Jun 16, 2022

Exercises for Amping Up Your Leg Yield Game with ICP Instructor Jim Graham

Jim Graham instructing a flatwork session at the 2022 ICP Symposium. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo

In our last edition of “Perfecting the Leg Yield with ICP Instructor Jim Graham,” we outlined a great starting point for riders in terms of understanding and accomplishing the leg yield. In this second part, Graham expands upon the leg yield with a few variations of exercises suitable for the next step in your flatwork training. While these exercises were outlined with the Training and Modified level rider in mind, they can be adapted for riders of all levels.

“There are three things that every rider must ride with: coordination, balance, and with certain strengths. And with strengths, sometimes that strength in itself is to be soft where you just whisper the aid. Sometimes, you have to be a little stronger and press a little stronger with the inside leg. The rider must be sitting balanced and in the middle of the horse, the rider must have the strength necessary for their horse with the inside leg, and then with coordination, this can be the tough one for lower-level riders, the rider must coordinate the timing with the inside left leg says move forward and out to the outside rein. All of this must happen while staying in the middle of the horse.

So after we accomplish the leg yield on the half-circle from E to B [from the previous article], I will flip things around. We are still tracking left, but I have the rider count or call the timing as the outside hind leg is airborne. I tend to like to start at the walk first here. The first leg yield we worked on was a standard leg yield from inside to outside. We did that both ways and now we are going to ask for a counter leg yield. The outside of the circle becomes the inside of the horse because now we are going to move the horse from the right hind across to the left rein. Typically, we do a little bit of counter-positioning right, not to be confused with bending the neck to the right. If we alter the bend of the neck to the right, that is a no-no. What is the horse going to do? They are going to fall to the left out of default because they are not balanced.

Once we have coordinated this, we go back to the trot and I have the rider post the trot. Here, they can do one of two things. On the circle left they can post on the correct diagonal, but this time on the downbeat they will press their lower leg and move the horse in on the circle between E and B. Or they can change their diagonal and deliberately take the wrong diagonal and on the upbeat press that right leg to move the horse in. Many riders ask me what I want them to do and I encourage them to find which way they are most effective. Some riders on the downbeat will slam the horse’s back. We have to find what works for each rider to be effective and for each horse to be responsive.

Then as we go around the 20m circle I will have the rider execute the counter leg yield on half of the circle and on the other half, I will have them ride normal, riding true and straight with no leg yield. When they are really good, we can challenge the rider even more. We can ask them from E to B to leg yield from the inside to the outside and then on the second half of the circle we will do a counter leg yield to move the horse’s outside right hind to the inside. Now, keep in mind- not all riders are going to get to both of these exercises in one session.

If the rider can really only get one part of the exercise and isn’t ready to move on to the leg yield to counter leg yield on the circle yet, then we can graduate them from the circle and have them come down the quarter line of the dressage ring first maintaining straightness of the horse with symmetry. Then on their next time down the quarter line, assuming the horse is straight, we can ask the rider to do a leg yield from the inside from the quarter line to the outside to a letter on the rail so they have a point they can ride too. If they perfect that, I will put the rider on the quarter line and will have them perform a zig-zag exercise where they will come down the centerline straight, and then I will ask them to zig-zag from the centerline to the quarterline back to the centerline and to the opposite quarterline. For your greener horse and riders, you can keep them on the quarterline and have them leg yield quarterline to the long wall and then long wall back to the quarterline.”

About the USEA Instructors’ Certification Program

Instructors are essential to the training of riders and horses for safe and educated participation in the sport of eventing. The USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) was initiated in 2002 to educate all levels of eventing instructors with crucial training principles upon which those instructors can continue to build throughout their teaching careers. ICP offers educational workshops and assessments by which both regular instructors, Level I through Level V, Young Event Horse (YEH) instructors, and Young Event Horse professional horse trainers can become ICP certified. Additional information about ICP’s goals, benefits, workshops, and assessments as well as names and contact information for current ICP-certified instructors, YEH instructors, and YEH professional horse trainers are available on the USEA website. Click here to learn more about the Instructors’ Certification Program.

The USEA would like to thank Stable Secretary and Parker Equine Insurance for sponsoring the Instructors’ Certification Program. Additionally, Parker Equine Insurance offers 5% off to all ICP instructors and Stable Secretary provides a 25% discount on their subscription services to all ICP instructors.



Jun 29, 2022 Eventing News

USEA President Max Corcoran Appointed USEF Eventing Elite Program and Team Facilitator

On May 1, 2022, Max Corcoran was appointed as the Eventing Elite Program and Team Facilitator. In her role, Corcoran will support the areas of communication, logistics, and management of the teams for the Eventing Programs to deliver sustained success at World and Olympic Games level. As the Facilitator, she will work closely with the interim Chef d’Equipe/Team Manager, Bobby Costello, and eventing staff to build solid lines of communication with athletes, grooms, owners, coaches, veterinarians, and all stakeholders linked to the athletes and develop the structures around the Elite Program and senior U.S. Eventing Team.

Jun 29, 2022 Education

A Case for Warming Up (and How to Do It Correctly) with Kyle Carter

Imagine: you are at the biggest sporting event of your life. The stakes are high, and you have spent countless hours preparing for it. However, you are expected to just show up and immediately perform. You cannot stretch or take a practice swing. You have no time to loosen up or sharpen your eye. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Just like us, our horses need adequate time to warm up each day. A warmup is any preparation for work, and it is often the leading edge of that work. It is the small aid response that becomes the more advanced aid response.

Jun 28, 2022 Hall of Fame

Newest Invitation to USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame Extended to Trish Gilbert

This year a new class will be joining the 47 eventing legends currently in the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Eventing Hall of Fame. Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor awarded within the sport of eventing in the United States. Those invited to join the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame have truly made a difference in the sport of eventing. Hall of Fame members have included past Association presidents, volunteers, riders, founding fathers, course designers, officials, organizers, horses, horse owners, and coaches

Jun 28, 2022 Rules

Rule Refresher: What Will Be Expected of Me at the Training and Modified Level?

Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? Over the course of the next few Rule Refreshers, we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase. Want to better prepare yourself or your students for their first competition or a move-up? The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is a free resource to all USEA members that outlines clear and consistent guidelines for riders and trainers to refer to when navigating their way through the competition levels.

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