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  1. #1
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    Default Draw-reins: Are they a "thing" or added for rhetorical flourish?

    In my "lack of depth..." thread, some people said dressage trainers were rigging horses/clients up with drawreins and calling it good.

    Really? Does that happen?

    I haven't *ever* had a dressage trainer use draw reins. I have used them on hunters I was hacking for someone else (but took 'em off and put on spurs).

    Not only can I *not* think of very many uses for drawreins in hunter world, but I can't imagine *any* in dressage world.

    Thinking back to the long, behind-the-leg hunter I was asked to ride in drawreins, I don't think I'd want that contact and feel in a dressage horse, ever.

    Can you guys explain? Where are you seeing actual draw rein use as opposed to talk of lyin' cheatin' gadgetry?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


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  2. #2
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    The last time I saw them was at a local hunter barn. Little kids were riding their ponies, not in a lesson but on their own, in draw reins.
    Quote Originally Posted by Linny View Post
    Those martingales were so taut, you could play Ode to Joy on them with a comb



  3. #3
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    When I used to ride hunters (as a kid), and then jumpers and some eventing as a teen, I saw drawreins used as a "quick fix" for slight kids on strong or too-big mounts. I saw them pretty frequently at hunter shows out west last year -- mostly used by trainers prepping horses for clients. I've also seen them used by dressage riders out west . . . not so much on the east coast this year. And I've certainly seen them used a ton when I visited the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show last year. I have never ridden with a dressage trainer who advocates draw reins, but on the other hand, Pessoas, neckstretchers, side reins, de Gouges, dopple longe, etc, seem to be par for the course in many dressage barns that I've seen or been at. Personally, I try to keep equipment to a minimum, in that the only thing I use are side reins when longeing. But, again, I've seen dressage trainers who are anti-drawrein kit horses out in neckstretchers under saddle :/


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  4. #4
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    Goodness, Edward Gal and his assistant use them as tight as can be on their young horses. A local FEI level trainer that trained with him had them on just about every horse she sat on when I boarded at the same barn. I know how so many of you love EG!

    And almost all dressage trainers lunge all the time with tight side or vienna reins. Which is worse than riding a horse with draw reins IMO.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    I have not seen them used with trainer supervision.

    But when I see upper level horses being schooled by amateurs working on their own, I see them go either in the double, or in a snaffle with draw reins. Different riders, different horses, different barns, same gear.


    Don't get it.



  6. #6
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    Mar. 24, 2010
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    I know a TON of dressage riders out here use them, and don't seem to know there's a reason not to. Or that there's a reason their horses have no toplines or top out at whatever level they were trained to before they bought the horse.

    When I rode in breed shows they were used constantly - but you didn't want power from behind like you do in dressage. Even so, they aren't needed and I eventually figured out shoulder fore was a great way to loosen my horse's topline so he'd drop his head instead of any of the gadgety answer you'd see all over the place.


    Now that my horse isn't ducking behind the bit all the time, our contact is soft but constant, and watching video I can see that if I move my hands he moves with me, and if he moves his head my hands move with him and our contact stays pretty consistent through it all. Draw reins can falsify that feeling for a rider and seem as if they are really working. The problem is that riding a horse up into the contact is missing when draw reins are used, and therefore they're used by riders who don't know the difference. As fabulously talented as some horses out there are, a lot of those riders can still win, because the horse looks pretty with its head in a nice position showing total submission, and the horse just naturally moves through its back and steps under without help.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    You're right on, netg! I didn't see it in dressage until I moved to Arizona, then I'd see it all the time. Weird. And the BNTs in AZ seemed to be the biggest offenders.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DancingFoalFarms View Post
    You're right on, netg! I didn't see it in dressage until I moved to Arizona, then I'd see it all the time. Weird. And the BNTs in AZ seemed to be the biggest offenders.
    I generally only see the BNTs here at shows, so don't know about them since they're mostly in the Scottsdale area and I'm in Tucson, but I know it definitely happens.

    I know Conrad Schumaker (sp?) has used a single rein through noseband on horses who use their underneck muscle against their rider, and think a lot of trainers have used that as their justification for draw reins through the bit....
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  9. #9
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    Hmm... I think you're probably right. I've seen a trainer ride a horse with a longe cavesson over the bridle and run draws through the side rings, rather than the bit rings.



