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sidepasser
Aug. 15, 2009, 05:55 PM
My trainer tells me to get Tyranna on the outside rein and through lots of trial and error, I can usually do it.

Can someone explain the mechanics of this to me? I don't know what to "feel" for or how to tell if I have done it properly and though trainer has demonstrated and explained, I am still not "getting it" and feel that I only "get it" through luck of the draw.

I am a dressage newbie who has been riding for a little less than a year at dressage. I don't think I understand the terminology used or how to "feel" for it. I did have a wonderful lesson today, but realized that "hit and miss" just isn't getting it. Perhaps someone here can explain in layman's terms exactly what I am supposed to be trying to do?

BTW - I have found dressage to be wonderful, even if I don't get everything "right" I am having so much fun along the way. I do think I should have started this in my twenties and it would have been so much easier, now alas, I am 50, but am a willing pupil and trying very hard to "get it right". My instructor is patient and realizes that due to my age and physical problems I'll never get to PSG or anything and I do appreciate his efforts on my behalf.

I'd like to practice this week on getting my mare on the outside rein,( she does it fine with him) but I believe I am just not understanding exactly what he is asking me to do. I understand leads, etc. but am having a disconnect regarding this. I did get praise today for not crossing my hands over (I am an old western pleasure rider) and that is something I have spent hours working on - quiet hands and not crossing them to turn. Small progress but one I take a bit of pride in!

Thank you in advance - I know this is something I should have learned early on, but like algebra, it is something I am having a great deal of trouble understanding.

slc2
Aug. 15, 2009, 06:54 PM
There's a poster (or used to be!) at Rowe's dressage stables in Okemos, Michigan, that said, 'The secret of dressage is in the outside rein'.

Most people tend to keep the reins very loose (comparatively) when they 'come over to the dark side' (:lol:) from Western Pleasure. There is a tendency to use the inside rein to turn, using a 'plough' rein or opening rein (taking the inside hand away from the neck, to the inside of the turn), or to use a neck rein, in which the outside rein is pressed against the neck, by moving the rein hand over (again toward the inside).

In dressage, reins are more of a 'direct line' to the horse's mouth.

The rider keeps a contact with the horse's mouth with both reins, to turn he gets a little bend with the inside rein by bringing his hand back toward his (same side) hip from the shoulder and using his leg at the girth(as time goes on those signals get more and more subtle).

Most of the time the outside rein is a 'passive holder' - it keeps the connection, and gives forward just to 'follow' the horse's neck bend, not to 'drop the line'. It's a 'bend limiter' or a 'bend allower', but one does very little to allow bend. So you make really a channel, the outside rein is the outside of the channel, the inside rein is the inside of that channel. You always keep a contact, but you can 'let' a little more bend of the neck when you need to.

Sometimes (perhaps as you get on in your lessons), the outside rein can also control the shoulder. Instead of just being a 'passive holder', or a 'bend limiter', it can be used like a 'neck pole' to control the shoulder, and keep it from popping out to the outside too much. You pretend as if the rein is a rigid pole, and bring it closer to the neck, without crossing your hand over the mane.

And even further down the line, you can use your outside rein to keep the horse upright, so he doesn't lean inward, to regulate his rhythm, to collect (gather or package) him, and to not just control the shoulders, but to do things like shoulders-in.

sid
Aug. 15, 2009, 07:24 PM
This is true...but then there is the former hunter rider who opens the outside rein constantly when trying to maneuver corners and bending, basically allowing the horse to counter bend and throw the inside shoulder to the inside.

The outside rein use can be so hard to describe to someone who has been "hand riding the head"...that is pointing the head to where you think you should be going. ;)

It's a whole new concept to newbies and I think one of the most misunderstood and hardest to explain, regardless of how basic it is to those who were brought up in dressage.

It tend to redefine this as "ride the shoulders". That will tell you, by feel, where your inside and outside rein needs to be. Again, not sure I'm articulating this well.

sidepasser
Aug. 15, 2009, 07:41 PM
Thank you both for your insight, this is very hard to understand coming from a western background, but your explanations do help very much. So if I understand what you are saying: the outside rein is a flexible "bar" used used to guide the horse in the proper bend direction? If I am understanding this correctly, I would keep "tension" on the outside rein while allowing the inside rein to remain more flexible to allow the horse to bend around my leg?

