Welcome to week 2 of weekly exercises, did you find the big-little oval a useful tool in your warm-up?
In honor of stirrup-less November today we'll take a look at an exercise you can certainly try stirrup-less.
The head-to-the-wall leg yield:
Ahh the leg yield. It is such an outstanding suppling exercise you could do it all day! A properly ridden leg yield will help to establish a clear inside-leg-to-outside-rein contact (or lateral connection) and will act to supple as well as straighten the horse.
To ride this exercise begin in an active working walk on the short side of your arena, you can start in either direction, today we will start walking to the right (our right leg is our inside leg). Ride a ten meter circle to the right at the corner before the long side of your arena, as you approach the final 1/3 of your circle straighten your horse and establish a slight flexion to the outside (left) . At this point you should be at roughly a 45 degree angle to the wall of the long side of your arena, 45 degrees is ideal however you can decrease the angle as needed until you and your horse get comfortable with the exercise. As you approach the wall ask your horse to yield sideways from your left leg while maintaining a slight flexion to the left and your angle to the wall.
image© Terry Church
There are a couple of important points to think about while executing a head to the wall leg yield.
1) The horse must maintain the rhythm of the walk i.e. an active 4 beat walk
2) The horse must maintain forward motion as well as sideways motion. Think about pushing your horse up to the wall to help maintain the forward component of the leg yield.
3) Your outside rein prevents the horse from running through the shoulder (in this example the outside rein is the right rein). Aim to maintain a clear line from your elbow to the bit.
When you have established a good leg yield at the walk try it at the trot. Remember, the horse must maintain a clear rhythm at the trot as well.
This may seem like an easy exercise but remember you're working on suppling your horse and making her sensitive to your aids and that takes time! In the mean time...
Happy riding! -Erin