Rein Back

Rein back is the order of the week for me at the moment. I`ve been using it with horses who are apt to hollow in the halt, and be reluctant to engage their abdominals and lift their tummy. It`s not that they are particularly disengaged with their hindquarters, it`s more that they need to step up and raise the bar with how much their muscles are working!

The key to rein back is to keep it steady, one step at a time, and to keep the aids mild. You should feel that as your horse lifts his legs to take them backwards his back comes up slightly, his neck stays relaxed and out, and nose drops marginally. If they come against the hand you need less of a rein aid, more of the seat and leg. When a horse comes against the hand and stays hollow in the back during the rein back they also cannot lift their foot up to step backwards, and tend to do more of a Michael Jackson moonwalk.

A couple of mares I`ve ridden this week did the moonwalk, scraping their feet back whilst they locked their back to resist my aids. In hand, I`m going to work both of them at stepping backwards over poles because in order to rein back over a pole they have to lift a leg up! Hopefully this will trigger the correct muscles to work so that when I ask for rein back from the saddle they will keep using their tummy muscles.

Another horse I`m riding this week is on a long, slow rehab, and is doing plenty of rein back to build his tummy muscles. It made a change to feel that he totally understood and was balanced through the movement, keeping his feet moving back in diagonal pairs.

So yes, clients, expect to be doing some rein back over the next couple of weeks!

The Rubber Curry Comb

I was teaching rein back to a client a couple of weeks ago. It`s one of those movements all hackers utilise, opening gates for example, but how many people do it correctly?

The footfalls of a correctly ridden rein back mirror the footfalls of trot – each diagonal pair moves in turn.

Now, think about this the next time you rein back, and I`m sure you`ll find it is more of a shuffle. One leg creeps back, then another, and another, and the other. The horse is usually short in the neck and hollow.

This was how my rider and horse reined back the first couple of times. It was all a rush and veered to the right.

Firstly we ran through the aids; both legs behind the girth, rein pressure and the verbal command “back”. Often the legs swing too far back, which unbalances the rider. The rider should…

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