Getting Control of Your Horse’s Shoulders with the Leg Yield Hexagon

leg yield

Leg yielding can be such a useful exercise, but one of the most common things that goes wrong is the horse falling over his outside shoulder instead of stepping across his body with his inside hind leg. Here’s a simple exercise to help improve the quality of the leg yield you are getting and give you control over your horse’s shoulders by encouraging him to hold himself up instead of falling on the forehand. To begin, if you need to review what a leg yield is or how to do it, you can read about it here. The other easy…

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4 Patterns for Improving Bend

If you’ve gotten test comments like “needs more bend” or “unbalanced turn/circle” or worse, “counter-bent on circle”, read on for some ideas that might help you work on it. It seems like bend is one of those things that can be super tough to figure out how to get correct, especially at the lower levels, but it’s such an important foundation piece that getting it right will help many pieces of the more advanced work fall into place for you. It’s also something that can be improved almost endlessly, so it never hurts to spend some time concentrating on it. With…

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The Trick to Stretchy Trot and Topline Building

To begin to develop a horse’s musculature, it’s important to start slowly and take the time to create a solid foundation to build on later. This can be a young or green horse that’s never worked, or it can be a horse that’s had some time off or that is changing disciplines or repairing after incorrect riding.  A big part of this means developing the horse’s topline and carrying power, so that he can carry you comfortably, and to make him a lighter, more comfortable horse to ride. When he carries himself correctly, he will move in a way that is easier…

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Leg Yields – The How, When, and Why

horse leg yielding

I love leg yields. They are the most basic lateral movement, and for that reason, an incredible tool for green horses and riders new to dressage.  To do a leg yield is not real hard, but does require an understanding of a few somewhat complicated concepts.  Most people can relatively easily understand the concepts and how to do a leg yield, but then find carrying it out to be slightly counter-intuitive, which is what makes leg yielding such a great exercise. Once it “clicks” for a horse or rider, it’s like a big light bulb turns on, and from there…

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The Easiest Way to Test for Saddle Balance

How your saddle sits on your horse influences how you sit in your saddle.  Once you become aware of this relatively simple fact, you’ll never not notice it again. But I see people riding in improperly balanced saddles all the time, and they are usually struggling to maintain their own position and balance, which of course makes it very hard for them to ride their horse effectively… it’s basically a downward spiral. So what can you do easily, daily even, to double check your balance? Post the trot stand-stand-sit-stand-stand-sit and see if you can get into a rhythm. As an…

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How Praising Your Horse Helps You Ride Better

As we ride, we are constantly asking our horses to do things. Faster, slower, turn, and stop. The stream of requests is nearly endless for the duration of the ride. For the most part, horses are pretty willing to go along with this program. It’s easy to imagine how praising your horse could make this whole thing more enjoyable for him, but have you thought about how it could also make you ride better? Try this: To focus yourself and make your training more clear for your horse, practice asking for one thing (go, stop, turn, haunches-in, piaffe… it works…

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