The age old advice in riding a dressage horse is to ride from the inside leg to the outside rein. That is easy going around the outside of the arena; the outside is nearest to the wall or the arena railing. On a circle you can still know where the outside is fairly easily. But what about the sideways movements? Ah…there’s the rub. Here is what my Florida coach Lou Denizard has to say about it.
“The 2nd level test is where the confusion sets in. This is the beginning of collection and the requirement for ‘bend’. I sometimes call it the “Dyslexic Period” and trainers have to help their students with references to left or right not just inside or outside. The renvers movement is introduced at this level. In renvers the outside of the arena becomes the inside of the bend.”
Here is a diagram that shows what is required in the renvers movement.
In this movement you are not just riding inside leg to outside rein. Now which way is the outside? Which way is the inside? Which side is which? I really struggled with the renvers. What does Lou say to his students if they are struggling?
” I stop and ask them how they would like it handled; do they want instructions as “right” “left” or ” the driveway side of the arena” or “the house side of the arena.” I also like to break it down as to what the legs and hands are doing. Two legs move the horse forward and one leg moves the horse sideways. And the legs have to have an interchanging quality, the ability to be strong one leg more than the other or both to push the horse forward. It’s important that the rider keeps both legs ‘on’ the horse and doesn’t allow the pushing with one leg to allow the other leg to come away from the horse’s side. I tell students they are ‘peeing on the hydrant’when I see one leg has come away from the horse’s side.”
I can tell you that he has said that to me. Often!
As the rider moves up the levels the inside outside dilemma does not get any easier.
PIROUTTES. Now the rider is asking for the canter to go up not out. The Inside leg = bend . Outside leg =getting the strides around. Horse falls in and spins? Inside leg must stop the spin, outside rein helps. Horse is getting stuck? Both legs on to move out more or up more .
HALF PASS. The riders’ outside leg = sideways movement .Inside leg = bend and forward. But ….quarters leading? Less outside leg and more inside leg. Shoulders leading? More outside leg…..but….keep inside leg because inside leg keeps the horse’s shoulder up. Are you still with me?Believe me when I tell you that to achieve a half pass with movement like the horse shown below the rider is skillfully juggling both legs and both reins for Every Single Step.
SHOULDER IN. This movement: horse’s body straighter, shoulders come away from outside wall,. Forward and sideways simultaneously!
Here is a short video of Biasini and me in a lesson with Lou. The exercises in canter work on being straight ( leg yield) to bend ( half pass) and back to straight( leg yield). The references by Lou to renvers are not to actually ride a renvers but to ‘think’ I am preparing for renvers in the corners before riding Biasini into leg yield. Keeping him to the outside to be straight!
So there you have it. Inside? Outside? Which side? Which way?
Confused? You are not alone! Dressage is a sport that requires a very active brain and body. And…I think this post is a great response to theWhich Way photo challenge for January 17.