  10. #10
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    I know Conrad Schumaker (sp?) has used a single rein through noseband on horses who use their underneck muscle against their rider
    I have seen this at a CS clinic. I have seen one young trainer using draw reins on her own horse, and I don't know horse or trainer enough to know if they were warranted. Other than that, I have never seen anybody at a dressage barn use draw reins, amateur or professional.

    I've always wondered based on the repeated references here if I just am lucky, or have run in the wrong (right?) circles or what!!

    eta: I've also never seen ammies who needed lunge lessons but refused to take them, people who injected unnecessarily, big-time breed snobs, or any of those other horror stories I hear about. It is entirely possible that I am just too much of a pollyanna and am naive and don't see things clearly, but I think I've just been really lucky. Or maybe my budget has limited what I've been exposed to :-D



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by suzier444 View Post
    I have seen this at a CS clinic. I have seen one young trainer using draw reins on her own horse, and I don't know horse or trainer enough to know if they were warranted. Other than that, I have never seen anybody at a dressage barn use draw reins, amateur or professional.

    I've always wondered based on the repeated references here if I just am lucky, or have run in the wrong (right?) circles or what!!
    I was actually shocked when I had my horse boarded somewhere for a clinic and while he was there saw one rider after another put the draw reins on to go ride. I haven't had a dressage trainer use them, and was very surprised to see it, but it explained a lot. I had already known it was a trainer with whom I didn't want to ride based on what I saw of how the horses developed over time.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  12. #12
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    I don't believe for one second that I'm the only person in the world who has used draw reins properly. There have to be other people who have used, seen them used in such a fashion that they don't produce any of the evils automatically ascribed to the use of draw reins.

    The last time I used draw reins was on a big, long horse who had learned that if he put his head up and locked his neck he didn't have to do what the rider asked. Couldn't I get past this without the use of draw reins? Of course, but the correct use of the draw reins meant that I could spend 99% of the ride getting him working properly and building his body so that he didn't have to use the locked neck evasion. Far better for him and for me than spending half the ride getting his neck unlocked and getting him to stop using the wrong muscles again. I think I used the draw reins three or four times on him.

    The draw reins didn't pull (or keep) his head down, or pull his nose to his chest, or make him fall on his forehand, lean on the bit, or any of the other bad things that the use of draw reins can create if used improperly. The draw reins DID drive me absolutely crazy because holding the loose rein in my hands was very distracting and I had to fight the automatic impulse to pick up the slack. When the horse is working in the correct, balanced manner the draw reins should have zero effect on him. The use of draw reins gave me the opportunity to train the correct response to the usual aids, they weren't used to fix the problem.

    I do agree that most of the draw rein use I see is of the cranked down, overly tight, incorrect variety. I don't see very many dressage riders using them.


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  13. #13
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    I'm in the northeast and I don't think I've seen draw reins being used more than a handful of times and never on a dressage horse. That is until I moved a horse to a Morgan barn. I know that not everyone uses them every time they ride but it seems like it. The lesson horses are always outfitted in a German martingale that is often tight enough that the regular reins are hanging looped and the rider is holding tight with the draw rein. It makes me insane but it will never, ever, ever happen to my horse and my daughter is very happy there. I worry that the kids taking lessons are learning to ride with the idea that draw reins are just another piece of tack that you always put on when you ride. But as it is none of my business I try not to spend too much time there and bite my tongue and my cheeks and my lip; you get the picture.

    As to legitimate uses of draw reins, I've always been told that they should only be used on a very short term basis to correct a specific issue. I've never had the need to use them so I don't know what the issue would be that required them.
    "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp



  14. #14
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    Aug. 25, 2005
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    I have had a student work with a GP rider, and show up for our next lesson with a German Olympic martingale. It went into her tack trunk ASAP!
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.


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  15. #15

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    I used draw reins once on my horse - within the last week. I posted about it.

    My trainer has never ridden horse with draw reins and has never had me use draw reins before on horse.

    I tend to overanalyze everything, because I want to do a good job, and sometimes I just need to ride. Trainer is a saint for teaching me, and is so incredibly patient and smart, and horse is a saint for putting up with me.

