Knowing what your inside leg and outside legs are is extremely important in riding. Learning this should be one of the first things you learn when you start riding a horse. Once you know which leg is your inside leg, it gets much easier to remember which leg is which and it also gets easier to know how and when to use them.
Which Leg Is My Inside Leg? My Outside Leg?
If you are riding in an arena, your inside leg is always the leg that is facing the middle of the arena and your outside leg is always the leg that faces the railing or outside of the arena. This means that if you are riding clockwise around the arena, your right leg is the inside leg and your left leg is the outside leg. If you are riding counterclockwise, they would be switched and your left leg would be the inside leg and your right leg would be the outside leg.
Which Leg Do I Use To Keep My Horse On The Rail?
If you are trying to keep your horse against the wall of the arena, you should use your inside leg to push him over to the outside. If your horse tends to ignore this cue, tapping him with your heel to help push him over can help.
What Does It Mean When My Trainer Asks Me To Push My Horse With My Inside Leg To My Outside Rein?
Your trainer is asking you to use your inside leg to push your horse’s body towards the outside of the arena or to put him closer to the rail while still moving forward and keeping contact with your outside rein. Keeping contact with the outside rein should help to keep your horse straight and moving forward rather than having your horse falling to one side or the other.
One example of this is when I was in a lesson a little while back and my trainer was having me canter counterclockwise around the arena. I had to use my inside leg to keep the circle we were making large and round. I had to use my outside rein to keep my horse straight in the cantering. If I wasn’t using my outside rein, he would turn his head in and begin to fall to the inside rather than keeping a steady straight canter.
How Do I Use My Legs When Posting At The Trot?
This is something that is learned once the post is mastered. You may notice that it is kind of hard to keep your leg on the horse when posting to keep them on the rail. This is something I too struggled with when I was first learning how to post as I tend to get really disorganized in the saddle when learning something new. Basically, if you are trying to keep your horse on the rail when performing a posting trot, you can push them over with your inside leg whenever you sit one beat of the trot.
So basically your rhythm should be stand, sit and squeeze your inside leg, then stand again and sit and squeeze. Do this until your horse is on the rail and then use your hands to better keep them there. Some horses get irritated if you are consistently bumping their sides so using this tactic only as much as you need to is important.
You can use this same tactic when urging a horse forward as well. When posting, do the same rhythm that I mentioned above but instead of just using your inside leg, use both your inside and outside legs to help urge the horse forward and faster.
Is It Necessary To Use My Legs When Riding?
Yes, many horses don’t respond as well to hand guidance as they do with leg guidance making the use of leg almost mandatory.
I ride a mare named Olivia that needs contact everywhere. If you ride her without using both your legs and your hands, she won’t respond properly and you will end up looking like a disorganized sack of potatoes as you bounce around the arena. Using guidance with both your hands and legs and keeping contact at all times is crucial to getting around easily on that mare. This is where I learned so much about communication with horses as you ride them because riding Olivia requires so much.
Other horses require minimal contact, but light guidance from your leg is necessary even if the horse is sensitive. I ride a half-Arabian gelding named Sedona who requires such minimal contact that I can’t even use my inner thighs to hold onto him without him getting anxious. Even though this horse needs such a light touch to ride him, he too needs guidance, though minimal, from my legs to show him where I want him to go.
What Do I Do With My Legs At The Canter?
This is something that I would like to say is my weak spot when it comes to riding. When I am cantering around the arena, I find it so hard to stay organized and secure in my place on the horse.
In my most recent lesson, I practiced the canter and using my legs. What my trainer instructed me to do is use my inside leg to keep the circle I was doing wide and round while pressing my outside leg into my stirrup and keeping my outside leg off of him. This helped to keep him straight. I also incorporated my outside rein to straighten out his head which helped not only to straighten him out but also to keep him from falling down into the inside.
Learning what to do and what not to do with your legs is important so you can know exactly how to communicate with your horse effectively. Once you learn which leg is your inside leg and which leg is your outside leg, the rest of the communication will sort of just fall into place.