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Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements

From Cavalry to Competition: Essential Dressage Movements for Every Horse

Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements

Whether you ride Western or English, elementary dressage movements help increase your horse's athleticism and performance. Learn how to correctly perform a turn on the forehand, half halt and leg yield in our FREE guide Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements.

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Download your FREE Dressage Moves report from MyHorse Daily and learn how to properly perform dressage movements like the leg yield, half halt and more.

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor Amy Herdy

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor Amy Herdy

What do you know about dressage tests? Dressage levels? No?

There’s nothing more humbling than realizing you don’t know any dressage moves during the first 30 seconds of your first dressage lesson.

My dressage instructor, a very patient woman named Patty LeBlanc (http://www.cappaleigh.com/html/patty_bio.html), thought it would be a good idea to see if my horse and I knew any dressage movements, so she asked for a leg yield. My mare, who up to that point had done trail riding but never equestrian dressage, didn’t leg yield so much as sidepass. Fail. As for the rest of the dressage movements—including the turn on the forehand and half halt, we weren’t any better, although if she had asked us to open a gate we could have shown her a passable turn on the forehand.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, a turn on the forehand while trail riding is where you ask your horse to pivot their hips and back legs around the end of a gate while you open it.

In dressage, it’s helpful if a horse knows how to leg yield in order to learn the turn on the forehand, so they can move away from your leg pressure.

So if you are plunging into the world of dressage levels and dressage tests, or just want to learn any of the dressage movements, you might want to start with the leg yield, which is one of the easier dressage moves.

And if you get ambitious after the leg yield and want to tackle the turn on the forehand and the half halt, well, we have a guide waiting for you at the end of this piece that will show you all those dressage moves.

But first, from Practical Horseman magazine, here’s the leg yield.

Photos by Mandy Lorraine

Here’s How: Leg Yield Your Horse
By Volker Brommann

Dressage trainer Volker Brommann provides an easy introduction to the basic and useful leg yield for your horse.

What the leg yield is: Walking or trotting, your horse moves forward and sideways by crossing his inside legs in front of his outside legs while he keeps his body straight (except for a slight flexion at the poll and jaw away from the direction he’s going).

Why you need it: This most basic lateral movement…
• gives you the feel of making your horse go from the inside leg to the outside rein;
• develops your ability to coordinate weight, leg, and rein aids;
• teaches your horse to understand and respond to those aids;
• supples, loosens and straightens your horse;
• encourages him to step farther under his center of gravity and carry himself;
• increases his ability to round his back, stay straight in transitions and follow a track on the flat and while jumping;
• lays the groundwork for more advanced lateral movements, such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, turn on the forehand and haunches, and half-pass; and
• is a required dressage movement in First Level Tests Two and Three.

Half Halt, Leg Yield and Turn on the Forehand; Oh My!

Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements

Get your kick start in dressage with three elementary dressage movements in our FREE guide Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

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Mandy Lorraine

Step One: On The Rail
Photo 1. In the walk here (later I’ll do the same work at the trot), I’ve cut the turn to the long side and approached the rail at a 30-degree angle. Now, so that my horse moves fluently into a leg-yield, the moment his forehand reaches the track, I do three things simultaneously:
• I weight my inside seat bone (the right here) a little more than the left by turning my right hip slightly forward and bringing my outside (left) leg back behind the girth, where I can use it both as a driving aid and to keep his haunches from swinging out.
• I move my inside-right-leg (inset A) behind the girth just this much (less than my left leg on the outside) to begin pushing him sideways (later, in the open, I’ll begin pushing him forward and sideways).
• And to ask him to look right (inset B), I flex my right hand inward just enough that I can see his inside nostril, much as if I wanted him to look around the arc of a 20-meter circle.

Once he begins leg-yielding, I use my inside hand normally (as I’m doing in photos 4 and 5 below) and apply only as much inside-leg pressure as I need to keep him moving steadily and rhythmically down the rail. I control the amount of bend and keep his neck straight with consistent feel on my outside (left) rein. I’ll ask for a few steps of leg-yield, then give him a break by straightening and walking or trotting forward, then ask for more leg-yield on the next long side. When he’s really comfortable with this much angle and I feel the rhythm and balance are good…

Photo 2. …I ask for a little more angle.
Photo 3. This is the maximum angle I’d want; more and we’d risk losing the quality of his rhythm and balance.

Try Your Hand at Dressage

Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements

Improve your horse's balance, rhythm and movement with three elementary dressage movements in our FREE guide Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

All fields are required.

Step Two: In The Open

Photo 4. Working now in the trot, this angle–slightly greater than we had on the rail–is about the one you’d want for the First Level tests. To produce it, I use a little more inside (right) leg and (so my horse doesn’t hurry from my leg) a little more outside rein. My focus is on keeping the rhythm and balance; as long as I can feel him stepping forward and sideways evenly, I can ask for this much angle. Here the evenness of the pairs of legs tells me the rhythm is good: His right front and left hind are stepping leftward and…
Photo 5. …now the other pair follows. The important thing to remember is that your horse must go easily forward and sideways, so that you feel you’re swinging along with him. Apply just enough leg and hand to get this result; when he responds, lighten your aids until you need to add them again. (The moment you press him sideways beyond his ability to keep his rhythm and balance, you’ll feel him push you onto your outside seat bone, fall through your outside leg and rein and get strong in your hand. Go straight ahead to regroup; then try again with less angle.)
Volker Brommann (http://www.volkerbrommann.com/) passed his Bereiter exams in Germany in 1980 under the tutelage of German professional champion Walter Christensen. He came to the U.S. in the early 1980s, continuing to return to Germany regularly to ride with Walter and, after Walter’s death, with Klaus Balkenhol. Volker Brommann is now based out of California.

Amy Herdy

Amy Herdy

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor

Could Dressage Moves Help Your Everyday Riding?

Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements

Learn how you can improve your riding by incorporating dressage moves into your training regimen in our FREE guide Dressage Moves: The Turn on the Forehand, Half Halt and Leg Yield Dressage Movements.

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