Basic Horse Riding Terminology

Learning to ride is so exciting, but you’ll quickly realise there is a huge amount of jargon to learn! If being asked to “change the rein” or “sit for two” is giving you a headache, then our guide to basic horse riding terminology is here to help! 


Basic Horse Riding Terminology

Change the Rein: “Changing the rein” means to change direction. You will most often be asked to change the rein across the diagonal. This means that as you reach the end of the short side of the arena, you use that corner to ride across the school on a diagonal line to the opposite corner (e.g. K to M or H to F). You may also change the rein across the short diagonal or on a circle / half circle. 

Across the Diagonal: You may be asked to “change the rein across the diagonal” or “trot across the diagonal”. This means you are using the diagonal line across the arena to change direction (e.g. between K and M or H and F). 

Change the Diagonal: “Changing the diagonal” does not mean changing direction - you may be “on the wrong diagonal” if you are sitting to the trot as your horse’s outside leg reaches out in front. In order to help the horse balance, you need to sit as the inside leg reaches out in front. You may be asked to “change the diagonal” by sitting for two beats. Knowing if you are on the correct diagonal is tricky and even I struggle with it after 10 years of riding! 

Sit for Two: You will be told to “sit for two” if you are on the wrong diagonal when trotting. This means you need to sit for two trot beats, rather than one, to switch diagonals. 

Whole Ride / As A Ride: You may be asked to “trot as a ride” or “whole ride halt”. The “whole ride” refers to everyone in the lesson.

Outside Track: The outside track runs all the way around the outside of the arena / school. This is where you would normally ride for most of your lesson.

Inside Track: The inside track runs parallel to the outside track, around 1.5-2m inside the arena / school.

Inside Leg to Outside Rein: If you’re a new or novice rider and you don’t understand what “inside leg to outside rein” means, then don’t despair! It may be a fairly fundamental aspect of learning to ride, but even seasoned riders can struggle to grasp the concept. Put simply, it’s the phrase we use to describe balancing the horse using our inside leg (the leg nearest to the middle of the arena / circle) and outside rein (the hand nearest to the outside of the arena / circle). This encourages the horse to bend correctly, as you push the barrel (middle / body) of the horse towards the outside and maintain forward movement (impulsion) with your leg, whilst balancing and collecting the horse with your outside rein. 

Pommel: The pommel is the name we give to the front part of the saddle. When learning to trot for the first time, you may be told to “hold the pommel” or “hold the front of the saddle” to help you balance and stop you from pulling on the reins.

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