    I am speculating, but I think that trainer had me use the draw reins to 1) stop me from doing the ridiculous saw down the mouth that I've had to unlearn from hunters (bad training, but regardless, it's there), because I still do it when I get stressed; and 2) teach me that having horse's head vertical DOES NOT equal round...and before, I always THOUGHT that vertical meant round, or through, or whatever it is I'm trying to "FEEL" (and hence my thread the other day that developed into such a great discussion and was so amazingly helpful!!).

    It worked. With 15 minutes or less of draw rein use, he was able to cure me, hopefully permanently but even if temporarily, of both. I stopped the see saw action because I had a new toy to play with and manage, along with my whip. I didn't have the draw reins too tight. More importantly, I also saw him vertical in the mirrors but felt nothing different. The very next lesson, doing 10 m circles and serpentines and the CORRECT methods, he became round, or through, or again, that amazing thing that I FELT when I thought he was going to buck...(whatever the proper term is that I am trying to feel ) ...and I freaked because he felt so different. But I wasn't sawing his mouth or trying to get him vertical, I was focusing on the serpentines and 10 m circles and other such wonders. That was an amazing lesson.

    Today, I had another amazing lesson. I didn't ONCE saw his mouth down, or even try to, and I didn't once worry about if his nose was vertical not because trainer told me it was irrelevant, but because now I could feel the difference. We focused on other things...namely...learning to ride (more importantly feel ok with the ride) of this sweet creature - the horse who trainer has now created who looks, smells, neighs, kisses, and acts EXACTLY like mine but feels like a rockstar. We definitely had rockstar trot moments, and some rockstar canter moments, and I didn't once get frightened or scared, which is HUGE progress in just two weeks. I can't remember who wrote this on my fear thread - Janet, I think?? sorry if I'm incorrect and not giving someone proper credit! - that we have to get used to the big gaits just a few strides at a time. That's what we did today, and I was totally fine.

    I didn't respond to the trainer thread because I typed a long message that never posted and I was too irritated to retype it. But I did want to say that what I looked for in a trainer was someone who was good to me and horse, knew that safety and health of me and horse was our number one, drama-free was number two, and having fun was number three. I said that I didn't care if we stayed at training level forever, and I mean that. Heck, I didn't know the levels, I didn't know what medals were, and I certainly didn't know that trainer had medals. My trainer is very talented, and if I had the horse for it or the riding skills or guts for it could take us to the top I believe. But more importantly, trainer listens to me and knows that this is my downtime and release and knows that I will work very hard...but that trainer has to work hard to get into my brain and teach me things as an adult rider that may be harder than teaching a 20 year old without as much fear or life experience. And trainer has never let me or horse down - even clipped hearts into horse's neck at my asking, then RODE him in a recognized show like that.

    So...in my long-winded way, and sort of answering two threads at once, if 15 minutes of draw reins cured me of a very bad habit AND taught me how to FEEL, heck, I'm all for it. Yes, there were probably other ways, and YES, trainer has probably tried those methods and more first.
    LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


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  16. #16
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    Jul. 25, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by DancingFoalFarms View Post
    You're right on, netg! I didn't see it in dressage until I moved to Arizona, then I'd see it all the time. Weird. And the BNTs in AZ seemed to be the biggest offenders.
    Yup....many years ago when I was with an instructor and judge in the Phoenix area she would regularly strap on the draw reins often combined with...wait for it.... a double bridle Her students with upper level horses who for whatever reason could not get their 100k horse on the bit also used said draw rein/double bridle combo.



  17. #17
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    Aug. 21, 2012
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    I was introduced to the German martingale many years ago, and I view it as a piece of safety equipment after having a long conversation with a friend who, like me, had a few tough horses to ride. I use it exclusively as a second set of reins. It never acts on the horse unless he tries to buck, bolt or run away with me. I still consider it as important to my personal safety as a helmet. Prior to using the martingale, I had my share of dangerous situations where I could have been seriously injured but luckily was not.
    When I start working with a new horse or a youngster they learn very quickly that I can stay in control when they become naughty or frightened by who knows what.
    I don't have the upper body strength I wish I did, but the German martingale gives me the leverage I need to prevent, stop or diffuse situations quickly and easily. I can't tell you how many times I've had the reins pulled out of my hands and I was pulled forward before I started using the martingale. Now, I can't remember the last time it has happened.

