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View Full Version : How to let go of the inside rein?!



dghunter
Feb. 24, 2011, 10:33 AM
I keep too strong of a hold on my inside rein (worse when going to the left than the right). My horse pulls on the left rein when going to the left and of course I hold, it's a vicious cycle. My trainer has been working with me and it's getting better but it still feels awkward to not have a strong hold on it. Any tips?

ideayoda
Feb. 24, 2011, 10:52 AM
Do ubersteichen....Reach up and touch the neck repeatedly by straightening the elbow for a step (keep weight in inside/pulsing the inside calf to keep the horse connected to outside rein). Horses do no pull unless people do, so the rider learns to substitute a different behavior and so will the horse.

fleeced
Feb. 24, 2011, 11:14 AM
Every time you think you have to much inside rein, use more inside leg. It's called replacement of aid, pulse your inside leg or a breathing leg and small releases of inside rein. It is intuitive to go to the hand first and not the leg.

Janet
Feb. 24, 2011, 11:49 AM
Personally, I find it helps to actively think about maintianing good contact (e.g. NOT releasing) with the OUTSIDE rein.

THEN I make a point of actively releasing the inside rein every stride or so.

It needs to be inside leg to OUTSIDE REIN.

Inside leg to "nothing" doesn't work.

FlightCheck
Feb. 24, 2011, 11:50 AM
both of the above examples are good.

You can also retrain yourself to ONLY use your fingers on the inside rein - that is, your hand/arm does not move, only your fingers are allowed to "open and close", no pulling! Amazing when you start doing that to realize how heavy you've allowed them to be on the inside rein (not that I know anything about that)

meupatdoes
Feb. 24, 2011, 11:55 AM
Make sure you get a good response to your left leg.

Can you turn early up the quarterline and have him push out back to the rail with his nose looking IN?

Can you do a clockwise circle with him counterbent looking LEFT?

Janet is correct that inside leg to "nothing" doesn't work, but the outside rein can't receive anything if the inside leg hasn't effectively sent anything over to it. Often the reason there is nothing in the outside rein is because the horse is still leaning on the left leg and 'heavier' on the left side of its body. People go to the hand ('more outside rein') to fix it rather than to the inside leg.

The inside leg needs to send the energy to the outside in order for the outside rein to have anything to receive. If the horse steps to the outside, the left rein will get lighter because less of the horse is "in" it.

Use your inside leg to move the horse away from your inside rein.

dghunter
Feb. 24, 2011, 12:42 PM
The inside leg thing is definitely true. My left leg is weaker than my right leg and I have a harder time using that leg.

I'll definitely try the suggestions! Thanks!

mp
Feb. 24, 2011, 01:03 PM
I have the same problem -- my left arm gets stiff and when that happens, I lose my inside seat bone and it all goes to hell in a handbasket. :p You've gotten lots of great ideas. Here's what works for me.

Make sure your thumb is on top. Don't turn your hand -- that locks up your forearm. As you ride, consciously work on keeping your chest open and your left elbow close to your body, but loose -- if it's tight you can't yield the rein.

Finally, as you give the rein, stretch down with your left leg and think hip bone slightly forward. Or for me, think "heels out." That puts my seat bone in the correct position, so my horse can really come through with the inside leg.

I did this last night at a trot, first with no stirrups and then no reins. It was like I had power steering. Fun!

AllWeatherGal
Feb. 24, 2011, 02:36 PM
FWIW, you're on the right track and the advice describes great replacement behaviors ... my addition is patience with yourself and your horse.

It's difficult to change a habit.

But so worth it!

Ibex
Feb. 24, 2011, 03:50 PM
We have the same problem in the other direction! My trainer took us back to a baby exercise (one that I also saw Stefan Peters doing with a youngster at a clinic). Work on the long sides in counter flexion, with 10m circles with correct bend in the corners. Work your way up being straight but still *thinking* counterflexion, maintaining it with inside leg/outside rein with 10m stretchy circles at A and C instead of the corner circles.

