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Lateral-work: the active leg

REF HANB12, flat work, lateral work, active or isolated leg

The active leg action is independent from the other leg. This leg is useful in moving the horse’s haunches on an inside track or maintaining the haunches on the track while the rider is moving the horse’s shoulder on an inside track. In the first case, we call it haunches in, in the second case, we call it shoulder in. In order to practice these exercises, the rider will have to dissociate the actions of his legs but he will also have to coordinate them.

In this lesson, Michel reviews a few basics for the rider to do the correct movements which will make it easier for the horse to understand the requests.

Prepare the lateral movement with a horse that shows impulsion and responsiveness to your aids. The horse must move with a steady rhythm. Slide your outside leg behind the girth. This leg will act as the active leg. The inside leg called the “impulsion leg” maintains the movement forward.
The action of the active leg has to be perpendicular to the horse’s side, in an on-and-off manner and following the rhythm of the horse’s gait.
Walk a few strides with a yielding leg and straighten your horse in the position you’ve started. Maintain the impulsion using both legs.
It’s important to break down each movement in order to be accurate and to make it easy for the horse to understand it.

To remember:

> The rider’s independence of the aids is key if we want the horse to understand the active leg.

> Lateral work has to be started at a walk.

> To be successful with lateral movements, the rider has to keep the horse in a steady speed and constant rhythm.

8 min