I want to hear about how you all use your inside rein. Lets say for 20 meter circle, how would you use it effectively? Additionally, if you have a different approach with the inside rein depending on if the horse is green or well trained (by well trained I do not mean Grand Prix, just a seasoned horse who has worked up to maybe 2nd level), I would be interested in hearing what you do and your thoughts on why it is effective. Thanks!
The weight in both reins is the same, this is because the entire front end of the horse moves as a unit, the shoulders and neck should move laterally as one. To obtain a slight flexion beyond that created with the inside leg I would raise the inside hand.
Other than that both hands are even, held near the withers and no further than about 6" apart (ideally they are right together). They should both remain supple and feeling and should not "lock up", but still effectively contain the toothpaste you are squeezing from behind. Think "feeling" not holding, like a border collie keeping a herd of sheep closed in, instead of a wall.
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The inside rein is, for the most part, a tool to dictate the amount of flexion you would like the horse to have. If the horse I was riding started getting a little locked in the jaw I would apply inside leg and move them into the outside rein and soften the inside rein just slightly to encourage them to become more supple on it if they are resisting.
Thanks Anabel and Strange!
Anabel do you always elevate the inside rein for flexion? How about if your horse is twisting at the poll? Is there ever a time you would not elevate the inside rein?
Strange do you elevate the inside rein?
If the head is tilting it is not an isse that is fixed by more hand - usually it is an issue of the rider holding too much on one rein and the horse`s lack of suppleness. In that case I would ride a staight line from two legs to two reins and focus on aligning the shoulders and neck into an evn pressure on both reins.
Now - in more upper level situations where the shoulders and neck are aligned and under control - I would use an opening inside rein to encourage more bend or turning in a halfpass or pirouette exercise. With a young horse and only at the right moment the opening rein can also be used momentarily to aid in turning, or to help align the shoulders with the neck in a transition or through a corner. I try to sparingly use the opening rein in situations where the horse is strengthening in a movement, but in the teaching stages it can be a good tool. I prefer the lifting of the inside hand as it helps to keep the shoulders better aligned, in general.
I actually have somewhat of a bad habit of holding my hands too low, so I'm always thinking of lifting my hands up and more forward, simply to correct my own position, so I have yet to start focusing on any more elevation, slight or otherwise.
As for the twisting the poll question, one of the horses I ride does that, and it's the result of him not properly stretching into both reins because of a lack of suppleness (granted, he's almost 25 years old, but he doesn't get cut any slack). To help him loosen up a little more through his back I like to have him canter with a little bit of counter flexion, especially during warm up, then I allow him to return to true flexion and I find he's much more relaxed, supple, and stretching through his back into both reins.
Thanks guys! I think I'm treating a greenie too much like a seasoned dressage horse and was getting conflicting information on how to handle it. Your posts help a lot and I really appreciate it! We will get there...
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