in the arena - or subtle like your horse is reading your mind?
With this training session, let's get our horse moving laterally like a champ - but let's also teach him to travel ramrod straight when that's what we want and to quit darting left then right like a leaf falling from a tree. Let's get him listening for our next cue rather than ignoring us altogether and let's put buttons on him that give us smooth, effortless speed transitions and make us look pretty darn cool to boot.
First hop on your horse and test something out...
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| Meet the author:
John & Josh Lyons Certified
Clinician and Trainer
Utopia, TX (Hill Country of San Antonio)
Keith Hosman is based in San Antonio, TX and is available for clinics, lessons and training. He frequently travels to Los Angeles, CA and Kansas City, MO where he partners with fellow clinician Patrick Benson for clinics and demonstrations. You can find him on Google+ and Reddit.
To see articles and training products related to the article you just read, see the following topics:
Cues Lesson Plans Goals
Diagonals - also see Lateral Work
Haunches In or Travers - also see Hip Control
Lateral Work - also see Diagonals
Leg Yielding also see Diagonals
Sidepass - Fullpass
Yield to Pressure
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Lyons Training 101: Issue Twenty-eight, Part 1
"Ask a Horse Trainer: Leg Yielding Without Your Legs"
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