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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2010
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    Deep in the Heart of Texas aka Houston
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    Default bending at the neck and not the pole

    My friend/BO/trainer is working my rescue tb for me (I've only been riding less than a year). She's been working him in draw reins (he's only been back into under saddle work for a couple weeks) but attached at the sides of the girth like side reins. I finally rode him yesterday and noticed that while he does keep his nose down, he is bending his neck and not his pole. I asked her about it and she said that its because he doesnt have the correct muscles yet. I've been reading dressage books to educate myself and the Principles of Riding by the German National Riding Federation says that you shouldn't be doing this. Clarification please? thanks in advance!



  2. #2
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    Aug. 30, 2001
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    Purcellville, VA
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    Default

    While I might use draw reins sometimes, I would not jump to those in the first 2 weeks of work for any horse, much less an OTTB.

    They are a good tool when used appropriately.

    My usual routine for my OTTBs is do the first couple of test rides. I do those in a pasture, because a ring is small for a horse used to running around a track. The test ride usually is on a loose rein, I see how steering (rudimentary) and bending (not usually an installed option) work. I'll see if the horse understands canter departs on both leads (often not, many break from the gate on the right lead, swap around the corners to left, and back to right for straightaways), and remember that for a lot of race horses, pulling means go faster.

    Anyway, I work on getting the horse to understand that leg on means lower head, neck and poll, and work on most of the stuff at walk and trot first.

    My current project does get draw reins every once in a while....as in, out of 8 months of riding (3-5x a week), he's had the draw reins on about 8 or 9 times. Usually, a ride starts to fall to pieces when something a bit difficult is introduced, he inverts and wants to go faster, after a few minutes of seeing if I can remind him leg on = head down/lift back failing, I will go in and get the draw reins. I will use them the next day and work on the same thing, usually he is smart and does not even touch them on day two, but if he did, I'll put them on as a "just in case" on day 3, usually dismounting to remove them partway through the 3rd day. If he did use them on the 3rd day, I make sure that the rest of the week is different work that won't need it.

    If I find that I'm "needing" draw reins more than 2 rides in a row, I re-evaluate what we are doing. Am I asking too much too fast? Does he have the muscles necessary to do what I'm asking? Do we need to go do some hacks on hills on a loose rein? Etc.



  3. #3
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    Default

    We've been lunging him about 2-3x per week while he gains weight and starts to develop some muscle. But he's only been undersaddle in consistant work for the past couple weeks.



  4. #4
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    Default

    You are there and see the horse. Either you are happy with the training and progress, or you are not.

    That you have been lunging the horse does not change the fact that I, personally, would not be going to draw reins in the first 2 weeks of u/s work on any horse. If I felt that I needed something that early in the retraining process, I'd probably give a standing martingale a try to limit the upward head flinging.



  5. #5
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    Sep. 25, 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    Default

    As a general rule, draw reins are not going to help the horse develop correct musculature or learn anything about how to accept contact. Most people just use them to force the horse into artificial roundness as a short term fix.

    And those that would understand how to draw reins well enough to help develop the correct musculature are probably not going to need them. They'll be educated enough that they can ride the horse from the seat and leg into proper contact, and over time the muscles on the topline develop.

    If the horse has a weak topline and any sort of conformational challenge and has only been back to work for a couple of weeks, it could take several months of correct riding for the horse to look "round".

    And not to be too picky, but the term you are looking for is "poll" not "pole".



  6. #6
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    Default

    Thanks for the correction! How do I address the draw reins issue with my friend/trainer? She has years of experience while I only have months... should I just start to ride him? She said that she's using the draw reins to keep his head down and to have him work from behind because he does like to pull himself along on the forehand.



  7. #7
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    Jan. 21, 2003
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    Charles Town, WV
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    Default

    Ahhhh, the razor in the monkey's hands. You need a new trainer and maybe a new barn to ride at.
    Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
    Now apparently completely invisible!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2008
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    Default

    Hello Mack,
    Molliwog gives you very good advice, and particularly about the draw reins. This horse likely knows nothing about the aids, either hand or leg or seat and it's incumbent that you teach him these as part of the language that you will both use to communicate with each other. This means that you will have to understand these aids yourself in order to teach them. This will come in time if you study well but, to start with, a very poor function of the hand is to pull the nose in and back with whatever type of rein you use to " make your horse round" or "to develop it's musculature" both of which premises are nonsense and will serve only to get you in trouble.
    You have the option of learning how to make your horse light to the contact without overflexing the poll,or overbending the neck by specific activities of the hand (flexions) and whether or not you choose to learn these techniques I would first simply get comfortable walking and trotting your horse around the arena and learning a little more about him and how to sit correctly. The lessons of the leg are equally important and a good knowledgeable instructor is very helpful at this stage,
    Good luck.



