Rising-Trot Leg Yields

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I have a question on ?learning to leg yield,? which was in one of my back issues (Aug. 2008). How does one put both legs

back in rising trot'

Horse Journal Response: When you're doing lateral work, you want a relaxed thigh and knee so the horse's stride can swing through his entire body. Your legs can't be clamped against the horse's side.

First, work on developing a flexible ankle, or you won?t be able to bring the leg back without raising the heel: As the rider?s body goes up in the rising phase of the posting trot, the heel should flex down. When the heel drops, the knee should slide down the saddle flap as well and, thus, the entire leg lengthens. As the rider returns to the saddle in the sitting phase of the posting trot, the heel should relax. It goes without saying that the stirrup leather should be short enough so that the heel can drop below the toes when the ankle flexes down.

Next, concentrate on opening your hips: While standing still, drop your stirrups. Lift one leg off the saddle, rotate it forward at the hip, and let it drop back down along the flap. Repeat with the other leg. When you get the hang of this standing still, repeat it in a more subtle way with your feet in the stirrups while the horse is at the walk and trot. When you bring your leg back at any time ? not just at the posting trot ? you want to do so along the entire length of the leg, starting at the hip, not just from the knee.

A useful exercise to develop both a flexible ankle and an open hip is to trot in two-point position. Hold mane to keep your balance until you gain confidence to let your ankle and leg drop and flex.

When doing lateral work, such as leg-yielding, you may be fine keeping your outer leg opposite the active inner leg. you'll receive the action of the inside leg with the outside rein to control the outside shoulder. But, if the horse has any tendency to lead with his haunches, you may want to reach back and down with the outside leg so the half-halt on the outside rein is more effective and the haunches stay in line with the shoulders.