Sounds simple, but it basically "uses" your inclination to grab the inside rein to change how you think. Work wonders for us!!!

TickleFight
Feb. 24, 2011, 04:05 PM
I used to have this exact same problem... like really, really bad. My horse at the time was probably the smartest horse I've ever ridden and she would do anything to make her life easier, and for a time this meant training me to hang on the inside rein.

This is what I did and it worked for me and my horse.

1. I started chipping away at the trot first, but you must make sure your horse is forward and moving with good impulsion at any gait. Also, this problem is most effectively fixed at the sitting trot so make sure your seat is good.

2. Stay an a 20 meter circle or shoulder-in down the long side.

3. This is where it starts to get tough for a while: shorten your reins so that you don't have more contact, but your hands are more extended towards the horses mouth.

4. Keep your hands STILL AND TOGETHER! You may raise them or lower them, or give the inside rein for a couple strides but that is all. NEVER move your outside rein towards the outside of the circle or cross it over the withers to take up contact. This will take a lot of inside leg, but eventually your horse will learn to seek contact with the outside hand.

The problem is that your horse has trained you to take up contact and support it with the inside rein. This is backwards. Your horse must actively seek contact with you. It took me a few weeks of riding like this until we were confirmed in all three gaits... but once we were a whole bunch of things started falling into place. Riding inside leg to outside rein will improve your horse's self carriage, and you may find (as I did) that releasing the inside rein for a few strides is not only a good way to test that the horse is carrying itself, but also a good way to make the horse "stand up" when it is falling the inside. For some reason it also made half-halts much more effective.

Good Luck!

dghunter
Feb. 24, 2011, 04:41 PM
You guys are the best :D I can't wait to go out and try some of these! It can be so hard to break a habit but hopefully at least one of these exercises will work!! I also have a problem keeping my thumbs on top. It's like you guys know me :uhoh::winkgrin: I won't be riding again until Saturday since it's trainer's ride tomorrow and today is his day off but I'm looking forward to my ride on Saturday! Hopefully we'll start chipping away at it!

EqTrainer
Feb. 24, 2011, 05:32 PM
You have gotten some great responses. Here is some more food for thought -

The side you pull on is also the direction your horse overbends to, meaning he turns his neck and head but not his body. So in order to feel like you are turning him you pull more, and he jacknifes his neck and head but still doesnt turn his body. Some horses are so adept at this that they actually pivot. Part of the fix here is that you have to learn that you can turn the horse JUST off your outside aids, without using your inside rein at all. As long as you feel you cannot turn the horse otherwise, you will always go back to and rely on your inside rein to drag the horse with your hand, rather than pushing him over, and then ultimately bending him to turn. Which leads to...

That turning and bending are not the same thing. You need to be able to simply turn off your outside aids, before you can bend around your inside leg. As people have already said in Different ways, you need to have outside aids to oppose, or push at, in order for your inside aids to work. To ever really effectively ride you have to be able to do this, it enables you to get on any horse and quickly establish steering. IMO teaching this step is frequently overlooked, which is why you see people who can never let go of their inside rein.

On that same note, it is important to understand that your horse does not change sides when you change directions, and that he does not have a good side or a bad side, he just has a stiff (the direction he does not easily bend his neck to) side and a hollow (the side he overbends his neck and head to) side and *no matter what direction you are riding in, you have to address the same issues* or he will become more stiff and more hollow instead of developing evenly. This is hard to get your head around sometimes but its worth understanding because it is key to gymnasticizing a horse efficiently.

You also need to look at how you position your body. The side you pull on.. Is the side you turn your entire upper body to. You must actively practice changing your inside and your outside from your heel to seatbone to hip to elbow to shoulder, really bringing your new outside back and your new inside forward. Eventually your assymetry will become minor, although if you develop enough awareness of it you will always know it is there and fortunately, how to fix it.

