Continuing on with my series of little fixes with big impacts, let’s talk about the outside aids. Inside leg to outside rein. You know, another holy grail of riding like on the bit or through the back. One of those things, that if you are like me, you have heard others espouse for years, but have never been able to achieve with any consistency.
Anyhoo, while working on my lateral work this year using the Dressage Naturally video classroom, I learned that in order for the horse to stay on the track for shoulder-in, the rider’s weight needs to be shifted in the direction of travel. Think outside rib cage to elbow. Very slight. For haunches-in think inside rib cage to elbow. Just a subtle shift of weight that tells the horse to maintain the direction of travel while keeping the position of the lateral work. Try it, you will be pleased.
Anyway, I started thinking about this and how that slight shift tells the horse to stay on the track. What if Idid a lesser version of the same thing on a circle? Wouldn’t it put my horse on the outside aids? And the answer was a resounding YES. Like how the f#$& did I not know this? I could have Jet nicely aligned and bent on the circle. I could squeeze with my inside leg to my outside rein and everything was fine, but no magic. When instead, I aligned him and then just pushed my ribs a smidge to the outside, consistent figures became possible. Changes of direction with one straight stride became so smooth. Spirals and leg yields were SO much easier. Turns and center lines became so much more accurate.
Sit in your chair and play with this a bit. Practice riding a straight line with an arrow of energy going straight forward. Then practice circles left and right pushing your ribs very slightly to your outside elbow while still keeping most of your energy forward on the circle. Then try some lateral work. Feel the shift onto the seat-bone that tells the horse to stay on the line of travel. Think of the outside aids as the horse shifted slightly in that direction, while aligned and bent, thus helping him to balance. Then go try it in your horse. You will thank me!