Join Date: May 2012
Location: Chicagoland area, IL
Sorry for the novel I am writing you.... hope I can help! :)
1. How are you asking for the bend?
2. Every dressage trainer I've watched/ridden with starts the journey toward leg yield with shoulder-in first. Turn on the forehand/haunches typically comes much, much later after leg yield is mastered ;)
To teach a horse to leg yield, they first off HAVE to move off your leg. One of those "kick kick kick kick!" horses will never leg yield properly. What I did to train my horse to leg yield was
Ride on a circle in the arena. Work on spinning the horse in a tighter circle so that it doesn't reach the rail. To teach your horse to move off your leg laterally, you use your inside leg and seat bone only until your horse moves outward towards the rail, making the circle bigger. Use your reins and upper body to make sure the forehand doesn't fall out and end up going diagnoally back to the wall.
3. Honestly, can't help you there. My horse also fails at the free walk (we got a 7 once, I thought I had died and gone to heaven LOL). A few trainers have told me that if your horse doesn't have it, you can't teach it. I'm not sure if that's just their cocky way of not admitting they don't know the answer, or if it's true.
4. **IF YOU KNOW HOW TO USE SIDE REINS (NOT DRAW REINS... SIDE REINS) AND A LUNGE LINE *PROPERLY** I tend to use lunging w/ side reins over poles at a trot, where they can get one foot inbetween each pole. This way, they don't have me to guide where their feet go, so they have to use their brain and figure it out for themselves. This helps them figure out how to use their legs through awkward situations, often helping clumsy horses figure out their bodies. And because you are using the side reins to keep them engaged & sitting on their hind end, I could also help build muscles necessary for collection in upper levels.
5. OH MY GOODNESS. Are you secretly riding my horse?! First the free walk... now the 4 beat canter. My horse is the KING of the 4 beat canter! What I do to help him carry himself is sit tall and hold him up with a short reins, positioning his head gently towards the inside, and push your leg wayyy back (as if you're asking for an intense collection, because basically, you are) and DRIIIIIIVEEEEE the horse forward into your hand with your seat and leg. Working on a 20m circle could work best for starters. Your leg aid being so far back will feel and look kind of ridiculous at first, but as your horse learns how to carry himself correct and becomes more obediant off your aids, your wont have to work so hard at it and the 3 beat canter should soon come almost naturally.
6. From my experience, the raising of the back typically comes out of horses when they are reaching down into the bridle as opposed to being held up into it. From what I've ridden, horses with a decent free walk do better with raising their back then my horse with the crappy free walk does. I don't think it's necessarily BAD, and I definitely think conformation could have something to do with it (for example, warmbloods are obviously more prominent in the upper levels than thoroughbreds, and they tend to have much fuller back muscles).