Training ~ Lateral Movement ("Printer Friendly" version of this page)
These movements really arent that advanced, but most trainers would like you to think that you cant 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
Well, were 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 dont worry about the bend in the horse.
Step 1: On the Rail Introducing Lateral Movement
Face your horse into the rail. Move your horse off of pressure away from you. Dont 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. Dont 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. Its important to watch the feet and make sure that
they cross over while the horse is moving sideways. Dont 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.
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.
In the Open Lateral Movement with Forward Motion
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. Dont let the horse walk backwards. Begin by ground driving your horse forward while walking near the horses mid-section. Use the lead rope to move the horse sideways twirl the rope at the horses 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 horses 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.
And when you get real good at this, dont get too smug, your can teach your horse to do these exercises with backward movement too.
There is some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Horses can cause serious injury. Be sensible and dont 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 dont feel comfortable with your abilities or an exercise, dont 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