It is a guide for the horse to tell the horse "how far she can go" without loosing the forward momentum?

Is that what I am reading? Again, many thanks - where is that book "Dressage for Dummies"? I am trying very hard to understand and have read many books on dressage, but reading and "doing' are two very different things.

angel
Aug. 15, 2009, 07:58 PM
If you are coming from a western background, then think of how a snaffle bit is used for reining. Also, think of how you weight your stirrups for reining.

The outside rein is to control, or block the horse's outside shoulder on a circle. It is accompanied by greater stirrup weighting on the inside stirrup, except when in canter. The inside rein controls the inside shoulder, and it is accompanied with more weight on your outside stirrup (but just barely) when you are on a straight line.

When you use a snaffle bit correctly, one rein is used to "block" one of the horse's shoulders, while the other rein is used for guidance (and remember your stirrup weightings). The goal is for the horse to drape between those two reins, and only need momentary guidance, either from the inside or from the outside. Ideally, you want to keep the horse evenly positioned between the two reins, just as if you were riding western in a curb bit. In western, we call it "neckreining," when the horse needs to be corrected, or the motion changed. It is the touch of the rein to the shoulder, to block it, when we neckrein. If you were training a western snaffle bit horse, you should use the reins in a similar fashion to the dressage snaffle, always remembering the weighting of the stirrups as well.

Have you done any reining? Or have you been on a well-trained western horse? Or has your western been more of the yeehaw variety?

sidepasser
Aug. 15, 2009, 08:01 PM
There's a poster (or used to be!) at Rowe's dressage stables in Okemos, Michigan, that said, 'The secret of dressage is in the outside rein'.

Most people tend to keep the reins very loose (comparatively) when they 'come over to the dark side' (:lol:) from Western Pleasure. There is a tendency to use the inside rein to turn, using a 'plough' rein or opening rein (taking the inside hand away from the neck, to the inside of the turn), or to use a neck rein, in which the outside rein is pressed against the neck, by moving the rein hand over (again toward the inside).

In dressage, reins are more of a 'direct line' to the horse's mouth.

The rider keeps a contact with the horse's mouth with both reins, to turn he gets a little bend with the inside rein by bringing his hand back toward his (same side) hip from the shoulder and using his leg at the girth(as time goes on those signals get more and more subtle).

Most of the time the outside rein is a 'passive holder' - it keeps the connection, and gives forward just to 'follow' the horse's neck bend, not to 'drop the line'. It's a 'bend limiter' or a 'bend allower', but one does very little to allow bend. So you make really a channel, the outside rein is the outside of the channel, the inside rein is the inside of that channel. You always keep a contact, but you can 'let' a little more bend of the neck when you need to.

Sometimes (perhaps as you get on in your lessons), the outside rein can also control the shoulder. Instead of just being a 'passive holder', or a 'bend limiter', it can be used like a 'neck pole' to control the shoulder, and keep it from popping out to the outside too much. You pretend as if the rein is a rigid pole, and bring it closer to the neck, without crossing your hand over the mane.

And even further down the line, you can use your outside rein to keep the horse upright, so he doesn't lean inward, to regulate his rhythm, to collect (gather or package) him, and to not just control the shoulders, but to do things like shoulders-in.

You are correct, when I first began taking lessons I used my inside rein to turn the horse, I opened the rein and didn't drop my seat bone and sat still as a statue - lol..now I have learned through countless hours that is not the proper method to tell my horse to turn. I have almost (though when I get tense or nervous I revert) stopped dropping my inside hand to make a turn and quit opening the rein to turn. I did use a trick though to remind me - I used a large rubber band and looped it over both wrists (not tying it, just stuck both hands through and when I tried to "drop my hand and open it to turn" the rubber band reminded me, no. Drop seat bone, turn upper body in direction of bend and horse will follow. I am not perfect but for the first time today, I got praise for not dropping my inside hand and opening the inside rein like I was driving a plow horse. This after almost 10 months. I am very proud of that wee bit of praise because after many years of loopy reins and using neck reining, it is hard to change.