Last, you do have to force yourself to give up that rein LOL accepting that it will make you uncomfortable to feel like you lose control but until you do, you will never experience true power steering on a horse. Its worth it!

lorilu
Feb. 24, 2011, 07:10 PM
This is a great thread.... thanks for starting it!

I find that I look too far in,and that makes me pull the inside rein... so i am training myself to look over the OUTSIDE ear (overcompensating to break the habit). It has really helped.

ALso, here is a link to a thread on the outside rein from UDBB:
http://www.ultimatedressage.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=200515 You might find some of it helpful, I know I did.

L

princessfluffybritches
Feb. 24, 2011, 07:19 PM
Oooo, I am learning so much from this! It's fun to learn what other people do to solve these things.

KateR
Feb. 24, 2011, 09:44 PM
I have exactly the same problem, thanks for the tips! :)

I find that riding with the idea of keeping my horse in the 'channel' between my inside and outside aids really helps me with this, it stops me letting him fall to the right by forgetting my outside aids.

Whitfield Farm Hanoverians
Feb. 24, 2011, 10:37 PM
Normally when you are in a pulling contest with your horse on the inside rein he is not respecting your inside leg or your OUTSIDE rein. You try to push him off your inside leg & most horses will just speed up, not lighten up UNLESS he respects your outside rein.
My favorite exercise makes this so easy to learn at the walk where both you & your horse can figure it out easily.
*Start with riding straight on the track to the right.
*Slowly leg yield to the right on a diagonal line to a distance of about 2 meters off the wall. This makes your horse bend towards the wall (to the left) as he steps towards the center of the arena.
*Continuing with the same inside leg (left leg) & outside rein (right rein) do a turn on the forehand, slowly.
*When turn is completed you then continue to leg yield back to the wall & now you can do it in the other direction.
This exercise makes your horse learn that he has to move off your inside leg but cannot go through your outside rein. The turn on the forehand shows him that he has to not just move off your leg but really move DEEPLY off your leg & as that drives him deeper into the outside rein you show him that he cannot run through it by keeping him on the turn with that outside rein. Don't try to do it in one spot at first, just front feet on a smaller circle than the back feet. Let it flow but only at the pace & size you want. This exercise is great to make a horse think about the true connection between the inside leg & outside rein. When you both "get it" you'll find that he'll be VERY light on the inside rein & your outside rein will truly be the WOAH & GO rein it is meant to be as well as him being sharper off your inside leg.
As you ride circles, corners, etc. anytime you're losing the inside leg to outside rein connection, slow down, go back to walk & do the leg yield into the turn on the forehand again to remind both of you of the connection.
Check out a youtube video of JJ Tate doing a square at the walk with forehand turns in her video of keeping the back supple (I think that's the title).
Make it your goal to be able to leg yield into & out of a turn on the forehand at any time. It will make all the difference in a calm, easy way so that your horse can truly learn it. Also remember to use your inside leg in rhythm with the walk. As your inside hip falls & swings naturally in towards the horse, just accentuate that motion. That's when his inside hind is off the ground & you can actually push it under/into your outside hand. Same thing at the trot. Be sure you're pushing when you're rising. If you can't push while rising with the lower leg, push towards your outside hand with your thigh. Have a great time
jj tate's video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZXHOE3lB4A

Alexie
Feb. 25, 2011, 06:58 PM
One of the great tips picked up from dressage in lightness by sylvia loch was the thought of making room with the inside rein (and leg and seatbone) to allow the horse to move into the direction wanted.

also if your reins are short enough and yet with a light rubber band feeling to the contact, when you turn your inside hand will stay with the outside hand as a pair, like tickle fight said, the contact is not greater but the reins are shorter.

as you don't need to move ur inside hand to turn your balance is not kicked out of touch by a hand movement which is a great help to the horse and lets him turn easier and with less effort from u both

lots of good stuff in the answers above so will end this post here

lorilu
Feb. 25, 2011, 07:13 PM
My favorite exercise makes this so easy to learn at the walk where both you & your horse can figure it out easily.
*Start with riding straight on the track to the right.
*Slowly leg yield to the right on a diagonal line to a distance of about 2 meters off the wall. This makes your horse bend towards the wall (to the left) as he steps towards the center of the arena.
*Continuing with the same inside leg (left leg) & outside rein (right rein) do a turn on the forehand, slowly.
*When turn is completed you then continue to leg yield back to the wall & now you can do it in the other direction.


