From Endurance to Dressage
The Inside Rein Comes to the Rescue
For so, so long I over-used the inside rein. So of course, once I fixed that, I started to under-use it. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer of Symphony Dressage Stables, convinced me that I really should start using it again. When I do, I get moments like this:
Izzy is by no means unusual in his cheeky attitude, and little by little, I am chipping away at it, revealing a very lovely diamond. But as with most horses, the connection doesn't just happen all by itself; I have to work hard to get it.
Izzy holds most of his tension in his back, base of his withers, and poll. Getting him to let go of all of that takes some careful riding. Warming up with just my seat bones and then getting a stretch down before changing the bend definitely helped unlock his back and neck.
To get that last bit to release, Chemaine had me try a new trick. When Izzy just won't get soft, she instructed me to take my inside rein and cross it ever so slightly in front of my pommel and hold it.
You can see why I would need to do that here:
Bending right means that he has to use his body. Instead, Izzy wants to lock his neck, flex to the outside, and swing his haunches around so that he doesn't have to bend his body.
By crossing my inside hand over the pommel, Izzy doesn't have anything to lean on. I become a human side rein. The instant he releases his neck and poll, I can also release the inside rein. Here he is just a few moments later.
You can see that he has softened so much that I was able let go of the inside rein completely to pat his neck.
Izzy couldn't pick up or hold a right lead canter a year ago. Six months ago we were still regulars on the struggle bus. Heck, even last month we had trouble getting this quality of right lead canter. It's not perfect of course, but you can definitely see some amazing potential in this horse.
Each week that passes makes me more and more glad that I've stuck it out with him. We still have some issues to address, but the good moments are coming faster and faster!
3/15/2017 06:52:14 am
I've got the outside under control. Once you let go of the inside rein, outside aids are your only choice. Now I am working on using both. LOL
3/16/2017 11:52:00 am
I find that so many riders get yelled at for over using their inside rein so much that they end up not using it enough. I've had students have similar aha moments. I call it the Goldilocks Principle. Too much, too little, just right :)
3/16/2017 12:43:09 pm
I hope I am getting to that point! :0)
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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