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Anticipation
Approach & Retreat
Bending
Bits
Buying a Horse

Common Sense on the Trail
Curb Strap Tying Info.
Exaggeration
Expectations
Feel
Feet

Focus & Time
Ground Driving
Ground Manners
Ground Tying
Haltering
In the Saddle
Introducing a New Horse

Lateral Movement
Leading
Longeing
Mecate Reins
One Rein Stop

Posture
Pressure
The Process
Progress Strings
Punishment & Correction

Reins

Respect
Reward

Round/Square Pen

Rope Skills
Senses
Slobber Straps
Softness
Support
Tools
Training Home
Training Stick
Trust
Trailer Loading
Trailer Unloading
Tying from Above
Tying a rope halter
Visualization
Yielding

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Training ~ Lateral Movement ("Printer Friendly" version of this page)

These movements really aren’t that advanced, but most trainers would like you to think that you can’t possibly do this without their help. Your bending practice becomes critical when you start. Whether you are riding western or english, this is the same movement.

Most people know how to bend their horse, but do you know the difference between a leg yield and a half pass. When you see someone doing these movements you may not be able to distinguish one from the other. We are going to discuss half pass and leg yields.

There are three concepts that you have grasp in order to get this to work correctly:

  1. The horse needs to move forward (or backward) as much as they move sideways.
  2. The bend in the horse when performing a leg yield is away from the direction of movement.
  3. The bend in the horse when performing a half pass is with the direction of movement.
  4. Your horse needs to be able to ground drive.

Well, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The way to teach these movements to the horse is on the ground using your rope halter and lead rope. This is an exercise that requires a fence or arena wall to accomplish. We approach this in stages; on the rail, in the open, and in the saddle. In the first two steps, we don’t worry about the bend in the horse.

Step 1: On the Rail – Introducing Lateral Movement

lateral movement on rail pictureFace your horse into the rail. Move your horse off of pressure away from you. Don’t let your horse back up. Use your lead rope to move the horse sideways. Direct the energy of the tail of the lead rope at the mid-section of the horse. Don’t make a big deal about this.

Look for the front and rear feet to cross over while the horse is moving sideways down the rail. Reward immediately when the horse begins to move sideways. Lower your posture and reward the horse. It’s important to watch the feet and make sure that they cross over while the horse is moving sideways. Don’t ask for too much at first, get one good step, then two, etc. You need to be able to do this from both sides of the horse.

Now go to the other end of the horse. Turn your horse around and have the rear of the horse on the rail. Ask the horse to move off pressure as you did in the above exercise. Don’t let the horse walk forward off the rail. Use the lead rope to move the horse sideways. Look for the front and rear feet to cross over while the horse is moving sideways down the rail. Reward immediately when the horse begins to move sideways. Lower your posture and reward the horse. You need to be able to do this from both sides of the horse too.

This will look a little rough at first, but with time and practice you will get the horse to yield to pressure correctly and you can move off the rail and work without the wall to restrict movement.  

Step 2: In the Open – Lateral Movement with Forward Motionlateral movement in open picture

You need to have your horse soft and working very well on the rail before you can successfully move into the open or your horse will drift too much to accomplish anything.

Move out into the center of an arena, round pen, or open area. You will approach this the same as you did on the rail. You have an added dimension of no support from the rail to keep the horse contained. The horse needs to move forward with as much movement as they move sideways. This is how you teach a leg yield from the ground.

Bend your horse slightly towards you and ask the horse to move off pressure as you did in step 1. Don’t let the horse walk backwards. Begin by ground driving your horse forward while walking near the horse’s mid-section. Use the lead rope to move the horse sideways – twirl the rope at the horse’s mid-section. This is the same as your leg being on the horse. When you get in the saddle, the horse can relate the energy of the rope to your leg asking for lateral movement. Once your horse understands energy from the lead rope, use your hand in a chop chop motion at the horse’s midsection – this is energy too.

At first, your horse is probably going to disengage and move their hindquarters away from you. Keep with it and watch for signs of forward and lateral movement together. Reward this behavior immediately. Look for the front and rear feet to cross over while the horse is moving laterally. Reward immediately when the horse begins to move sideways.

If you can introduce this in steps, the horse will learn much quicker. You need to be able to do this from both sides of the horse too. 

Step 3: In the Saddle

We are assuming that you have been successful with the previous two steps and your horse is under saddle.  We are also assuming that you have control of your body and can move with the horse and understand weight distribution of your body on the horse; forward, backwards, and side to side. You need to be a rider, not a bag of potatoes. We are going to introduce your leg to the horse to ask for direction.

Leg Yield

While on the horse, bend your horse to the opposite direction you want to move. Hold the rein loose on the side you are moving and with a slight bend on the opposite side. Ask for forward movement with your seat. Distribute the weight in your seat 70% in the opposite or off "cheek". By distributing your weight this way to teach, you help the horse find what you are asking -- you open the door for them with the loose rein and free them up to make the lateral steps.

Sit tall, don’t lean your body, stay in a riding posture. Ask for lateral movement with the opposite leg (the side with the bend). This is surprisingly easy for the horse to comprehend. Reward immediately when the horse begins to move sideways.

 Half Pass

The half pass is different from the leg yield in that the horse is bent into the direction that you are moving. This is much more difficult for the horse to accomplish. Don’t work on this until you are solid with the leg yield or you may just confuse the horse.

While on the horse, bend your horse into the direction you want to move. Hold the rein with a slight bend on the side you are moving and loose on the opposite side. Ask for forward movement with your seat. Distribute the weight in your seat 70% in the opposite or off "cheek". I like to think of my seat driving the horse laterally.

Sit tall. Don’t lean your body. Stay in a riding posture. Ask for lateral movement with your leg, the leg opposite of the bend. Reward immediately when the horse begins to move sideways.

And when you get real good at this, don’t get too smug, your can teach your horse to do these exercises with backward movement too.

Next Concept: Trailer Loading

 

There is some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Horses can cause serious injury. Be sensible and don’t attempt anything that is outside your comfort level. This information is intended to illustrate how we apply our training techniques, you are responsible for using this information wisely. If you don’t feel comfortable with your abilities or an exercise, don’t do it! Seek advice or assistance from a professional horse trainer. Stay on the "high side of trouble".

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Updated Sept. 2012