Lateral Work Checklist..
When you are riding lateral movements, do you have a checklist?
1) Plan ahead; It may sound silly, but I have witnessed on many occasions a rider suddenly deciding to ride a movement on the spur of the moment with no planning, therefore resulting in the horse not understanding the aid.
2) Prepare the movement; this goes hand in hand with the planning ahead, you have planned where to ride your movement, now you need to prepare the movement you plan to ride, so half-halt, prepare your position, prepare your approach..
3) Execute the movement; if you have planned and prepared, now your movement should be ridden..
4) FINISH the movement; this section is very, very often forgotten, if you have ridden into a movement, you MUST ride OUT of it too! It may feel natural to let your horse straighten itself after a few steps of your movement, BUT this is a bad habit to allow your horse to get in to, your horse should stay in the movement until YOU change it!
Of all the above pointers, number 4 is most often overlooked, FINISH your movement, and by that I don't mean get to your marker and let your horse carry on as if the movement had never happened, you MUST FINISH what you started, so if you are riding shoulder in for example, you set your horse up, you ride the movement, but what happens at the end? Well a variety of answers can be given, but the correct one would be you apply the aids for the following movement, lets say it is a transition to canter, so you half halt, straighten your horse and then apply your canter aid, this enables your horse to remain on your aids and ready to complete the next task asked of him. This is just one example, but it could just as easily be a trot leg-yield to a walk transition, or a half pass to a flying change, the principles are the same, know where you are going to ride, prepare how you are going to ride, ride the movement then ride OUT of that movement, various levels of knowledge (horse and rider!) will determine what exercise is appropriate, but no matter what level, the 4 pointers on the checklist are compulsory.
Next time you school, have this in mind and notice if there are any pointers missing from your training!