Confused about correct rein aids while riding dressage
To start off with, I am NOT second guessing my trainer. I adore my trainer, she is awesome and she knows a LOT.
I've just never experienced the style of rein aids she is teaching me with her lesson horse and I want to know if I've just always been "out of the loop" and this is a very common style, or if it's a more different style. I know from experience that there are many styles of disciplines...kind of like ballet. In ballet there is French, Cecetti (Italian), modern, etc etc. All with there own little nuances as to how even a pirouette is done (whether the foot goes at the ankle, knee or halfway up the standing leg during the turn). So I'm thinking maybe dressage has it's little differences in style to?
I previously rode hunter jumper. I never learned much about seat. I rode with my reins and I pulled my inside rein back to turn. I have come a LONG way since then and I now can control Cinny without reins if I had to. But now my trainer is teaching me a new trick. One that doesn't work with Cinny yet as she says he is not far enough up his training to really work on it, but her lesson horses all rein in this different way. I am getting ready to show one of them this coming weekend due to Cinnys injury and I'm having to take an extra lesson just to be able to steer him LOL. Basically to turn there is no inside rein aid at all. It's hold him with the outside rein, ask for roundness with the inside. when you want to turn you pull the OUTSIDE rein straight back while asking for the bend with your inside leg and seat bone. The seat part is what I'm used to but the outside rein seems so foreign to me.
Is this how most dressage horses are when they have been trained and ridden above 2nd level as he has? Is this a "style nuance" as I mentioned above? As I said, I'm not rebelling against my trainer at all, just wondering if this is how all or most upper level dressage riders ride and if it's something I should be striving for with my own horse.
Yes and no.
A Dressage horse should be able to turn off the outside aids. If I close my outside thigh and outside rein on my horse, he will turn away from the pressure.
What I do not agree with, and perhaps it is just your interpretation of your trainer's message, is pulling the outside rein backwards. The rein should not need to go backwards. When you start pulling, then you cause problems.
The outside rein needs to allow the bend. It is the outside knee that turns the horse. Too much outside rein will counterbend the horse and cause him to fall over his inside shoulder. In any turn, both hands remain feeling with the same pressure in both, an inside flexion and the legs keep the horse on the line.
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I think I over spoke my trainer. It's not that I drastically pull back on Jeremy, it's more like a 1/2 inch or an inch. She wants to always seem my outside hand just every so slightly behind the inside and me really putting the "please bend" seat and leg aids on him.
Kayty I think you just explained what my trainer has tried to explain to me but couldn't quite find the words...give enough pressure with the outside rein for him to move away from it, but not exactly a pulling back. I just know if I don't put ANY pressure on that outside rein, no matter how much pushing with my outside thigh and knee, and no matter how much I ask him to bend on around my inside leg, he will only bend but go straight.
It's just about like the same amount of pressure I would use to ask for a side pass only my seat doesn't ask for a side pass my seat asks for a turn....so if I want to turn to the left, my outside rein is asking for a side pass to the left while my seat is asking for a turn to the left...calf pressure on the inside girth, knee and thigh pressure near outside shoulder and supporting the inside shoulder slightly with inside rein all simultaneously. Does that make sense?
So interesting about the ballet styles. I had no idea!
As for the reining, I think what you're describing is the standard German-American way. The only different dressage reining I can think of is the French-Racinet style, which seems to want to avoid rein pressure altogether. I'm probably wrong on this, but that's the way it's sounded to me.
As for actually riding and using the rein aides correctly, just stay close to your instructor! My experience is, I find myself doing things backward, in attempts to make it right. For example, I believe the horse is really the one who should be taking the outside rein, stretching into it. When all goes well, you can feel his energy swell and you can feel it coming through the rein, like asking you how much to collect--you have his energy in your hands. But if the energy isn't coming, and/or you're trying to figure out what's the best rein length, perhaps they're too long, the tendency is to want to take up the contact; i.e., just pull back.
There is also a difference in teaching the horse, and riding a schooled horse! All I can advise you is, keep riding and trying, and your horse, who knows what to do, will tell you when you're right.:-)
That is the same way my trainer is teaching me and I'm having a heck of a time getting it right, the concept of contact on the outside rein to turn is so foreign to me, it just seems backwards from everything I've been taught previously lol
To make a turn, think as if you have your horse right beside one of these doors and to turn that door opens, except the door opens outwards. So the door represents your outside rein and outside legs ( outside controls). You are directing the horse to move away from and with the pressure that opening door represents.
This same door is there if you do any lateral work where the outside controls are in charge ( does not apply to leg yields).
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