By Real Riderz
Actually, the rider in the picture above is using a bit too much inside rein, but this is a common mistake and a free photo so what can you do XD
So what is an inside? In easy terms, the inside is the side next to the arena center. The outside rein is where the wall, border, etc. of the arena is. In more complicated terms, the outside is the side the horse has to bend into and the inside rein es esentially the side which is left a bit hollow (yeah not the ideal word).
In a previous article, we discussed inside leg to outside rein (link to that here). However, that kind of left the inside rein a mystery. Aren’t we supposed to use both reins? Why so much emphasis on the outside? When do we use the inside rein?
The inside rein put emphasis on the bend and helps keep the horse’s neck flexed. It’s not truly where the bend comes from. The bend comes from the inside leg (hollowing out the horse), the outside leg keeps the hind from drifting to the outside, and the the outside rein stays at the neck and still (controlling the speed/impulsion). Bend is also helped by your seat (seatbones/thighs). You should feel a bit more on the inside seat bone without leaning with your upper body.
So, esentially you should be able to ride without your inside rein. The horse should be able to bend without having to do a bunch of pulling on that rein. So one way to check yourself and how well you turn/bend your horse is to ride only with the outside rein. If you don’t feel confident enough to do so, try releasing the inside rein for a few strides after asking for the bend or on a circle. Watch that your horse keeps the bend and doesn’t stick his/her nose out to the outside.
Of course, your horse won’t always keep the bend but don’t be discouraged. Try solutions such as more inside leg (e.g. try shoulder in/shoulder fore) and if that doesn’t work, go back to basic groundwork/lunging. Stay tuned for an article on that soon (or maybe just check out some links on YouTube about grounwork, there’s plenty there!).
*Do note that your horse will unlikely be bent perfectly for long without any support with the inside rein (especially a green horse or a horse lacking proper training). But the bend in the body comes from the inside leg, flexion or bend in the neck is what comes from the hand (or fingers in best case scenario).