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Dressage 03 - The Magic of the Outside Rein

Opening the inside reign

Now we have control of the horse - legs, seat and hands. The time has come to make use of it.
We want to do exercises to supple and strengthen the horse.

We will leave the horse long while we do these exercises. As the horse gets stronger, he will, in due course, offer the jaw to us, and go 'on the bit'. The horse's spine is stiff by nature, therefore bending the spine is difficult However with consistent training the horse can be made to be supple. With each exercise we must always ask ourselves: "What am I going to achieve?" Exercises must be executed properly otherwise they do not improve the horse at all and are of no value. To build some logic in the exercises we must each time establish the goal - the finished product. In our first exercise - the circle - the goal is that the horse is bent according to the arc of the circle.

Straight and True:

Straight & TrueA horse is straight when his hind and front legs are behind one another in one line. The horse is true when he is bent according to the arc of the circle. We are able to draw a line through the horse and the outside legs are on the outside of this line and the inside legs on the inside. The rider must try to make the horse bend according to the arc of the circle. The stiff horse will usually swing the quarters out. This can be seen from the ground; the inside hindleg crosses in front of the outside hindleg. How the rider feels this on horseback will be discussed later in this article. It speaks for itself the arc of the 20 metre circle is more shallow than the arc of a 10 metre circle or the corner (this is a quarter circle). Let's discuss the progression of the way we ride the circles from the beginning of the training of the horse or rider, to the more advanced horse and rider. Most riders, without access to proper instruction, turn the horse like a bicycle on a circle. They pull on the inside rein and push the outside rein forward. Some even push the inside rein over the withers to the other side. Although the horse is often looking in the direction of the turn, his body is going the other way. He pushes over the shoulder away from the direction the rider wants to go. This often happens if the rider wants to turn away from a group of horses but finishes amongst them. This all happens because these riders have not discovered:

The magic of the outside rein.

To turn the horse correctly we must adhere to this Golden Rule: Our hands must always be level. The hands must never be behind one another. Our contact will also be even. Turning the horse must go as follows: Let us say that we want to turn right With the hands level, we take the right 'inside' hand away from the central position to the right. This in turn will take the head and neck a little to the right. The horse will follow his nose and turn with such a simple request. Our hands are level, therefore the left (outside) rein becomes a little too short as it were, and becomes firmer on neck and starts to push. Now there are two reins saying the same thing. The left rein firmly on the neck will have a limiting effect: It prevents the horse drifting out over the shoulder The opening of the rein while maintaining contact with the outside with even hands can always be reverted to when the rider is in trouble. The nice part about this way of training is that there is no force involved. 

This chapter and more is being reviewed to be included in my new book

“The Art of Training”.



The book was originally published in 1991 and many people tell me they still often refer to it when training their horses.

Now, with a further 25 years experience in teaching and coaching riders at many levels, I have a much deeper understanding of the human and equine psyche. In the new book I hope to develop a greater understanding how basic techniques can be used at all levels of riding and training, no matter the discipline.

There are things we need to know, simply how does it work and how to make use of this knowledge to bring a horse to great heights. A level where horse and rider become one and...

Riding becomes an Art


Let me take you through the complexity of training a horse, and also ourselves, with explanations that will take one aspect of training and develop greater knowledge of that subject. This is followed with another aspect and more until the picture is whole.

The book should be published later this year or early next year. The cost will be app. $ 39.00. To be the first to be informed when the book will be available, leave your email address HERE.
Bert Hartog.

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