Thursday, December 4, 2014

Inside to outside always, right?

Inside leg to outside rein. That's one of the tenets of dressage, right?

The idea being to have the horse lift off the your inside leg and shift his balance into the outside rein. With his weight to the outside, he can then bend and turn to the inside without losing his balance. In addition, you have a great half-halt ready in the outside rein.

Well in my last lesson, inside leg-outside rein was turned on its head.

See, in the shoulder-in to the right, my horse likes to fall onto his inside shoulder. No amount of half halting will get him to lift. No amount of pushing from behind will, either. He just rushes, and falls harder. I've ensured that I am pushing him into the outside rein, and am maintaining the bend with the inside leg. Still he falls in.

He's protective of his left shoulder, see. The barest of touches with the left rein, and his shoulder will dart over. He's quick to throw a fit rather than lift up his right shoulder and have to fill up his outside left.

"If he still falls in after you've brought the shoulder around with your outside rein, don't be afraid to take that outside shoulder out slightly." That's my trainer, full of excellent advice.

I guess when inside leg to outside rein fails you, it's okay to think out of the box and create a new training tool.

So here's what I do...

The minute I realize inside leg/outside rein isn't working, I increase the bend in my outside elbow and carefully take my outside hand OUT. The feeling here is one of guiding the outside shoulder down the line, and widening the front feet.

"He's past pushing into that rein. If you push more with your inside leg, you're going to push him past your outside rein, and past his balance point."

Huh. So no extra inside leg, just outside rein. Interesting...

Guinness reacts to a leading outside rein by straightening slightly, then shifting back to take his balance off his front end. With his weight shifted back, he takes a bigger and wider step with his outside front. Finally, he fills up the outside of his neck and is able to step forward with the inside hind and flex nicely through his poll.

The big thing to remember here? Make sure to keep the inside leg on. You don't want to take it away completely, just not increase its push. The inside leg should stay long and draped on the horse, asking for the bend to stay and the haunches to stick. The other important factor is your weight aid. You'll want your weight more on your outside seatbone. In Guinness' case this can sometimes be so dramatic that I lean off to the outside. A less stubborn and crooked horse will need a less obvious aid. Experiment as needed.

So, using the outside rein independently to place the shoulder. Neat! Another tool for the box.

To apologize for a lack of photos illustrating this post, please enjoy this sequence of photos demonstrating me being awkward mounting from the ground.

16 comments:

  1. I agree completely! It's really hard for me to get past the idea of maybe not riding so much outside to inside, but the shoulder in improves so much when I do what you're describing. Coolio :)

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    1. Love it when someone else can validate what I'm feeling!

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  2. I've recently been playing with the "both reins should be even at all times" concept, which is waaay different than the inside-to-outside I was taught (e.g. there's more contact on the outside rein than the inside). You can of course move the reins around (leading rein, more elbow bend for one or the other, etc) but at the end of the day, contact remains even. Do you find this the case when you're working as well, or do you have different amounts of contact in each rein?

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    1. Hm. This is kind of difficult to answer. I try to strive for both reins to be even, as a default setting, if you will.

      When flexing one direction or another, the inside rein will take more pressure for a fraction of a moment, before releasing and the outside rein taking over to maintain straightness in the body and keeping the outside shoulder from falling out. Guinness is exceptionally difficult to get into contact, and flexing is a way of unlocking his poll and getting him to relax into the rein, so we do that a bit more than most.

      When doing a shoulder in to the left, both reins are even. When doing a shoulder in to the right, the outside (left) rein, will often take more pressure to keep the outside shoulder from shirking its duty (as explained above).

      So, I guess, yes. I do try to keep both reins even, but have no problem using more pressure on one or the other to get a point across. :)

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  3. I like to read this and pretend it applies to my horse.

    Someday it will. ;-)

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  4. I think my biggest problem is maintaining contacts with my aids lol, most of the time I'm like "well i did it now I stop!" if that makes sense lol

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    1. Oh my god. I used to be so bad about this. My trainer pointed out that I wasn't doing my horse any favors by releasing my aids completely the moment we finished something correctly. She was totally right, but that doesn't mean that I fixed it overnight. I still find myself rewarding his give into contact by giving the reins back to him. Wtf. Why do I do that?

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  5. aw he's so cute in those pics! no WAY isabel would stand for that lol...

    re: rein aids - very interesting! the way you describe it makes a lot of sense too. we're not quite to the inside-leg-outside-rein stage yet bc my horse literally isn't straight or truly connected to either rein, but we're working on it (and my timing/feel the aids...) and i've gotten slight glimpses into how it'll feel

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    1. Glimpses are totally getting there! Once you get the feel, it all gets easier!

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  6. Wow I totes admire your ability to mount bareback from the ground. #fail for me!
    Love reading your posts even though they are miles above my current skill set, if i ever get there though I will have these to refer back to - so thank you very much ☺

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    1. I used to be intimidated by mounting from the ground like that. Then one day I just decided to leap up there and give it a try. Sometimes Pig stands for it. Sometimes he doesn't. Every once in awhile, I get tossed off.

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  7. Love hearing about these new tools/breakthroughs! I think it's just so helpful to able able to add to your toolbox through someone else's experiences. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

    bonita of A Riding Habit

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    1. I looove it when other people talk about their training breakthroughs. Sometimes it just takes another person's perspective to help you get that breakthrough. Am I right?

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  8. What a nice approach! Will try that as well!

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    1. Let me know if it works for you and Half!

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