Leaning on the inside rein
So I have had this problem with 2 different horses, so I no it is to do with me and not them as individuals! My main problem especially is when I work on spiralling in and out my horse tends to sticks it head to the outside , which obviously then leads to imbalance. the problem is still there sometimes whilst going large but generally on circles and serpentines we have the correct bend.
So finally my question is what exactly should I be doing with my reins, leg and seat to either prevent this or correct this?
In my ideas box I think vibrate the inside rein but when I have tried it doesn't seem to do much unless it is reasonably firm but the I just think I'm pulling his head round momentarily. Then with the leg I'm thinking should I be pushing with my inside leg to get him off the rein or outside leg to push him into the rein?!
So any ideas would be greatly welcomed! The horse I'm riding at the moment is quite unbalanced so I'm not sure whether it is an evasion attempt or my riding or a bit of both, but irrelevant needs to be fixed!
So, counter flexion/bending can actually create better balance.
The question is rather what is creating counterflexion. Spiraling inward can be done in two ways: keep the same flexion (toward the center of the circle) and decreasing the circle with true flexion (which requires reaction to the outside (of the circle) leg. The other is to purposely change flexion (see outside of the circle eyelashes) and pulse the horse inward. By lifting the outside hand, the horse will change flexion and then pulsing the outside aids, the horse will work into the (new) outside rein (the inside of the circle) and the horse will be more 'upright'. Want to sustain any flexion? Just lift that hind a smidge higher/keep chest pointed straight ahead (toward the ears)...likely you are leading with the shoulder on the inside of the circle.
IF the horse changes flexion/looks outward then one of two things are happening. Either you have no contact on the other side or there is too much reaction to the hand vs the leg.
I am not too much into decreasing circles by LY inwardly early on. Rather spiral in (ride smaller and smaller circles i.e. 20/15/12/10) and then LY outward. Fill out outside rein, pulsing the inside (leg) when the horse can reaction (not steadily heldddd). Only when you can do that well start with counter flexion/decreasing circles (that is a kind of neck/bearing rein).
Thank you for the reply! Interesting about the counter flexion thinking about it now I no it's a technique used ,but i always thought it was to improve balance , as in more challenging for the horse , but interesting to learn something new!
So for clarification my aid is inside hand slightly open and outside leg back and pushing the spiral in and inside used to push the circle out.
Just to clarify When you say LY which of two techniques you mentioned are you referring two?
I'm thinking isolate the parts first before trying to use them all together. Control the shoulders with shoulder-in, then work on the hind end with haunches-in. Both these movements require riding your seat and just using the reins for containing the energy. Once you can more the shoulders off the track whenever you want, and the hind end as well, go back to the circle, but don't think of it as a circle. Ride an octogon instead. This way you can make more meaningful adjustments as necessary to keep the body parts where they should be. It also gives you brief periods of "straight" so you have time to fix any contact that has become uneven. Each time you get to the next new part of the octagon, use either shoulder-in or haunches-in to fix whatever is breaking. If he's blowing through your outside aids, bring the shoulders in. If he's swinging his butt out like a boat, bring the haunches in. Until the horse is using it's body correctly and responding to you correctly, wiggling on the inside rein won't do squat. That's more a refining aid for horses who just need a little check-in. The circle will initially be ugly, but at some point you will be able to refine the aids to where all those little adjustments you're making will appear to make a continuous circle rather than an octagon.
Once you go back to spiral in, just move the shoulders in a hair, less than on the regular circle, just enough to bring him onto a slightly smaller circle. Lather, rinse, repeat. To spiral back out, think leg yield buttered with haunches in. You want the hind end to step out to a wider path, but not so much that the butt swings out off the path. Guard the hind leg with your outside leg.
Hope that makes sense.
Another thing to consider is how you position yourself - might be a good idea to get someone to video you as a lot of people tend to lean their own weight to one side when circling, sometimes by just dropping their shoulder without actually realizing it
If a horse leans his weight on one rein it can be better to discourage him by not giving him support on that rein - that is - don't give him anything to lean on and use as a crutch so he has to think about finding his own balance
Thank you for the ideas MyBoyPuck will definitely work on some lateral movements! Yes Jaydee I think you're right about my positioning I have to correct myself from the desire to lean inwards!
Can you tell if your horse is "balanced" when you ride him straight? In other words, does one side feel higher than the other under your seat bones? Does he lean on one rein more than the other when going straight? When he turns, does he lean his shoulder in (while turning his head out and leaning on the inside rein)? If so, he is not balanced evenly.
It will take a little while and patience to correct this and even to learn the feel yourself. When you feel him balancing more to the left (for example), try dropping your right seatbone a bit (don't exaggerate). He will want to balance under your weight so he will naturally begin shifting his weight over to his right side in order to balance under you. Don't lean, just drop your seat bone until you feel him become balanced evenly, then sit evenly yourself. Get used to feeling how he is balanced when going straight and correcting him if he is putting more weight on one side or the other.
On the curve, it sounds like he wants to balance to the inside. A good thing to do is to practice with lots of small round figure 8's at a slow relaxed trot. Watch your weight/seat bones. Observe how he is balancing and try to always encourage him (with your seat bones) to balance evenly (upright, not leaning). The change in direction in the middle of the eight will encourage him to stay upright and not leans. Do a round circle one way, then be sure he takes a step or two very upright and balanced in the middle of the eight, they turn in the other direction to do the second circle of the eight.
Don't try to do too much with the reins, except to "hint" as to the "flex" (bend) that you want. Ride straight at the trot, then hint with your inside rein (small tug and release). Feel for your horse to shift his weight slightly to the outside and curve his neck/body slightly to the inside. Your outside should only keep him from turning his head too much, so he knows you want him to keep going straight and just "flex" to the inside, not turn. Once you've practice on the straight, do the same on the curve. Hint with the inside rein to get him to flex his head slightly to the inside. Be sure not to HOLD his head to the inside. Just a little tug and release, repeat only as needed to "remind" him to stay flexed to the inside. The outside rein should be preventing him from over bending, so it should have constants steady light pressure. Work toward being able to ride the circle with virtually no inside rein (just and occasional reminder).
I hope that makes sense. It sounds like your horse really doesn't understand how to balance when turning and it's best to take a few steps backward and teach him this first, rather than trying to make a major correction which he's doing it all wrong (counter bending and leaning on the inside rein).
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