  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiki View Post
    Ahhhh, the razor in the monkey's hands. You need a new trainer and maybe a new barn to ride at.
    This.

    Sorry.

    Yes, DRs keep the head down, but they do absolutely nothing to affect the back end.

    If that's what the "trainer" said, then they neither know how to ride properly, nor how to use DRs properly.

    You are likely going to end up with a horse who stiffly holds his head and neck where the DRs forced him to, or he will start backing off contact, and those things are WAY harder to fix than teaching the horse properly from the start how to flex at his poll and give to, but not avoid, pressure.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  10. #10
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    Jan. 22, 2006
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    Default

    I wouldn't get too defensive yet. Is she using them every ride? Did you ride in them? Have you seen her ride with them? If so is she riding off of the draw rein or is it looser and only used when he wants to invert? While I am not a huge draw rein fan, and often it is used incorrectly there are worse things that could be happening. Maybe just say "hey lets see how he does without the draw reins today?" Some horses do go through stages and yes the draw reins can help, I use them much like another poster does, for a few rides if the horse is really resisting and then they get put away for weeks. Is the horse hot? I do know some people feel safer and feel like they have more control with draw reins and use them for that purpose.

    I wouldn't go running off yet, some people are totally anti anything but a fat snaffle and no extra aids, but at times they do have their place and if not used constantly they are not a short cut.



  11. #11
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    Jan. 22, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JB View Post
    This.

    Sorry.

    Yes, DRs keep the head down, but they do absolutely nothing to affect the back end.

    If that's what the "trainer" said, then they neither know how to ride properly, nor how to use DRs properly.

    You are likely going to end up with a horse who stiffly holds his head and neck where the DRs forced him to, or he will start backing off contact, and those things are WAY harder to fix than teaching the horse properly from the start how to flex at his poll and give to, but not avoid, pressure.
    Yes but at times DR's can help lighten a horse and you are able to engage the hindend easier (at least this is true with my horse, I have not ridden many others in DR's) this is with the DR looser than my regular rein and only using it marginally when my horse wants to root and drag himself around with his shoulders. I find that he will then rock back (not getting BTV and dropping behind my leg either) better. But I have seen it when it is all hand and NO leg and the rider thinks everything is good and the horse is using their hindend when really if you were to take a picture their hindend is higher than their front and its trailing way out behind.



  12. #12
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    Default

    They have been used every single ride for the past several weeks. Yesterday was the first time I was allowed to ride him and my first time riding with double reins.



  13. #13
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    Jan. 21, 2003
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    Default

    The flexion comes from behind, not from the front.
    Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
    Now apparently completely invisible!



  14. #14
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    Oct. 16, 2008
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    Central Oklahoma
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    Default

    I hate hate hate draw reins.

    Many of my horses were ridden in draw reins and learnt how to carry themselves in a false frame, and how to evade a true contact. They look round but with hind legs trailing behind, with a stiff back to add to the whole cocktail.

    This is one of the hardest habits to break.

    Do yourself a favor and find yourself someone who knows what the heck he/she is doing.



  15. #15
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    Nov. 7, 2008
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mackandblues View Post
    They have been used every single ride for the past several weeks. Yesterday was the first time I was allowed to ride him and my first time riding with double reins.
    Not only is she using draw reins every ride, but she's asking someone who is admittedly not at all that experienced to use them also?

    I'd find another trainer at great speed. In the meantime, just turn your guy out and let him be a horse for a bit or something, but don't let her keep after him with draw reins.

    At two weeks under saddle, he probably doesn't have anything like enough correct muscle over his top line to bring his back end under and lift his back, which is NECESSARY for that correct dressage 'headset' (I hate that word - makes it sound like you put the head in position and just leave it there) and asking him to do so is just going to cause him to develop bad habits that you'll have to work through later when you want to go on in your work, because he doesn't have the basics down at ALL.