I can't wait to try this one.... but one question - is the ToF 180 degrees? So you are going in the opposite direction? (that's the only way I can visualize it, hope it;s right).

L

EqTrainer
Feb. 25, 2011, 07:25 PM
I do it riding a square.

Petstorejunkie
Feb. 25, 2011, 07:30 PM
Do ubersteichen....Reach up and touch the neck repeatedly by straightening the elbow for a step (keep weight in inside/pulsing the inside calf to keep the horse connected to outside rein). Horses do no pull unless people do, so the rider learns to substitute a different behavior and so will the horse. I tried this today and found it very useful. My issue is I forget to push with my inside leg and *sometimes* my horse forgets to respond when I remember.

Vesper Sparrow
Feb. 25, 2011, 10:25 PM
My horse is one of those smart little buggers who, if he is in a humorous mood and I am pulling too much on the inside rein, will start popping his shoulder out and jackknifing. If I am snoozing and am not paying attention to what is happening, this leads me to panic and pull on the inside rein more. At this point, if he is really feeling humorous, he may let himself be taken over completely by centripetal force and leave the circle altogether! He usually does it in the exact same corner of the arena every time, so it has become a bit of a game with us. I usually swear under my breath at myself, let go of the inside rein, and take a firmer hold on the outside and all is well.

I found putting my inside hand forward helps. I also spent a few sessions with my coach being required to hold onto the breastplate or bucking strap with the errant inside hand, to make me stop from pulling. Basically, I have to remind myself of it all the time. That inside hand seems to have a life all its own sometimes!

bits619
Feb. 25, 2011, 10:54 PM
have to say this is one of my most common issues, on just about any horse i ride. Sigh to the frustration level :)

Whitfield Farm Hanoverians
Feb. 25, 2011, 11:19 PM
Hi Lorilu,
Yep, the turn on the forehand is 180 so that you end up going back in the opposite direction. By leg yielding out of the TOF, you end up on the wall but now on the new rein.
The video of JJ Tate shows it on the square but I really love this leg yield into & out of the TOF as it truly shows the horse & rider the power of the inside leg to outside hand connection. It really makes you have great control of your leg yields when you master it.
You might have to start with a smaller TOF such as on the square but should end up easily doing the full 180 & able to just flow between the LY/TOF/LY-change rein-LY/TOF/LY. I love this exercise & it's lots of fun. Let me know how it goes!!!

alterhorse
Feb. 26, 2011, 12:17 AM
You could try a simple beginner exercise:

Take a short riding crop and place it on the top of both your hands, and put your thumbs over the crop to hold on to it.

Then ride while holding onto the crop.

See what happens. :)

lorilu
Feb. 27, 2011, 10:12 PM
Hi Lorilu,
Yep, the turn on the forehand is 180 so that you end up going back in the opposite direction. By leg yielding out of the TOF, you end up on the wall but now on the new rein.
The video of JJ Tate shows it on the square but I really love this leg yield into & out of the TOF as it truly shows the horse & rider the power of the inside leg to outside hand connection. It really makes you have great control of your leg yields when you master it.
You might have to start with a smaller TOF such as on the square but should end up easily doing the full 180 & able to just flow between the LY/TOF/LY-change rein-LY/TOF/LY. I love this exercise & it's lots of fun. Let me know how it goes!!!


I tried this yesterday at the walk. It was fun! And the trot afterwards was great - really on the aids = Ill try it at the trot soon!

