The Outside Rein-Part 1

Many years ago while visiting the stable of the late Hector Carmona in New Jersey, I was intrigued by a sign in his indoor arena that boldly proclaimed, "The secret of riding is the outside rein".
I soon discovered that the outside rein (AKA the rein of opposition) has many critical jobs:
1. You control speed with it.
2. You use it to steer.
3. You use it to keep your horse straight.
4. When you combine the outside rein with both your driving aids and your bending aids for 3 seconds, you give the "connecting aids" to put your horse on the bit.
5. Later in training, you'll use a momentary closure of seat, leg, and hand to give a half halt. (The half halt is one of the most essential concepts in riding because it allows you to improve your horse's balance–an issue we're constantly dealing with in training.)
LEARNING TO USE THE OUTSIDE REIN
This month, I'm going to give you some exercises to help you become more aware of your outside rein. I think this is a useful first step because riders instinctively rely more on their inside rein than their outside rein.
The first exercise is simply to ride in all three paces on the "second track" which is one meter away from the wall. One meter is a good distance because it's fairly close to the wall. And you'll soon find that the wall exerts some sort of "magnetic pull" that draws your horse back towards the track. Plus, it's a small enough distance for you to clearly tell if you're staying equidistant from the track.
Your goal is to make it all the way around the ring exactly one meter away from the track without having to make any corrections or adjustments. Pretend you're on a 4-inch wide balance beam and any deviation off your line means you've fallen off the beam. If your horse is between your aids, it's easy to keep him one meter from the wall.
Once you can do that, increase the difficulty of the exercise by making a circle. Ride one meter off the track as in the first exercise. Then ride a circle that begins and ends at exactly the same point. As you finish the circle, continue riding straight ahead maintaining your one-meter distance away from the track. The critical points are when you start and finish the circle. You'll need your outside rein both to turn your horse onto the circle as well as to straighten him to tell him to go straight ahead again.
To add an even greater degree of difficulty to the exercise, turn down the centerline and leg yield over to the wall. When you're one meter from the wall, interrupt the leg yield with your outside aids and redirect your horse's energy so he travels straight ahead. Since your horse will be inclined to continue his sideways momentum and end up on the track, you'll need to use the correct influence of your outside aids.
Have fun practicing these outside rein exercises, and next month, I'll explore using the outside rein to connect your horse.
 
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