The Bearing Rein

I thought I knew how to ride. I rode when I was a teenage. Even took jumping lessons although most of the time I just watched others jump because they put me on a horse that would not do anything without being hit with a stick which I was not willing to do. I knew you pulled the left rein to go left and the right rein to go right and both reins to stop.

I remember my first lessons learning to ride as an adult nearly 40 years old. I was on this real nice paint horse. But she kept drifting in to the center of the arena and stopping. The trainer asked me what I did that for. I said the horse did it on her own. The trainer said that horse is trained for dressage so it can't be the horse at fault.

It was one of the other students who took me aside and said that horse needs a bearing rein. What the heck is a bearing rein? When you are turning right you pull the right rein slightly to go right but you don't just let the left rein flop down, you lay it against the neck to keep the horse on a steady circle track. That is a bearing rein. The student who told me wasn't even a good rider but she saw what I was doing wrong.

Later I read a book by a dressage expert that had diagrams of the effect on the movement of a horse by the exact placement of the hand when cueing the horse with the reins. It also showed exact placement of the rider's foot for precise movement of the horse. I remember taking a lesson from another trainer later on. I moved the horse slightly to the side and straightened him out with imperceptable cues. And the trainer said the horse hadn't even been taught to do that. I will try to find that book again to recommend it.

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