L

Gloria
Feb. 28, 2011, 08:16 PM
Is your horse stronger on the right side and weaker on the left side? Does your saddle have tendency to slid to right side?

If I'm to guess, his right coup is probably lower than his left when he moves, more prominent when going at left rein because he tries to places his right hind more under his belly, and his left hind kind of flay out toward inside of the arena to avoid weight bearing. This problem manifests itself more clearly on left rein. What riders usually see is his right shoulder pop out, when the problem is actually his left hind. And of course the next thing you know, the rider is hanging onto the inside rein for dear life.

If this is the case, I really don't recommend using more inside leg because the tendency is more inside leg cause more outside shoulder to pop out, and from there life just getting harder and harder. If you are a strong rider and can keep a very strong outside rein while trying to use more inside leg, sure, this strategy might work because the theory behind it is sound and true. Or it might be a disaster if the horse is simply not understanding he can put his left hind underneath himself more. If you are somehow like me, I'd rather find something easier dealing with this kind of horses. :)

One thing that is very effective in acheiving this is to go on the left rein at walk and do mini haunch out to pop his shoulder back inside and his left hind more underneath himself. Go down the rail for a few steps for both of you to get the feeling, and then very very carefully straighten him out down the rail.

You may have to use a lot of outside leg at the front of your leg (your shin) to encourage him to move his shoulders inside (you may even have to use your whip on his right shoulder to begin with if he is very adamant about it). You may need to move your old inside leg (or new outside leg when haunch out - either way, it's the left leg) a bit back toward his haunches to encourage him to move his haunch away from inside of the arena and toward the fence - hence more underneath himself. You may have to repeat this exercise a million of times. Also, give him plenty of break. I wouldn't ask him to hold this position for long to begin with. Remember he is probably not used to this way of going and he may get tired easily, sort of like training a new set of muscles.

If you are more advanced, after he is relatively straight from this exercise, you can try it at trot, and then you can try mini shoulder-in at walk and then trot to align shoulders to hind legs, but make sure the bend is through his body, not his neck, and which means plenty of outside rein on his neck to prevent overbending of the neck toward inside. A good shoulder in really teaches you as a rider the importance of outside rein and inside leg and how to apply it properly.

And then of course you will need to learn a new habit too. My guess is you are collapsing your left rib and pop your right shoulder skyward- we all do that kind of stuff one way or the other in our sad career of horseback riding. What has worked for me is, everytime you feel you need more inside rein, use more outside rein instead, and intentionally push your inside hand forward. Sometimes you may even have to imagine to collapse your right rib just to get yourself straight (sort of overdoing the opposite way just to get a feeling of it).

AnotherRound
Feb. 28, 2011, 08:37 PM
Wow, what a fantastic thread. I have the exact same problem. I have great success with him to the right, but to the left, I find myself overusing inside rein to get him to bend - then I stop, and use my inside leg to outside rein, and he blows through my outside leg - which is what I want to use to "hold" him.

My last lesson, I began to really feel his back end - through using my hips and shoulders. Here's one thing to try which offered me a modicom of success:

If you can see your left shoulder, it is too far forward. Drop your shoulders. Put your shoulders back. The inside shoulder should be back more than the left, but here: Your visor should be level - do not DROP your inside shoulder. Pretend you have a level on your visor.

If you drop your inside shoulder, he will too and his outside shoulder will bulge.

I don't know the rest of the correction, but it involves every single suggstion posted above me, including that "riding the square" thing.

Its odd how well we (my horse and I) can do it in one direction and not in the other.

Also, if you can get it from the ground, or, if you can't, you can see what you are doing wrong on the ground - in hand, we do exactly what we do in the saddle. If you haven't been doing in hand work, you might want to learn that because it is a great way to expose your weaknesses, and train your horse to respond to you.

good luck. I need it too.

EqTrainer
Feb. 28, 2011, 08:42 PM
AR - really... If you can stop thinking about it being one sided it will help you a lot!