Horse depends heavily on my inside rein going to the left- exercises?
Hi all, so I recently purchased a 4 year old Connemara gelding. He was super green broke when I bought him, but he's getting better and better. Going to the right he's a nice soft, supple horse who is in my outside aids and is lovely to ride. Going to the left, he changes completely and depends heavily on my inside rein. If it's not always there turning him and supporting him he'll drift and will not listen to my inside leg/ outside rein on where to go. I was wondering if anyone knew of any good exercises to get a horse more into your outside aids, not so dependant on the inside rein for support all of the time. Thanks everyone!
I agree about the leg yield - but this isn't a horse who is dependent on your outside aids; it's a horse dependent on your left rein. I'd work on getting straight first - it sounds as if your horse is probably always curved right. You need to figure out how to get a left bend, but also why this curve is always to the right. Horses are crooked like humans, but is the human on this horse causing it, or is he dropping a shoulder, twisting in the rib cage, not wanting to weight a weaker hind leg?
I do agree about leg yielding from left to right to help you, also turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches, but until you figure out where the tightness or weakness is you can't target fixing the area causing the problem.
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Originally Posted by katarine
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... Going to the right he's a nice soft, supple horse who is in my outside aids and is lovely to ride. Going to the left, he changes completely and depends heavily on my inside rein. If it's not always there turning him and supporting him he'll drift and will not listen to my inside leg/ outside rein on where to go.
Been through this myself.
Comfortable bending to the right, not the left.
Fisrt off, it is highly likely that, even though he FEELS "nice, soft, supple", it is quite likely that he is actually bulging his shoulder to the left while going to the right- that is much harder to feel than the evasion of leaning on the rein going to the left.
This is going to take a LOT of LEFT LEG, both directions, but especially to the right.
The most useful exercises have been a combination of
-Counterbend (BOTH directions)
-Changes of direction
-spirals (in and out, true band and counter bend)
-serpentines (shallow and wide, alternating bend (true or counter), keeping the same bend)
-counter shoulder in (aka, IIRC, "head to the wall") or counter leg yield along the wall
-alternating leg yields (not on the wall, e.g. between the center line and the quarter line)
For instance, when spiraling in to the right, make sure his shoulders are leading (i.e. on a slightly smaller circle than) his quarters. You will initially need counter bend to do this, but you can alternate between true bend and counter bend unltil he can keep his shoulders "in", independent of the bend.
When spiraling out to the right, you want to make sure his nose is leading ( on a bigger circle than) his shoulders, and that his quarters are on almost the same circle as his shoulders.
Spiraling in to the left, you want to make sure that his nose is leading his shoulder (and it is more a question of using your left leg to prevent him falling in on the left shoulder, than turning his neck). Even in counter bend, yo want to be sure he is not falling on the shoulder.
Spiraling out to the left, you want to make sure he is leading with his shoulder, not his quarters, again using your left leg to stop him falling in.
I will alternate serpentines
-Alternating bend the normal way, true bend to true bend
-Right bend for the entire serpentine (alternating true bend with counter bend)
-Left bend for the entire serpentine (alternating true bend with counter bend)
-Alternating bend the other way, counter bend to counter bend.
In all of this, the emphasis is on controling the left shoulder, mostly with the leg, a little with the left rein.
I find that it is actually the work to the right, the supposedly good side, controlling the shoulder so it does not bulge AT ALL, that brings about the biggest improvement in the work to the left.
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One thing to check and eliminate as a possibility - Does he drift out even with a strong outside leg holding him? Just to check, pay attention to your legs - is your inside leg stronger in that direction pushing him away, and your outside leg weaker and not holding him?
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And of course, be sure the problem isn't you..... where is your weight, are your shoulders/hips aligned correctly, is your left (inside) leg pushing too much, etc etc.
To test this, try riding straight down the cl without much rein or leg input. Does he drift?
Yes I keep a very strong outside leg on him going to the left, and still definitely drifts out if I let go of the pressure on my inside rein. Quite frustrating!
If he is ignoring your outside leg aid, try moving your leg a bit forward and bump him so he knows it, and perhaps holding the whip on his outside right shoulder to remind him that pressure means something. My 9yo occasionally needs this reminder on his left shoulder when going right....
I think a lot about Sally O'Connor's dictum that the primary avenue of communication is through the horse's back from the rider's seat, which makes the seat the most powerful aid and the one I like to check first in cases like this. To check the "primary avenue," I put both knees in front of my saddle (to eliminate leg and facilitate finding both seatbones), put both hands together or reins in one hand (to eliminate hands), and practice riding the horse with seat alone. I and my students have often found it quite surprising how well our horses turn, etc., ridden this way-- and then how little hand and leg we (or our horses) really need to perform the above mentioned exercises correctly (i.e. using seat as primary aid) so they actually can achieve the desired goals. It's the best way I've found so far (except lunge lessons-- or maybe Amerika) to check my own straightness before attempting to straighten a horse.
The only bump I've found in using this exercise is a little reluctance to move off in some horses. With them, I've found that tapping the shoulders with my feet to help urge them forward (as jockeys do) does the trick. If it doesn't, I'd tap behind the saddle with a bat.