As Liam’s leg yields continue to improve, it has become time to sharpen them up some. Nowhe stays pretty straight through his body as he moves sideways (remember last summer when I couldn’t get the hind end to move over with the shoulders? it always wanted to trail), and he holds the little trot very well… but now as we work on the perfect leg yield, the trot gets smaller… and smaller… and smaller… and then we are walking. Ok, time to brighten this puppy up again! Carefully though, so the hind end stays in line with the shoulders.
The answer… try this exercise!
Tracking left at a sitting trot, as you trot through the short side of the arena, take the quarter line, and leg yield back towards the wall. Aim to hit the wall at about E or B (ie the middle, depending which side you are on). BEFORE you get there, stop the leg yield. So leg yield to just before you get back to the rail (the wall), then proceed straight ahead a step or two, maintaining a slight inside bend. Then turn and trot across the center of the arena, picking up your left lead canter at X. Canter back to the corner, transition to trot at the corner, take the quarter line and repeat. After a few times, reverse and do the same the other direction.
Why this helps:
The wall has magic suction power that works only on horses. When you start leg yielding towards the wall, you think they are moving off your leg, but really the wall is sucking them over. Ok, not really… but it seems that way sometimes. So by stopping the leg yield just before you are back on the rail, you make sure that you are actively using your OUTSIDE aids and not just your inside leg (to push sideways) and your inside rein (for bend). Using only inside aids makes crooked, incorrect leg yields, and makes it easy for the horse to throw his shoulders to the wall. When you finish the leg yield, straighten, and proceed across the center of the arena, you have used your aids to finish the leg yield, instead of letting the wall stop you. It also works with the inside bend you should have in your leg yield, and if done correctly, sets you up for a nice canter transition. The canter transition has the added bonus of making the horse up and forwards, and gives you the opportunity to set up a nice round trot if your canter-trot transitions are good.
Let me know how it goes!