Steady outside rein and flexion?
I was wondering if anyone had any tips or training exercises to help me keep a steady outside rein contact? I know I need to keep my outside rein soft and in one place but I always end up throwing it away or pulling backwards to compensate for my constant moving. Is this just something I have to work through and just figure out on my own or are there some exercises that might help?
Also, on a similar note, I am having trouble getting my horse to flex in the poll and jaw. She is VERY stiff in the poll and the jaw and my trainer is having me open my inside rein to teach her what I am asking. Again my problem is that she either resists or bends in the neck and I end up pulling backwards unintentionally. I'm getting frustrated because I am now getting "yelled" at for opening my inside rein too much or pulling backwards on the rein. Are there any tips, tricks, or visualizations out there that may be able to help?
I realize a lot of this is just feel and figuring out what works but I'm at a loss of what else I can try to do.
Thanks for any help or advice!
One thing that I think is really helpful to think about with your inside rein is to pretend you are turning a key in a lock. So you aren't moving your whole arm, just turning your wrist a bit. Then, as soon as the horse softens and gives, you return to the thumbs up position.
You won't get correct flexion until you can ride with an independent seat and not pull on your reins.
Try riding with your little fingers hooked under the velcro at the front of your saddle pad, or on a monkey strap if you have one (piece of plaited binder twine works well). This will give you enough movement to follow the horse's topline, but will restrict you enough to know when you're pulling or throwing the rein away.
Your seat should be strong and balanced enough to never get tipped forward, so you have complete control over where your arms/hands/legs are at any one time. Try some lunge lessons without reins and stirrups to assist in developing the required degree of balance and core strength to achieve this.
Between these two exercises, you will train your body to do most of the work, and your hands will stay quiet, not having the need to move around. At the moment, it sounds like you are relying on your hands to do the work of your body.
Flexion cannot be achieved by pulling back on the rein, you will create too much bend in the neck, the jaw and poll will lock and the purpose will be entirely defeated - as you've already realised ;)
As DXD said above,asking for flexion is more in the wrist and fingers, than moving your whole arm. However, flexion won't come until the body is supple, and the hind legs are active. Concentrate on getting very good hind legs, develop a substantial and effective half halt, improve your seat and outside rein contact, and you will find that the flexion will come automatically. You may occasionally need to give a little reminder, just a tweak of the fingers to feel the mouth a little more, with the inside leg on, but nothing more than that.
Thank you both for your replies! I will definitely give your suggestions a try!
Kayty took the word out of my mouth (? fingers?). Get a bucking strap and think about pushing your hands down and together, even resting your knuckles on the horse's withers and then ride to your hands.
"You won't get correct flexion until you can ride with an independent seat"
Definitely agree, and the best way to get an independent seat is longe lessons. Hands down.
The way you get a steady outside rein contact is that the horse steadily reaches into your hand, which is soft and inviting and reliable. You can't have that kind of hand until you have a solid seat. It isn't possible. You have to work on you first. Here's a good book about longe lessons: www.TrainingTree.net Have fun with it!
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