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How to Break Up with Your Inside Rein

March 07, 20223 min read

Who all has heard their instructor constantly tell them to STOP TURNING WITH YOUR INSIDE REIN?

I teach so many riders of ALL LEVELS that come to me and they will always turn their horse by PULLING on the INSIDE REIN. I always ask them if they have been taught to turn by using the OUTSIDE REIN. I typically get very confused looks from this.

Yes. When we first teach people how to ride in the very beginning they are taught to turn by using an opening rein in the direction they want to go. Notice that I said OPENING REIN and nothing about PULLING. So many instructors teach riders to pull on the inside rein. You can also teach someone how to do a one-rein stop with this method. Well, now that is interesting... we can use a one-rein stop to slow a horse down. If that makes the horse slow down is that really what we want to do? Why else should we not use the inside rein for turning? Also, I don't think the word PULLING needs to be used while riding. Teaching in this way just sets your rider's up for frustration and failure down the road.

How to turn your horse while keeping them happy & in balance

Riding is progressive; much like going to school. As you become a better, more balanced and more confident rider you will develop more skills and more tools in your toolbox. You are not going to ride like you did when you first began riding. You will learn to refine your aids and communicate better with your horse.

What happens when you turn your horse by using the inside rein?

The horses's nose tips to the inside. The horse MIGHT make the turn, but most of the time the horse will drift out through his outside shoulder. Turning with the inside rein also blocks the use of the inside hind leg. The horse's body will not be aligned, and you will get crossover of the inside hind leg. You will lose balance and impulsion. Your horse will fall on the forehand, possibly drop the inside shoulder, shorten his gait and speed up in order to help maintain balance.

Showing the loss of control of the outside shoulder by pulling on the inside rein

Crossing over of the hindlegs can be very dangerous if done at speed and especially downhill. I have seen people pull their horses over completely sideways from turning with their inside rein. So, while you can turn a bicycle left by turning the handle bars to the left; that is not how you turn a horse.

If I can't use my inside rein then what do I do?

Horses are trained to move away from pressure. For instance, if someone pulls on the inside rein on one of my horses, they will go the opposite way. They are trained to move away from pressure. You will have your inside leg softly at the girth to support the ribcage and turn through your entire body and let your arms follow. You will always have a bit of a feeling on your outside hand....almost like a handshake. Picture the horse like a bowling ball and your inside leg and outside hand are the bumpers. Your inside leg will push the horse into your outside rein. Your outside rein will tell the horse to move away from the pressure so the horse will turn the opposite direction. Almost like he's bouncing off your aids. The inside leg at the girth will keep your horse from falling in and losing balance. The outside rein keeps the outside shoulder from falling out. and will keep the horse on your track of travel. I will go over this more in depth in another post, so STAY TUNED!

Amy Vanner

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