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3 Easy Tips to Make Sure Your Horse is Crossing His Legs Enough in Leg Yields

Jane Savoie

When you do leg yields from the centerline to the long side, it's not always easy to make sure that your horse is crossing his legs enough. That's because as long as you manage to get from Point A to Point B, you can fake yourself out into thinking you're really going sideways. But if your horse isn't crossing his legs enough, you're losing most of the suppling, loosening, toe-touching benefits of leg yields.

So here are 3 easy tips to help you ride better leg yields.

When you do this exercise, do it in the head-to-the wall position. Your horse's front legs stay in the track, and you ask his hindquarters to come onto the inside track. We'll start by tracking to the left.

Also, start the exercise in the walk so you can coordinate your aids and really feel what you're doing.

1. Use your outside rein to make sure your horse's neck is straight. (If you're tracking to the left, the left rein becomes the outside rein in the leg yield because your horse should be flexed at the poll to the right.) If your horse's neck is bent, he won't be crossing his legs.

2. Ask the hindquarters to come in at a 35-degree angle to the rail (slightly less than half of a right angle). If you settle for less angle, your horse won't be crossing enough.

3. If he's not crossing enough, use an opening rein to help you. DON'T push harder with your leg that's behind the girth (the right leg). If you push harder, you'll lean to the right. Your body and your right leg will be giving contradictory signals. Your leg says, "Move over", but your body says, "I won't let you move over."

Instead, support with your left rein and use a quick opening right rein. Bring your right hand to the right and then immediately put it back in riding position. Then, if necessary, repeat the opening rein. If you coordinate the two reins correctly, the action of the right rein will go back to your horse's hind legs, and he'll swing them to the left.

By using your opening right rein and your supporting left rein, you can transfer some of the responsibility for going sideways away from your leg and into your reins.

Once you learn what good crossing feels like, go back to your center line to long side leg yield and see if it feels the same under your seat.

Article Courtesy of Jane Savoie or contact Jane at