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Outside rein support?

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  • Outside rein support?

    Hey Guys,

    I'm just looking for some opinions here.

    What is your outlook on the outside rein and its proper usage? (ignore all the other aids for now- just looking at outside rein specifically)

    Just in an every day scenario- say you're just trotting along the long side of the arena, on a well schooled horse.

    I was always taught to hold with the inside rein and squeeze with the outside to encourage the horse to come soft in the hand. I'm now riding at a new place where I'm being told the complete opposite (outside rein for support- and squeeze with the inside rein).

    Both facilities are excellent, with very sweet, well cared for horses.. but I'm just wondering if either way works, just depends on what the horse was taught.

    For example, you can teach a dog to sit and use the word 'sit' or use the word 'bum' (or any other word). Doesn't matter of the command as long as you get the outcome you want. OR is there specifically a proper use of outside rein support (holding or squeezing??)

    Now bring in the leg, and we should be pushing our horses with our inside leg to our outside rein. Is a squeeze or hold rein more appropriate in coordination with the leg? Or again- is this a training thing, and just depends on how the horse was trained?

    Just looking for some opinions on what you guys think!


    Please assume horse is in good condition, healthy teeth, and well fitting tack

  • #2
    I was always taught to hold with the inside rein and squeeze with the outside to encourage the horse to come soft in the hand. I'm now riding at a new place where I'm being told the complete opposite (outside rein for support- and squeeze with the inside rein).
    The first approach is for *beginners*, the second approach is for *intermediates*.

    Your horse is still not yet *truly on the aids*, but you are developing the skills needed to get there.


    • #3
      I'll start by saying I am a beginner with dressage and just started doing consistent lessons on my TB with an event rider where I work. I just started reading on this dressage section to hopefully gain more understanding. I apologize if I what I say doesn't make much sense (I come from h/j land).

      We're only really doing walk/trot work, so keep that in mind, but my trainer always tells me, when trying to get my horse to come down into my hand, to make sure I keep a consistent hold on the outside rein to let my horse know where he needs to be (head-wise). Since my horse is still learning, I have to exaggerate aids for him and I work a lot on a circle and keep him bent. He tells me I should be constantly giving him instructions in the sequence of "half halt outside rein, squeeze inside leg, supple inside". So while I keep a firm outside rein and half halt on it as a warning I want him to come down, I can let my inside rein soften and stretch down when he does what I ask. Does this make sense?


      • #4
        Originally posted by BaroquePony View Post
        The first approach is for *beginners*, the second approach is for *intermediates*.

        Your horse is still not yet *truly on the aids*, but you are developing the skills needed to get there.
        It makes no sense to start a *beginner* in an approach that will need to be unlearned in order that real progress can be made. So the inside leg to outside rein concept should be taught from the beginning.

        When a horse is first started,the outside rein remains a constant, as do the use of the legs and seat. The use of the opening reins decreases and ceases according to the quickness of the quickness of the horse to understand that he is wanted to listen to the seat and the seat and legs. With some horses, it is instinctive, others take longer.

        The horse learns to soften and "give" the jaw, as he develops the strength and balance to come under himself, hence the endless circles, and bend changes, and hill walking and trotting.

        In the same way, some riders "get it" sooner, some later. Here is where a good schoolie is worth his weight in gold.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


        • #5
          It's so hard for me to read this without *starting* with inside leg and a question about whether your horse knows to soften his jaw to any pressure on either rein.

          So I'd ride that moment of "please put your head down" like this.

          1. Close my inside leg.
          2. Use just enough outside rein to "catch him."

          If he didn't soften?


          Close my inside leg again and half halt with the outside rein.

          Or, if he has lost the inside bend and doesn't know much about softening--

          1. Close my inside leg again, soften my outside arm and half halt on the inside.
          2. After that, assuming I have his jaw relaxed, then I pick the outside rein up again. I might have to use my inside leg again to keep him stepping into that new pressure he didn't know he could tolerate with a relaxed jaw.

          The outside leg is there as needed to keep him going forward. I'm mainly answering your question about reins and a horse putting his head down.

          Hope you can picture this.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat


          • #6
            My outside rein never changes, my hand is always touching the wither so I am able to give whatever support I can.

            My half halts are done with my seat and legs and if necessary I may give a little flick with my ring finger on my outside rein, but very rarely.


            • #7
              Technically, the outside rein on a well trained horse offers steady support and sets the length of the stride as well as the gait.

              There are a multitude of variations that *help* riders *get there*.


              • #8
                In Europe there is less emphasis on inside or outside rein. There is no absolute answer to your question. American emphasis is on a steady outside rein and the half-halt occurs on this rein, the inside rein is often used to supple the jaw and poll. Of course, inside and outside is relative, and one does not "hold" with either rein, less the horse become stiff.


                • #9
                  Hi Everyone,

                  Thanks a lot for your replies. I know it was kind of a hard question to answer without getting into everything else, since we all know its more then just the hands at work!

                  I tried to find the simplest way to ask the question, so I tried to paint the picture of an ideal horse, in an ideal setting, with an ideal rider. If everything was going correctly, and then you zoomed in on the outside rein and hand, what would they be doing.

                  My intension of the question was because I thought it was quite interesting to ride 'opposite' to what I had previously learned (14 years of riding & competing in Canada), and am now finding myself questioning what I know, now that I'm living on the complete opposite side of the globe.

                  The mare that I'm currently riding response quite well to the way I ride her (she's a speedy firey thing, so when I give her a big half halt on the outside rein and soften, she responds really well and I can get her plodding around happily on a loopey rein). I guess what we are trying to do is get her used to the outside contact without stressing about it and running.

                  Finally, I know this is the internet after all, so its difficult to really explain these things on line, from both perspectives! But in any case, I was interested to see other people's opinions on the subject.

                  Thanks everyone!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by littlehooves View Post
                    ... I'm now riding at a new place where I'm being told the complete opposite (outside rein for support- and squeeze with the inside rein).

                    ...Now bring in the leg, and we should be pushing our horses with our inside leg to our outside rein. Is a squeeze or hold rein more appropriate in coordination with the leg?
                    It's normally outside rein for support- and squeeze with the inside rein so you use a squeeze (then release) with inside rein to obtain more bend than just the inside leg (at girth) gives you.

                    Now the inside leg to outside rein - I use the inside leg squeeze timed with outwide rein squeeze, then release both around same time. Don't hold. Idea is that if they occur at the same time you are straightening the horse. If the horse is crooked then you may have to just apply one of the aides alone or stronger - depending on how crooked the horse is.

                    So when going along the rail I use inside leg to outside rein during HH - inside leg not only keeps horse straight but encourages inside hind to step deeper underneath horse - objective of the HH is to get horse to carry itself more by lowering haunches when hind legs bend at hocks then step more underneath their belly's.

                    I encourage you to ask WHY during your lessons - that way you will learn how to train the horse rather than just following directions. That will translate into better riding when no instructor is available (like during a test), as you will know how to fix an issue. Good luck!
                    Now in Kentucky


                    • #11
                      Outside rein is for support, and the connection should be felt all the way to your lower back/kidney area with activated abdominals (not hunchy crunched but activated)
                      Inside rein asks for more flexion and can help to rebalance if the inside ear tips toward the inside in an evasive attept from the outside rein.
                      chaque pas est fait ensemble