First (of many) Dressage Question

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First (of many) Dressage Question

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  • Probs with leg yield

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    05-06-2009, 05:13 PM
First (of many) Dressage Question

Hi all - new here, and looking for advice already... there's going to be an endless stream of questions.

Ok - I'm currently working with my instructor's horse Maya, improving my (and hopefully her) dressage.
We've mastered forward (check), straightness (check), response (check), frame (check... but just)... however, I am having a problem with leg yield at walk on the left rein. At trot - no probs at all.

Basically, Maya will arch herself around my left leg when pressure is applied (actually the same applies to the shoulder-in also... in fact we end up doing half a halfpass!) At trot we get a decent amount of crossover, but at walk it's a different story.

I've done a lot of work on improving forwardness, self-carriage and straightness in walk (things like spirals , turns on forehands etc)... My instructor tells me to be more assertive, I.e. Gently tapping over with the schooling whip... However, she still tries it on.

She is stiff on the left rein, so we are working on suppleness, and spend about 60% of schooling time on that rein.

Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you!

When I can drag my bf down to the stables - I'll get some footage and you can pick me to pieces and tell me what I'm doing wrong.
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    05-06-2009, 05:50 PM
So you're having an issue with the leg yield to the right, and just generally moving off of the left leg? We call the leg yields by the direction that we end up moving, the same with the half pass.
What it sounds like to me is that although you have the horse forward and moving in a straight line, you are missing the impulsion and true straightness of the horse and the aids. Before I start kind of explaining how ot go about riding this, I'm just going to go through the training scale.
Rhythm - the horse must be moving at a comfortable pace where he is not rushing, or being lazy and the strides must be of an even length, and consistent.
Relaxation - the horse must not be stressed or nervous, but willing and happy in his job.
Contact - the horse must accept the contact, not tossing his head or moving his neck around, and stepping up from the rhythmical pace behind, into the contact, reaching for it.
Schwung - the combination of the first three steps and the circle of aids should create the pushing power for the horse to really swing through his back and become impulsive.
Straightness - the horse's hind feet must always land on the same line as the fore feet (except in the lateral movements) the horse's body must be supple enough, and the shoulders and haunches of the horse should be easily controlable.
Collection - see my post in the "Collection" topic where I quoted the FEI article. Basically, the pushing power of the horse is converted to lift the forehand and make movements easy.

From your description, I assume that you've mastered the first two steps of the training scale. Before we even think about the lateral movements we should have achieved the fourth step of the training scale because lateral work really helps to develop the horse's straightness and collection, and developing these sooner than when we have schwung is like teaching the horse long division before teaching multiplication, it's not really gong to get us anywhere and leaves a hole in the training.
I would really suggest working with your coach to develop a consistent contact and work on the circle of aids in order to get a really effective half halt, leg and seat. At this point I would be working on the movements from first level (lengthen stride in trot and canter, working paces, leg yields, 10m circles in trot, 15m circles in canter, and the beginnings of counter canter) to really solidify the basics and teach you how to start riding collection before performing movements that develop it.
It the horse is bending so far around your leg when you are asking her to move over from it, then you don't have a straight horse because you don't have control over the shoulders and haunches. To correct this, I would work on transitions in the leg yield to get her understanding what you want. She is probably also not used to the way you aid. I would also work on 10m circle and then riding straight, 10m circle, ride straight, etc. In between the circles you can also add in a lengthen stride. Another good exercise is to spiral in and out of a circle, again to separate the turning, bending and leg yielding aids.

Good luck!
    05-07-2009, 09:04 AM
Thanks Annabel... some good tips in there. Appreciate your time.
I think I need to be more specific, though.
Her walk naturally lacks impulsion - it's not great at all, so the impulsion has to be generated. I do a lot of what you are suggesting above. In trot, we get good crossover and no 'snaking'. She'll move off and away from the left leg in spirals, trotting leg yields and turns on the forehand.
So, I'm thinking the route of the problem is achieveing the right amount of collection in walk. Currently, I use transitions and circles of different sizes... it works well at walk on the right leg (left leg yield), but falls to pieces on the other rein.
I used to ride a thoroughbred that had a naturally forward walk, so maybe I got lazy! Any other ideas of how to activate a walk?