Can I ask you a question? How long have you been riding dressage? Is there hope for someone who comes to it in a later stage of life? I am having fun with it, I like practicing and seeking perfection and I love how my horse is responding, (she was a noodle when we began and I despaired of her ever traveling in a straight line but now she can walk in a straight line without throwing her hips out to the right and her neck and shoulders to the left). I am not discouraged but I wonder if I shall ever be good enough to ride a Training Level Test A or B? I take one lesson a week and ride by myself the other three days the trainer does not ride - he rides my horse three days a week.

My horse is smart and since she was a "blank slate" practically, this is all the training she has had other than basic starting. I do want to do one show before I get too old and try very hard not to get discouraged regarding my progress, but when I see people at shows and how well they go, I almost despair of ever being that good. Just musing a bit because I do take this as seriously as I took riding and showing western pleasure and want to be good at it, not just adequate.

Again thanks for listening, I have no one in the family to discuss this with and all my friends ride western.

sidepasser
Aug. 15, 2009, 08:07 PM
If you are coming from a western background, then think of how a snaffle bit is used for reining. Also, think of how you weight your stirrups for reining.

The outside rein is to control, or block the horse's outside shoulder on a circle. It is accompanied by greater stirrup weighting on the inside stirrup, except when in canter. The inside rein controls the inside shoulder, and it is accompanied with more weight on your outside stirrup (but just barely) when you are on a straight line.

When you use a snaffle bit correctly, one rein is used to "block" one of the horse's shoulders, while the other rein is used for guidance (and remember your stirrup weightings). The goal is for the horse to drape between those two reins, and only need momentary guidance, either from the inside or from the outside. Ideally, you want to keep the horse evenly positioned between the two reins, just as if you were riding western in a curb bit. In western, we call it "neckreining," when the horse needs to be corrected, or the motion changed. It is the touch of the rein to the shoulder, to block it, when we neckrein. If you were training a western snaffle bit horse, you should use the reins in a similar fashion to the dressage snaffle, always remembering the weighting of the stirrups as well.

Have you done any reining? Or have you been on a well-trained western horse? Or has your western been more of the yeehaw variety?

No yeehaw variety, I have shown futurity snaffle bit horses and AQHA shows in western pleasure. Unfortunately I have never had the pleasure of riding a reining horse, all I know about reiners is from my friend who won a Rookie championship showing her mare.

I am very familiar with neck reining, so in dressage if I drop the weight into the inside stirrup and "hold" the outside rein, that would be considered "on the outside rein" if I keep Tyr balanced between the two? Same as WP, when I want to turn I drop my weight in the inside stirrup, lay the outside rein on the neck and turn in the direction of the bend? Using the outside rein to hold the shoulder and the bend? However, I don't use the snaffle bit two handed "opening rein" which is acceptable in very young horses in two year old classes?

If that is it, then the bulb just came on. Terminology is different but the end result is the same.

sid
Aug. 15, 2009, 08:13 PM
Just think of where you want the energy of each part of the horse to be free to go. The outside rein can be thought of a little bit of the "wall" they need to hit to engage, bend and adapt to that "closure" with the other side of their body.

Think about containing a square box of "jello" so nothing can fall out of that box in a great degree. With young horses, that kind of containment can cause claustrophia...but at time passes they do learn to feel the paramaters you have set for them as you bring them along to have the strenght and self control to do so.

Again, I teach by feel and I'm not so hot at articulating things very well from a brain perspective..;)

slc2
Aug. 15, 2009, 08:46 PM
"Is there any hope"

???? Why of course! If 'hope' means instantly starting to pull in those blue ribbons at big competitions, probably not, that takes a wee bit more time :)

Anyone of any age, starting at any time, gets exactly out of it what they put into it. If you make the effort, and practice, and get good help, you will be richly rewarded and so will your horse.

Dressage rewards people who are willing to go out there and practice. There is no such thing as being a 'natural' at dressage or having 'talent'. It is all about practice. The more you practice the better you get. All you need is wanting to do it.

Don't worry a thing about being confused or having many questions - DON'T try to learn all the theory at once, don't try to understand everything instantly, and don't over-mull or over-think and get yourself frantic. Things become clearer with time. And PLEASE....don't listen to anything on internet bulletin boards...:)

Listen to your instructor, try to do what he says, focus on just that, don't overwhelm yourself with theories, just follow what the instructor says - take every ride as a success, no matter what happens, and forget everything else. One day at a time.

sidepasser
Aug. 15, 2009, 09:35 PM
Oh Slc2- I have no hopes of bringing home blues, I just want Tyranna to be the best she can be at dressage. I am not doing this for me, but for my horse who has learned so much over the past year. When I first got her, goodness it was a guess as to which way she was going down the center line. Her hips would swing to the right and her head and neck to the left, she knew nothing of halting, much less square, threw her nose straight up to the Heavens as if she were star gazing and would stretch one back leg out into the next county. She really knew nothing.

