About the madness of the “inside leg to outside rein”

I officially stopped counting my coach’s patient reproaches, whilst happily approaching, yet again, a change of hand/curve/circle as Valentino Rossi on his Yamaha “Use your aids in the right order: inside leg to outside rein. Keep your position set. Don’t bend in your hip, you’re not running on a motorbike”.

In a turn the outside rein holds the track, without it you are inherently falling in and teaching the horse to fall in. The inside leg holds the horse, because if you solely use the outside rein, again, your horse will fall in. Nothing easier, right? Not really! Nothing more illogical for us humans who walk the world with two legs and two arms. Our nature of bipeds, helped by our innate instincts, tells us to grab the left rein, when turning left. This is because our brains operate on two legs, but we are riding an animal with four.

How to solve? Striving to remember the specific action until it becomes routine. Nevertheless we can never expect to operate instinctively: we have Nature against. The madness of the inside leg to the outside rein, therefore is not in the impeccable theory itself, but rather in working against our instincts, doing something wrong for us, but right in equestrianism.

To make matters even more complicated is that the inside leg to outside rein concept encompasses much more than just these two aids. If applied properly you have a harmonious and well-balanced combination of all the aids, which requires a continuous adjustment with each stride. It is about creating a channel around your horse’s wonderful energy. Imagine it like a flowing river. The inside leg and outside rein are the banks that give it track. We can decide which way to direct the energy generated by the horse with its hind legs: by letting it out just from the front, the horse most likely will become quite long, extending and getting heavy on the front legs. If you hold too much energy, the risk of hitting a real explosion is around the corner (or on the ground, depending on the bucking power).

How to succeed? As always, the solution is to develop that special sensitivity, which is achieved only through hard trainings,while remaining focused on the action. The reward? Balance and very special sensations, that will develop in solid turns, allowing to find harmony with your own horse and the perfect distance to the next jump.

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