(btw - I asked my instructor this morning, and apparently our other gaits are fine, if not good (ish))
    05-07-2009, 10:33 AM
Do some lateral work in-hand. Shoulder-in, haunches-in, and yeilding sideways. Would your trainer know how to do this? Otherwise I'd be happy to explain. :)
    05-08-2009, 08:40 AM
Hi Koomy - yes, explain away. I've lunged with cavesson and roller, but to be honest most the lunge work I have done is transitions and direction... so any detail on lateral moves would be a big help. Thanks!
    05-09-2009, 10:44 AM
Im sorry I have not yet replied, time is getting away from me.
Read these articles
This is your basic idea. I will get into details shortly.
(I do not know this person)
    05-09-2009, 10:53 AM
Originally Posted by koomy56    
Im sorry I have not yet replied, time is getting away from me.
Read these articles
This is your basic idea. I will get into details shortly.
YouTube - Inhand work - half pass
(I do not know this person)
Good example of lateral work done in hand but that person is doing a leg yield not a half pass.
    05-11-2009, 03:14 PM
Yeah I know. But an okay example of what in-hand will look like. Explaining in-hand over the computer is tough. Lol
So, Zix, you can see the ability of lateral movement when done on the ground. The first thing I would say you should start with is teaching him to yield his hind away from you with a gentle touch of your whip. You will stand at his head, facing his hind. If you're on his left side your left hand will hold the rein directly under the bit, on the buckle. Your right hand will be holding the outside rein. When you use either side of the bit, you will pull down. The inside rein can sometimes be pulled in different ways depending on the answers your horse gives you.
You will take a gentle feel on the outside rein at the same time you tap her hind end over a step. Release the outside rein immediately once she has moved over. The inside rein just keeps the bend and the softness in her jaw. Try not to hold her in any position with your reins, just put her where you want and then release. If she comes out of it, just fix it. Don't hold.
Once you can move her hind end over with the tap of your whip on both sides you can then teach her to yield her shoulders away. To do this, you simply turn and face her. You'll be walking into her throat latch area.
Take a feel on the outside rein, inside rein keeps her bent towards you only a little. Your outside rein tells her to go that way, and you walking into her so to speak tells her to yield over. You can push on her shoulder with the butt of the whip if you need to, or your finger.
You want to get the sensation that she rocks back, then moves her shoulder away from you. If you feel her push forward into the rein or your space abort the shoulder yielding and back her up a step or two, then try again. Be as gentle as you can in the reins. In the in-hand work less is more, its just timing and feel.
Once you can move her shoulders easily and keeping her balance back you can start to alternate from pushing her hind, then her shoulders, then her front, then her hind. Always making sure that she is not pushing down into the reins, pushing forward, that she stays nicely balances between both reins. Also make sure that her head and neck remain in line with the rest of her body. Yes there will be times where she is bent, but her neck still needs to remain centered so that her balance doesn't dump off one shoulder or the other.
Once you can alternate from the back to the shoulders, both sides, you can start to influence the complete yield sideways.
You will still be facing towards the back as you take a feel on the outside rein as you cue her to step sideways. Your outside rein is the rein that blocks the forward movement and allows the hind leg to cross over as she moves sideways. In the beginning just ask for a step or two if sideways then stop and pat her. If she pushes forward, back her up a step. If she backs up, cue her forward. As I said before, it is not about holding her in any position or movement. It is putting her there, directing her there, and then to keep fixing will teach her to hold herself and carry herself. It will make her lighter. And you will be able to keep her balance in check easier.
As you go to move her sideways and her hind end is leading the dance, then you need to walk more into her so her shoulders can catch up. If her shoulders are leading and her hind end is slow, hold a bit on the outside rein and touch her hind end over to keep up. You will know when you have a balanced yielding if her legs move in a diagonal manner. So her inside leg and outside front will move over simultaneously and her inside front and outside will move simultaneously.
Whew. Let me know if any of that made no sense. It really is an important thing, in-hand, so have fun exploring it and seeing what you can do. :)

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