Julie, I am so embarrassed!!! I told one of my students to use the same leg as the Way they are turning...and that is incorrect. It should be if you are turning left, use the opposite leg? Please correct me on the proper way to explain this. Also I suggest they do not squeeze when riding, only apply pressure when needed.
The inside leg and the outside leg are used in turning, but they do different things. Outside leg gives direction, inside leg gives impulsion. The inside leg is applied at the girth to elevate the horse's shoulder and give him a point to bend around. the outside leg bends the horse's haunches. For Western horses, when turns may be done at speed, it is sometimes necessary to take the inside leg off the horse, to give him somewhere to turn into. This, of course, is a very brief synopsis of an extremely complex theory of use of the leg aids ;-) Julie Goodnight
(Sue Responds again) Okay, I'm getting it...and you are right it is complicated....When going around an obstacle, should I instruct the student to use outside or inside leg? Example, turning right, should the left leg be used to scoot the horse into it...or should the inside leg (in this situation being the right) be used? Thanks for your help.
Sue There is no one right answer. Beyond the simplistic answer, inside leg gives impulsion and outside leg gives direction (and that is not at all simplistic), there are many different combinations of leg aids that you would use, depending on what you wanted to accomplish and how the horse's body is positioned at that moment in time. The leg at the girth will move the horse's shoulder away, the leg just behind the girth will move the horse's barrel, and the leg behind the girth moves the haunches. These leg aids combined with different seat and rein aids, will give all different responses. When you are teaching at lower levels, it is best to give very simple instructions. Therefore I prefer to tell beginners to use the outside leg (along with eyes, seat and hands) to turn the horse. When they swivel their body properly in a turn, it will naturally close their outside leg on the horse. As the rider begins to understand the proper position and bend of the horse, then inside leg can be used properly to keep the horse's shoulder elevated and keep the horse from dropping his shoulder and leaning into the turn. But until the rider is well positioned and in balance with the horse, the inside leg will get in the way. I hope this has answered your question, but I am guessing that it will only lead to more ;-)