I thought about what would be best for her. She is a TWH. Strike One against her for dressage. She wanted to just "go", the faster the better for her in her mind, never mind stopping or turning. I could have made her "a trail horse" - nothing wrong with that, they are specialists in their own right, but I thought Tyr needed more. She needed to learn to listen to me, to halt when I asked instead of ten miles down the road, heck she needed to stand still when I asked her to halt instead of backing up and dancing sideways.

So I began this journey with her to teach her manners under saddle and what is expected at all gaits. Now this is not a young horse in years ( she is 7), but in training, she's a three year old..so trainer took her back to the basics and we have worked for one year on walk/halt - step pace/halt transitions. Not much canter work at all.

I thought dressage would be good for her and if she needed more training, then so did I. So no great hopes of getting all those blues - I wish! lol..what I am seeking out of all this training and money for lessons is a horse that will carry me into my older age, supple and compliant and obedient to the aids and not afraid (she is just now getting to the point where she isn't afraid and has stopped "scrambling about" like a crab). I think part of that is because she didn't know what to expect and she likes the regime of dressage. She knows that I nor the trainer will ask her to do more that what she is capable of so she is starting to relax and pay attention.

This is a LONG road for me, being one that chased points and money in the western world, and in the english world, so far, all the money has flowed out instead of in, but I am having a wonderful time with it. I do want to take her to a small TWH dressage show - but she doesn't do pure TWH gaits so she likely will not place, but if we do go, it will be an exercise in "here we are and this is what we can do" but no expectations of ribbons since she step paces instead of doing a true running walk. Hopefully we will not be thrown out of the ring - but will be allowed to do our test and even knowing we won't place, she will show what she has learned.

I asked if there is hope because most of this is very new to me. My trainer gives me instruction and homework and I practice on the days he doesn't work Tyranna. I see so many of you dressage folks doing this so easily ( I know, it is not easy), but at age 50, it can be very hard to learn.

Again thank you - I know y'all get tired of newbies asking the "same ole questions" but sometimes someone can explain things far better than the instructor or in different terms and the light comes on.

slc2
Aug. 15, 2009, 09:43 PM
i NEVER get tired of newbies. We're all newbies anway, at one thing or another in dressage. Welcome, welcome aboard and have a good time.:)

angel
Aug. 16, 2009, 06:15 AM
Yes, you have the idea as to what I was trying to explain. Now let's take it one step further, using western as a comparison. In western riding, you will see the rider lift the reins, generally both sides at the same time, as the rider tries to get the horse's hindquarters under better and the front end lifted. The rider really takes the reins rather high, and when doing this, the rider's elbows move away from the rider's body..like wings. I am sure you have seen this. The rider is then asking the horse to pivot either right or left, depending on what is needed. You are trying to get the higher front end with the more tucked hindquarters.

Well, we do not do this movement to this extreme in dressage. We really want the rider to keep the upper arms vertical with the torso and draped close to that torso. Any adjustment of the height of the reins must come from the change in the angle of the rider's elbow(s). We can still lift a rein when needed, but only one rein, and only by bending the elbow.

The lifted rein is used to help to maintain contact on a crooked horse when the weighted diagonal stirrup is not enough. Ideally, when you step into a stirrup, the horse's diagonal shoulder will lift. But, with a crooked horse, one of those shoulders likes to stay on the ground too much. If we cannot maintain contact with the horse's mouth as we step into the diagonal stirrup, we lose the energy, and the adjustment we want to happen, will not. So to maintain that contact momentarily as the adjustment is made, we lift the rein slightly as we step into the diagonal stirrup. When we lift a rein, it is to give additional blockage to the shoulder on that side. For many horses, it is the rein on the right side that needs the greater lift, and the stirrup on the left side that needs the greater weighting. That is not always the case, and it is the rider's job to feel if the horse is not bending enough (needs more contact/lift on the outside rein and more weight on the inside stirrup), or is bending by too great a degree (needs more contact/lift on the inside rein and more weight on the outside stirrup. Hope that helps make it a bit more clear for you.

