Using The Outside Rein for Collection

If you've done any dressage training, you will hear your instructor over and over instruct you to ride "Inside Leg to Outside Rein"

But what does this really mean and how do you use this for your gaited horse?

Simply put...The Outside Rein is the rein on the outside of your horse. If you're riding in a ring, this is the side closest to the rail.  

If you're riding in a field or on the trail, this is definitely more subjective. Pick a rein and make that your outside rein. Imagine which direction your next turn or circle may be and make that your outside rein; the rein that will be on the outside of your turn or circle.

To ride your Inside Leg to Outside Rein means you want to put your inside leg on to ask for impulsion and energy and maintain a good connection in our outside rein.  

You may be asking - But why do I care about this?

Riding correctly with our outside rein is not just for Dressage riders. 

Adding these methods and training to your riding routine will improve your communication with your horse, which in turn, will make him more response to your aids.

Being properly collected will also improve your horse's gaits

Even if you only ever ride your horse out on the trail and are not really focused on riding in the proper gaits... riding him in a proper frame and collection will help his fitness level and strengthen the correct muscles in his body.

And as we all know, the more properly fit a body is, the better we feel and the longer we can maintain exercise and activity.

In the Video below

Jennifer Bauer demonstrates how correctly using the outside rein aids will effect your horse's movements.

In This Next Video

Cheryl Lynn West demonstrates how the inside leg helps to balance the horse into the outside rein. Aids on both side should be used evenly to help the horse to step up under their center of gravity.

I also found a great write up from Jane Savoie which details some easy-to-understand exercises to do with your horse while using your outside rein.

The Outside Rein

June 17, 2014 by Jane Savoie

The outside rein is a multi-tasking rein, and it’s important to understand the various jobs it does. Those jobs include:

  • Turning
  • Speed control
  • Connection
  • Flexion
  • Collection/Engagement

Depending on what you want to do, you’ll use different actions of the outside rein.

For example:


Bring the outside rein toward the neck in the direction you want to turn as if putting your fistinto withers. Be sure not to cross over the withers when you move your hand.
Also, while moving your outside hand, be sure to maintain inside flexion so your horse doesn’t counter-flex or bend his neck to the outside. Maintain the flexion to the inside by turning your wrist as if locking and unlocking a door.

Speed Control:

Close your hand in a fist quickly and then relax it again. You should have the feeling of snatching a fly out of the air.


To create connection (put your horse on the bit), close both legs and feel the beginning of the surge of a lengthening.

As you feel the power of the lengthening, close your outside hand in a fist and keep it closed.

If your horse starts to bend his neck to the outside, vibrate the inside rein to keep his neck straight.

Maintain all of those aids for approximately 3 seconds.


Horses can flex 3 ways—left, right, and “in”.

To get flexion left or right (also called “position”), give one quick turn of your inside wrist so that your thumb points toward the center of the ring, and your fingernails point up toward your face.

Once you’ve turned the wrist, return it to “home position” with the thumb as the highest point of the hand.

While turning your inside wrist, support with your outside rein. Pretend that your outside rein is a siderein, and mimic that steady feeling through your arm.

Supporting with your outside rein insures that your horse just flexes at his poll rather than bending his whole neck.

When you ask for flexion “in” at his throatlatch, you’re asking your horse to flex at the jaw. For flexion “in”, vibrate or squeeze and release on ONE rein. The other rein is steady and supporting like a siderein.


To ask your horse to collect, give “collecting half halts” which are a momentary closure of seat, legs, and hands. The action is to quickly “take and give”.

To create engagement within the walk or trot, give the half halt when the inside hind leg is on the ground. (Your inside hip will feel higher or pushed forward.)

To engage the outside hind leg in preparation for a canter depart, push with your seat, close both legs, and give a quick squeeze/release with the outside hand. Give the half halts when the outside hind leg is on the ground.

Video 1 -  Jennifer Bauer, Gaited Horses, using the outside rein for collection in the gaited Horse,, Retrieved Dec 1, 2017
Video 2 - Cheryl Lynn West, Master Instructor CHA, Inside leg to outside rein, Retrieved Dec 1, 2017
Article - Jane Savoie, The Outside Rein, Retrieved Dec 1, 2017


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