    (It doesn't matter how much you've been lunging him, either - think about it. Even if he does have the muscle to correctly collect himself on the lunge - you're putting a person up there who has some weight and moves around, so you're making the job MUCH harder for him as soon as you put a rider on his back. It's like the difference between you being able to lift your arm and you being able to lift your arm while holding a weight. The latter is much more effort and you need to build your muscles up to it.)



  16. #16
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    Feb. 3, 2010
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mackandblues View Post
    They have been used every single ride for the past several weeks. Yesterday was the first time I was allowed to ride him and my first time riding with double reins.
    This is your horse so you need to be making the calls. Sounds like you're doubting your friend's abilities (and rightfully so). Just because friend is experienced doesn't mean friend knows better than you- the concern you've raised here just goes to prove that.

    Find a new trainer that will work with you and your horse, one that uses classical dressage principles. You'll end up so much farther ahead than having to fix problems caused by the draw reins later.

    *It's impossiblt to judge whether the draw reins are being used correctly or not without seeing video of the friend and the horse. However, based on what the OP has stated there is reason for concern and IMO reason to move on to a different trainer.



  17. #17
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    Sep. 18, 2003
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    OP, you're asking excellent questions for someone who has been riding for less than a year. Your trainer/BO/whomever is taking shortcuts and isn't doing you any favors. Nor did whoever encouraged you get a rescue TB as your first horse.

    I hope you'll be able to gracefully get out of the situation with the trainer/BO/etc., and find someone who can train your horse without gadgets. Also, look for someone with horses you can learn on, too. I can tell you from experience that green horse + green rider is not a good combo.
    __________________________
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    the best day in ten years,
    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."



  18. #18
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    Default

    How short are the draws...? There's a huge difference between using them to keep ears out of your face (basically a martingale that can be completely released if necessary) while asking them to work correctly and build the muscles, and using them to create a "headset"...
    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."



  19. #19
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    Apr. 1, 2003
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by molliwog View Post
    As a general rule, draw reins are not going to help the horse develop correct musculature or learn anything about how to accept contact. Most people just use them to force the horse into artificial roundness as a short term fix.

    And those that would understand how to draw reins well enough to help develop the correct musculature are probably not going to need them. They'll be educated enough that they can ride the horse from the seat and leg into proper contact, and over time the muscles on the topline develop.

    If the horse has a weak topline and any sort of conformational challenge and has only been back to work for a couple of weeks, it could take several months of correct riding for the horse to look "round".

    And not to be too picky, but the term you are looking for is "poll" not "pole".
    I agree and disagree with some of this.
    1. M said "draw reins are not going to help the horse develop correct musculature or learn anything about how to accept contact." It can and does help develop the correct musculature IF used correctly. I personally would not be so quick to use on a OTTB just coming into non-track work but without seeing the horse no one knows if your trainer is using them correctly.
    2. M said "...are probably not going to need them..." they might not "need" them however MANY top trainers in Europe use draw reins WITH the snaffle rein to augment the snaffle. In other words use the rein ONLY when you need it rather than constantly, thus spending less time working on the just getting down to basics and more time on more advanced topics. (Or you can do like I did when my mare was having female issues and spend an hour almost every session on trying to get a decent training level frame instead of working on maturing her third level movements.)
    3. M said "it could take several months of correct riding for the horse to look "round" - I agree whole heartedly with this - think minimally 6 months, maybe more.

    JMO

    And I do NOT think you should be riding with the draw reins - my trainer waited an entire year (I ride 3rd level, schooling PSG) before she even mentioned draw reins - and I HAVE ridden in double reins (for many years in my younger days I rode a horse with a pellem - excuse spelling).
    Sandy in Fla.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gloria View Post
    I hate hate hate draw reins.

    Many of my horses were ridden in draw reins and learnt how to carry themselves in a false frame, and how to evade a true contact. They look round but with hind legs trailing behind, with a stiff back to add to the whole cocktail.

    This is one of the hardest habits to break.

    Do yourself a favor and find yourself someone who knows what the heck he/she is doing.
    echo you - a toll in a tool box only to be used by expreince hands as when nessacary as like last result lol



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