Goal: Before riding out, be
able to move your horse laterally
and move his shoulder or hip
Wellmann starts riders o; by
leg-yielding o; of and on to the
rail. Begin away from the fence at
a walk, then leg-yield toward the
rail. The straight line and visual
barrier of the rail can help you
keep your horse’s body parallel
as you work on leg-yielding. You
want the shoulders, ribcage and
hip moving together as a unit.
Wellmann says that the ability to
shift your horse’s shoulders or hip
independently can help when the
gate is at an awkward angle, such
as up- or downhill.
The ultimate goal is to be
able to open and close a gate
safely while on the trail, whether
riding alone or with a partner.
If you’re taking a horse out
for the first time, Wellmann
suggests riding with a trail buddy
that’s experienced with gates.
Also, communicate with the
other rider about the level of
experience your horse has with
gates or other trail obstacles.
“Take it slow when you first
introduce the gate, or allow your
horse to watch another horse
first,” says Wellmann. “People
When working the gate, watch how your position affects your horse’s body.
Unconsciously shifting your weight toward the gate may pressure him to
turn in to it, allowing a potentially dangerous situation to occur.
“You should always keep your eyes facing front, or no further back
than your leg,” says Sharon Wellmann, a Texas-based trainer who teaches
horsemanship skills to all-around riders. “If you need to see behind you,
ask the horse to back up. When you look behind, your body twists and
cues your horse to move his hip out while pulling his head and neck in to
the gate. This can cause him to lift his head over the top of the gate and
get the bit hung up. ”
If this happens, do not give in to the natural inclination to pull on the
reins to dislodge the bit. Instead, use the skills challenge from pre-trail
ride work and ask your horse to move his shoulders away from the gate.
He will naturally lift his head, remedying a dangerous situation.
Begin working on
by leg-yielding at
a walk. A fence
provides a natural
line for you and
your horse to follow.
You should feel
the horse’s hip and
away from pressure.