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The importance of yield signs

A horse who is properly executing a leg yield in its refined state should have its head and neck slightly bent away from the direction of travel, with its body from withers to tail remaining almost parallel to the rail, says Jackie.

“The forehand should slightly precede the haunches. At a trot, the horse maintains a two-beat sequence, with the left foreleg and right hind leg striking together, followed by the right foreleg and left hind leg.”

Receiving a proper response

To properly leg yield, a horse must first know how to move away from leg pressure and accept moving forward into the bit without much resistance.

To teach a horse to give to leg pressure, or to reschool a horse that doesn’t respond properly to leg pressure, you should be working at walk or trot and then apply leg pressure to one side of the horse, Jackie states. “Both your hand and leg are used together. Ask the horse to move in the direction of a rein or to the indirect rein by applying leg pressure. If you get no reaction, then begin to insist with a little more pressure and drive through your leg so that you put your horse into a position where he must forward off of your leg. Once they do, you’ve got to release and reward them. With repetition, your horse will figure out that when you pick up the rein and apply pressure with your leg, they’re to respond, and when they respond, you’re going to reward.”

Jackie says if your horse doesn’t move at first, then insist that it does by applying more leg pressure. Don’t use the rein to haul your horse in the direction you want to travel; that's not what leg yielding is all about! In fact, you want to keep contact with the mouth as soft as possible. Ask (or insist) the horse move into the direction of a rein or indirect rein with your leg. “You develop a soft mouth through the hand and leg working together,” reminds Jackie.

Marcia King is an award-winning writer specializing in equine, pet, and veterinary topics.

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