Inside Leg to Outside Rein
The Diagonal Aiding
Founder of Levade
Life Long Equestrian and Horse Trainer
To have your horse on your outside rein requires your horse to react to your inside leg pressure, yielding and propelling them forward. This leg pressure is typically in short pulses with your calf from a quiet leg opposed to a constant squeeze.
This is what you can do to practice nailing the diagonal aiding.
An easy exercise to get your horse on the outside rein is to establish a 20m circle letting the horse’s spine match the line you are traveling over.
Start slowly to spiral inward by turning your body toward the centre of the circle. The more revolutions it takes the better. Let your horse balance towards the centre, making sure not to fall inward. At this point the hind feet are still following the imprints of the front feet.
Tip: imagine there is a yoga ball on the inside shoulder of your horse. Its positioned right in front of your knee and you want to mould your horse’s neck , shoulder and rib cage to that ball. This should create a soft curve in your horse.
Depending on your horse’s degree of training you can end up at a 10 or 12 m circle. As long as your horse’s hind feet and front feet still follow each other in one line you're ok!
Still turning the shoulders inward, take your inside lower leg back by about a hand’s width ( your outside leg is back already because you are on a bending line!). From here, start to leg yield the hind-legs outward with your rhythmic driving leg when the inside hind leg is in the forward swinging phase. In rising, that’s just shortly before you come up out of the saddle.
Take as many revolutions outwards as it took you to spiral in. While doing this, You should feel your horse’s pushing power in your outside rein.
Go in and out several times to get a good feel for the dialogue your inside leg can establish with your outside rein. Managing the thrust of your horse hind legs into the desired direction.
Change direction and repeat on the other side. The stiff side of your horse will feel different than the hollow side and might require slight adjustments in your seat and leg position.
The principal stays the same. Keep an “ear” on your horse and proceed with improving in mind, not demanding a perfect outcome.
This exercise can be done in all three gaits.
Ultimately this exercise becomes a tool when you minimize the action and you simply drive your horse into your outside hand.