This is a fun exercise that is foundational to my training regimen. It’s working through the opposites so you can really see the horses body. Reading this may take more than 2 minutes but it’s worth it! You want to start at the walk to the right on the long side which means your shoulder and your horses should is to the inside of the arena. You will bend your horse to the LEFT looking outside of the arena. You then leg yield away from the wall. Remember you press the calf with the inside hind and squeeze release the outside hand on the opposite beat – this is the ‘diagonal’ aid. Diagonal aids because it’s in the left leg and right hand and its alternating aids with the footfalls of the horse. The calf presses and releases and the outside hand or ring finger squeezes and release on the outside rein. The horse leg yields away from the rail about 2-3 steps. You might have to ‘bang’ your inside calf on the horses inside side so they get the point to move away from it. The next aid after that needs to be a soft polite press and hopefully a few times will get the horse thinking about what you want. During the leg yield you keep your horse flexed left the entire time. Now, while still keeping the bend to the left – change your aids. Use the outside leg stronger pressing the calf in time with the outside hind on the ground. Use your inside leg as a pole the horse ‘wraps’ around like a banana. Then ‘plié’ back to the rail by ‘crab walking’ your calves over. Keep the hands following the horses head from your shoulders. The inside hand and rein may lift up a finger’s width and a slight loop in the rein as the horse keeps the left bend is normal. Take your time at the walk so you can feel the exercise. First, plan to have one leg yield and plié and then see if you can fit in two on the long side. The next fun challenge is after your leg yield and plié pick up the trot in the left counter bend and a few strides later downward transition to the walk – all with the left bend. No change in your seat or horses flexion. The idea is because ‘opposites attract’ since you are going RIGHT but bending the horse left to the outside of the arena and then doing upward and downward transitions you will see and feel the horse maintain the correct bend both up and down in the transition. Mastering that is a huge step forward in your transitions. Now try the exercise tracking to the LEFT with RIGHT bend so your horse is looking outside of the arena. This exercise stretches the horse to the outside of their body since they are long from nose to tail in a gentle curve. The inside of their body is a muscle contraction since they are ‘bent’ at the rib cage and the poll. When you ask for your transitions at first you may have to work a little harder – clucking, a little kick or tap with the whip but the idea is that the upward eventually is just off a slight squeeze of the calves and you thinking trot. The downward to the walk is the same – at first you may need to ask quite a bit with your abs or half halting through the rein aid. But it should eventually just be your abs and you not following the horse and then walking with your hips and the horse follows. If you don’t’ get all that in one session don’t fret. The exercise itself with help improve the bend of the horse. The horses focus on your aids. It will help you stay quiet and focused on the bend against the direction f travel so you will see and feel it. It’s a great exercise to help you think legs first in the transitions as well as keeping that bend everyone is talking about in the barn. Give your horse ample breaks between to stretch and decompress since this a good work out for them too. Pretty soon you will be able to leg yield and plié back and forth from the wall and within the gaits or go walk to trot and trot to walk.
Stay tuned for next week’s Two-minute Training Tip! If you need help building a training plan you can always email me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our YouTube channel, revelationfarm.com for upcoming events. Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RevelationFm!