Inside Leg To Outside Rein - The Details

By Kathy Farrokhzad. How often have you

heard that term? Sure, it sounds like a pretty simple concept until you try it - from coordinating your aids, to helping your horse de- velop an understanding... it can be more complicated than it looks. I find it helps a lot to

think of this as one whole movement,

rather than

breaking it down into little bits. However, to gain a true understanding, and to begin to train your body, you may need more information in order to make it all happen

in one movement. So let’s break it down.

Final Picture As it can get compli-

cated, I’m going to start with the final picture to give you an overview of what it is and looks like. The action of “inside

leg to outside rein” is meant to create and then maintain bend, without running for- ward or drifting out. In the- ory,

the horse should

respond to your active inside leg by moving away from your leg (in the rib cage area), thereby stepping out toward your outside rein.

Your outside rein can

then become an actor in the movement by either limiting how far the horse can step outwards (as in stopping a leg yield from happening) or half-halting (to keep the horse from speeding up or falling to the forehand). The horse should have

a banana-like curve in the direction of the turn. It is im- portant though to realize that the horse’s spine doesn’t ac- tually “bend” that much - the bend we feel is the result of the hind end and front end stepping into the turn. The degree of the curve

is dependent on the circum-

ference of the circle - the larger the circle, the smaller the bend. A deeper bend will happen on a 10-meter circle or smaller, and this is usually reserved for fairly educated horses (2nd level and up in dressage).

The Details Here is a more detailed

breakdown. 1. Rider’s Torso: Turn your core toward the turn. Look in the direction of the turn (not past the turn). The smaller the turn or circle, the more you turn in yourself. 2. Inside Seat Bone: Weight is on the inside seat bone.

This is because you are going into your turn and want the horse to step up and under your weight. 3. Inside Leg: The inside leg applies pressure (from below the knee down) to the horse’s side. The horse should step away from the pressure. 4. Outside Rein: The outside rein “fills up” when the horse steps away from the inside leg. Now, you can use the outside rein to turn the horse (apply pressure as a neck rein), or half-halt (to slow the leg speed or main- tain balance) or just accept the bend with no further ac- tivity. 5. Outside Leg: The outside leg has a job too. It asks the hind end to also step away from pressure, to the inside. This means that the hind end “wraps around” the inside leg. The hind end can almost do a very small haunches-in to achieve that. 6. Inside Rein: While this rein should be fairly inac- tive, it will open slightly into the direction of the turn (not so much that your arm comes away from your body). It can act as a guiding rein for less experienced horses, or ideally, it will just maintain flexion – for exam- ple, if you have too much pressure on the outside rein, or the horse just turns his head to the outside naturally.

Common Problems Most horse and rider

combinations go through several stages of mistakes as they develop a really good “inside leg to outside rein” feel.

The first thing that will

likely happen when you turn your body in to the direction of the turn is that the horse will just lean in and “fall” to the inside of the arena. This is where your inside leg comes into play. It may take some time to teach your horse to step away, not into,

your leg pressure. Don’t de- spair and keep working on it. Your horse will get better over time. You might shift your

weight to the outside. This happens all the time! While we focus on using our inside leg, we tend to try to move the horse to the outside by throwing our body in that di- rection. Just catch yourself doing it, move back to the inside seat bone, and con- tinue.

The horse will likely

speed up when you first apply your inside leg. This is when an outside half-halt will be useful. Be sure to be crystal clear in explaining that pressure from your in- side leg doesn’t mean “go faster,” but rather, “step away.” Another common prob-

lem might be that you have to learn how much pressure you need from your leg, and how much from your out- side rein. In the meantime, you might end up with a horse that weaves left and right, looking like a squiggly worm! Don’t despair! It’s so much about coordinating body parts, and it will take

time for you to adjust each part as needed. Just keep try- ing, feel for the worm, and steady your aids. The inside leg to out-

side rein combination of aids is used for many purposes, many times throughout a ride. Use it before your horses falls into a circle, or before a turn, or if your horse has a tendency to speed up the legs faster- faster-faster. It helps main- tain or re-establish balance and keep your horse’s inside hind leg active. Have fun!

Bio: Kathy Farrokhzad is an EC coach and author of the Horse Listening book collec- tion.

If you like this sort of

pattern work, join her Prac- tice Sessions Premium Membership, a complete program featuring exercises like the one above, designed to improve specific aspects of the horse and rider. All set up and ready to go, all you have to do is watch the video, print off the PDF Cheat Sheet and head to the barn!

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