slc2
Aug. 16, 2009, 06:27 AM
To the OP - angel's answer to every training problem and to every riding question as long as I've been on this bb, is to raise the hands or alternatively, one hand. Lifting your hands does not lift the horse's shoulders, nor does it remedy a host of other riding problems. You won't find a dressage instructor teaching people to lift their hands - most of us spend years trying to NOT do this, LOL.

angel
Aug. 16, 2009, 08:01 AM
You must be confusing me with someone else, slc2. I almost never post. But, you are correct in that lifting a rein does not lift the shoulder. What it does is act as a stop for the energy created by the extra weighting of the diagonal stirrup. Otherwise, that energy is deflected away from the shoulder.

What I am trying to do for this person is relate her western training to what she is being taught in dressage. Sorry you have never done any western.

sidepasser
Aug. 16, 2009, 08:26 AM
Thank you for the explanation and how it relates to western riding.

Do either of you have any suggestions for good instructional videos that demonstrate basic dressage? Something along the lines of "Basic Beginner Dressage"? I have a few books but my land some of them are highly technical and more suitable for those who have ridden this discipline for years. One also has to be careful what one watches, not everything is considered "good" dressage either.

Thanks again for your help!

slc2
Aug. 16, 2009, 08:45 AM
No video can show everything perfect. But it is generally still showing good examples to follow. Personally, I far prefer videos of 'imperfect' riders like the videos of Martin Schaudt, teaching his junior student. It's a far, far more realistic idea of how riders progress. All riders make mistakes and have weak and strong points. I prefer to see something realistic, including the mistakes students typically make (since all students make the same mistakes at the same stages of training, and usually, the same things are 'wrong' with every rider at any given stage).

Caveat emptor, though, some people will tell you the best riders in the world are 'terrible' and all (or more charitably, MOST of) the judges are blind, the world has gone to hades in a bucket, and only their instructor or someone they admire from the past, has the true Gospel of Dressage.

I hate to encourage you to get confused by watching a lot of different videos with different philosophies and opinions. There are just as many bad dressage videos out there as good ones. A few actually rather popular 'talking heads' in dressage have very little experience or credentials or even training themselves, but speak to a lot of people and are very popular. There is an absolutely incredible attempt on the part of many sheisters to make dressage seem very, very complex and esoteric. It's not. It's simple. It's not easy to do always, but the concepts it is based on are very simple.

A book that is very well worn is A Practical Dressage Manual by Lindquist. It is very sensible and simple.

www.dressagetrainingonline.com and other sites like it provide multiple videos from past and present, many of them instructional, many of them from leading trainers and riders. Many web sites like www.horsehero.com offer free videos, but for example that site seems to not be on a very powerful server and at busy times the videos might be kind of jerky.

A good for sale video (tack shops, tack shop web sites) that gives you the idea of what the dressage figures and patterns look like is 'On the Levels', which shows better-than-average riders doing the tests. It doesn't even need to be the most recent version - any of them are a good general intro.

Volumes 1 and 2 of Kyra Kyrkland's DVD are very good. Complete Dressage Training Series with Dr. Reiner Klimke dvd, volumes 1 and 2, are basic things and very easy to follow.

Klimke's Dressage in Detail vol. 1 covers loosening exercises and trot work and half halts.

sidepasser
Aug. 16, 2009, 10:31 AM
Thank you Slc2 - I see I have some studying to do, I would imagine that there are as many "bad" dressage riders as there are bad riders in other disciplines, it's helpful to get recommendations of those riders/instructors who are generally thought of as "good" - the ones that have a basic understanding and the ability to illustrate proper technique.

Now off to cut the grass before the rain begins, I'm fortunate that I have grass with so many people in drought, so won't complain though it is very humid here today. After grass cutting, while it rains, I'll go to dressagetrainingonline and view the videos there.

slc2
Aug. 16, 2009, 11:14 AM
Well, I wasn't so much saying to be careful because there are bad riders because most riders are 'bad' in any type of riding, in the sense that most aren't super serious and don't get a lot of lessons or because they're just starting out, but because there are many trainers and instructors who teach dressage, but don't really understand it or teach it properly.

The training online sites charge a monthly fee, I think it's around 35 dollars a month.