Sunday, April 3, 2016

Relationship with the inside rein

When we learn to ride, we're told to pull the inside rein to turn.  It pulls our horse's head around and they tend to follow their heads.  Okay, easy peasy.  I want to turn right, I pull right or move my hand right to turn his head.  We can do this for years and years.  Sure, we learn that some horses are smart and go in the opposite direction of their heads, but that's what kicking with the outside leg is for!

Then one day a trainer says 'inside leg to outside rein'.  And you think they're on crack.  Because seriously, how am I supposed to turn left by pulling on my right rein and kicking with my left leg?  That's backwards!  I know that doesn't work because look, I pull my right rein and he turns right, not left.  And then you spend endless hours trying to convince your body and sometimes your horse how to do everything backwards.  Sooner or later it makes sense and you learn about things like shoulders and balance and true bend, but that inside hand is still a bit itchy.  It went from being the most important to being kind of . . . decorative.

Yeah, it sets the bend and all of that, but it's spending a lot of time being light while the pressure is in the outside rein.  What a demotion.

I, like a lot of people I know, have a tough time getting off that inside rein.  I know very well that I'm not supposed to be hanging on it.  Trainer A has mentioned that she can see my correcting myself pretty frequently in any given ride.  That doesn't change the fact that it means I let it get heavy.  And Theo is wicked talented and talking me into hanging on that inside rein, especially the right one since he doesn't flex right as well.  And I'm right handed.  And my left shoulder is the bad one.  None of that helps.  I naturally want to hang on that rein more than my left.  You know it's bad when I get 'please, just let go of that rein!'.

Our increasing lateral work has brought this little shortcoming into very sharp relief.  It's sad.  I had a round with the Circle of Death (about ten ground poles in a 20 meter circle) and my poor trainer got to the point where it was 'bad hands, bad!'.  Yeah, I know.  They're very naughty.

It's so hard to let go when my horse is being very stubborn and evasive about a true bend.  I can just crank his nose around and that's what we want, right?  His nose is in!  But it's not what we really want and it gives him a chance to brace and throw his shoulder out, turning our nice trot into a disjointed mess.  So I continue to trot around the ring, looking down and saying 'bad, bad hands!' to myself.

The teens have decided that I'm completely batshit, but friendly and good for info so they don't mind.


  1. When I tell my inside hand it's being bad it gets very rude. It's convinced that it stands between me and certain death.

    I had to remind myself numerous times today.

  2. I'm pretty sure I'm the queen of the disjointed mess trot. Inside leg to outside rein sounds so simple but it is so freaking hard sometimes. But they say awareness is the first step to fixing a problem so keep on muttering bad hands (which is way better than what I mutter). :)

    1. I got told to quit dropping the F-bomb in the arena. Evidently I'm a bad influence on impressionable minds.