What is an Outside Rein and Why Use It?

Hey Superstar, we are about to discuss what do we mean by ‘outside’ rein and why you need to use it!

The first thing is – when you want to turn a horse – you don’t use the inside rein! I know – it sounds really strange… but you use the outside rein!

Our job as dressage riders is to be able to gain control over every little inch of the horses body with the most easy and effortless of commands and aids – easy!! 🙂

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I’d love to hear from you how you go and how you use your outside rein!

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To Your Success,

Natasha Althoff

Full Transcript Expand to full transcript

Hi there! Welcome to Your Riding Success TV train with Tash. Today we have a question from Julie. What is the outside rein and what are you meant to do with it?

Okay, so undoubtedly when you start to learn to ride dressage for real, for serious, your coach will eventually start to tell you, ooh by the way, you’re not meant to turn your horse with your inside rein. You’re meant to turn it with your outside rein. When I first had that lesson and learnt that little bit of information, I thought my coach was an idiot because surely you ride your horse like you ride a bike, and if you want to go that way on a bike you pull the handle bars towards you and the bike turns that way, and if you want to turn that way you pull the handlebar towards you and it goes that way and surely riding a horse is just like riding a bike – yeah?

So I could not understand for the life of me why we would like – and in my crude attempts of learning – why I would pull on the outside rein to turn the horse because if I just pull on my outside rein she turns that way so that doesn’t turn her and if I want to turn her that way, well I can pull and look. She turns a bit like a monster truck. Not like a Ferrari, but she turns. So yes, if you need to turn your horse, if you’re riding a young horse, who doesn’t understand anything by opening up your inside rein and pretty much just turning the head. So eventually the shoulders follow which eventually means then the back will follow which eventually means the hind leg will follow. You can turn your horse.

But we’re so much better than that. And we are little dressage queens and dressage divas that want our horses to turn and be effortless when we ride them.

So if I want the horse to turn and I use my outside rein and like now, like now, like now, like now, like now you can see because I’ve forgotten, haven’t turned the head, I’ve turned to the shoulder. The horse can turn a lot more quicker, a lot more better, and a lot more easier because I’m basically making the horse turn with its body rather than – well, if I move the head a certain way, eventually the body follows.

Gretchen is a really long mare. She’s a little bit like, I think a brontosaurus. I think they had those big, big, big, big. You know what a Brontosaurus is? I think that’s the name. I’m not a very good dinosaur person, but I think that really. Is that right Georgia – she’s just like *shrug* Brontosaurus? We’re dressage riders not dinosaur people!

I’m pretty sure those big ones with those big necks and if they thought have have thought that they wanted their tail to move and I’m pretty sure they were like eight meters long. It took apparently like three minutes. Did you know that Georgia? Um, I might be totally wrong, but that’s what I believe. So if, uh, you’ve got that going on and you know, you’re turning the head and see eventually she moves her shoulders and then eventually she moves her hind legs. That’s not going to get us around an eight meter circle in a dressage test. That’s never – I can’t half pass a horse just by moving its head. Good girl. She’s actually being really nice. So you have to start to learn to turn the shoulders.

Now, if you’ve never done that before, it’s not going to make any sense. So the easiest way is in halt. See if I just turn her head, she stays in halt – she moves her head. So that’s not going to work. If I want her shoulder to step over there, I have to just half halt onto the outside shoulder. Good girl, and the shoulder moved across. I want the shoulder to move again. Half halt, half halt, a little bit of leg. Good girl.
And don’t worry about – oh, am I doing a walk pirouette? Oh, did it ground? Oh, did it? Oh my God. Don’t complicate it. Just start getting the feel – because this will take a while. Took me months to just get a horse’s shoulder to move from halt. So again, and she’s like – no! So halt, outside rein, a little bit of outside leg, etc. And you can see this side, she’s, she’s not as supple, she wants to rein back rather than move her shoulder.
So it’s a really good exercise even for good girl, even for more experienced riders to just test is your horse moving off your outside rein and I can tell – oh, okay. Yeah, she likes to move off the right rein. She doesn’t like to move off the left rein as much.

And that’s going to help if you’re high level rider – your half passes, your flying changes – everything, because you want your horse to move off your outside rein. So I think I’ve demonstrated why the outside rein is so important because then you can do beautiful turns. Then you can control the horses shoulders. Remember in Grand Prix that test is complicated. Not because it’s complicated. Well it is, but if your horse listened to all of your aides and moved off your outside, like you could control the outside shoulder and the inside shoulder and the outside hind and the inside hind and the back and the neck and the head… The Grand Prix wouldn’t be a problem because if you could control all the legs you can make to make the horse do tempi changes. You could do half pass, you could put the horse in any position!

So our jobs as a dressage rider is to be able to gain control over every little inch of the horse’s body with the most easy and effortless of commands and aides – easy!

So this is your first little step into doing that. So if you’re aware I was 15 years ago, maybe going, nooo, I just want to keep turning with the inside rein. You can do that, but understand you will never get to the, to the levels that you might want to in dressage if that is your goal.

If your goal is to have fun, if you goal is just to ride and be able to point the horse to where you want to go… rock on, don’t worry about this outside rein stuff.

Go search another video, go search how to have fun with your horse. I think I’ve recorded that!

But if you want to become a top dressage level rider and top can mean anything – it might mean you want to get to level one. It might mean you want to get to advanced or level is that level four in America, my head is not working. Or it might mean Prix St George, it might mean Grand Prix it might mean Olympic representation, but whatever it is you wan to then commit to understanding how your outside rein works because then you’ve got, that’s for another video, your inside leg to outside rein on how you get the horse really through, really round and really supple through his body, so trust that helps enjoy!