    I don't need the german martingale to ride my horses on any given day, but I use it at home, just like wearing my helmet for every ride...just in case the unexpected happens.
    The difference is that I do know how to hold and ride with 2 separate reins so my plain snaffle is the only rein in action. Some riders may find this very challenging depending upon where they are with their skills.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ticker View Post
    I was introduced to the German martingale many years ago, and I view it as a piece of safety equipment after having a long conversation with a friend who, like me, had a few tough horses to ride. I use it exclusively as a second set of reins. It never acts on the horse unless he tries to buck, bolt or run away with me. I still consider it as important to my personal safety as a helmet. Prior to using the martingale, I had my share of dangerous situations where I could have been seriously injured but luckily was not.
    When I start working with a new horse or a youngster they learn very quickly that I can stay in control when they become naughty or frightened by who knows what.
    I don't have the upper body strength I wish I did, but the German martingale gives me the leverage I need to prevent, stop or diffuse situations quickly and easily. I can't tell you how many times I've had the reins pulled out of my hands and I was pulled forward before I started using the martingale. Now, I can't remember the last time it has happened.

    I don't need the german martingale to ride my horses on any given day, but I use it at home, just like wearing my helmet for every ride...just in case the unexpected happens.
    The difference is that I do know how to hold and ride with 2 separate reins so my plain snaffle is the only rein in action. Some riders may find this very challenging depending upon where they are with their skills.
    A German martingale is only one rein to hold.


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  19. #19
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    I once had a trainer who had students use ONLY the draw rein (snaffle reins tied up in knot), until they learned to turn the horse using their seat and legs. It was only done for short sessions, and not at every ride, but it was pretty effective, as it is near impossible to turn a horse just by pulling its head in the new direction using only draw reins.

    I also had another trainer (USDF Gold Medalist, at that) who used either a double bridle or draw reins on EVERY SINGLE HORSE. Her reasoning was that she rode 6-10 horses every day, had an old neck injury, and couldn't take having them pull on her all day long. She also had most (all?) of her students who weren't using a double bridle bridele use draw reins, at darned near every ride. And yes, she knew it was "wrong", because whenever there was a clinic at the barn, or other dressage knowledgeable visitors, she HID all the draw reins so they weren't in plain sight.

    The barn I am currently at hosts a lot of clinics with various people, and we had one last year where a rider used draw reins in the clinic. She would not take them off, even when the clinician asked her to do so - said she couldn't "keep her horse's head down" without draw reins. The clinician wasn't thrilled, but she wasn't the pushy type and spent most of the ride trying to teach the rider how to ride more off the snaffle reins instead of the draw reins.

    The trainer I am currently with hardly ever uses draw reins (not sure I have seen her use them on ANY horse). Nor does she let her students use them.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    I once had a trainer who had students use ONLY the draw rein (snaffle reins tied up in knot), until they learned to turn the horse using their seat and legs. It was only done for short sessions, and not at every ride, but it was pretty effective, as it is near impossible to turn a horse just by pulling its head in the new direction using only draw reins.

    I also had another trainer (USDF Gold Medalist, at that) who used either a double bridle or draw reins on EVERY SINGLE HORSE. Her reasoning was that she rode 6-10 horses every day, had an old neck injury, and couldn't take having them pull on her all day long. She also had most (all?) of her students who weren't using a double bridle bridele use draw reins, at darned near every ride. And yes, she knew it was "wrong", because whenever there was a clinic at the barn, or other dressage knowledgeable visitors, she HID all the draw reins so they weren't in plain sight.

    The barn I am currently at hosts a lot of clinics with various people, and we had one last year where a rider used draw reins in the clinic. She would not take them off, even when the clinician asked her to do so - said she couldn't "keep her horse's head down" without draw reins. The clinician wasn't thrilled, but she wasn't the pushy type and spent most of the ride trying to teach the rider how to ride more off the snaffle reins instead of the draw reins.

    The trainer I am currently with hardly ever uses draw reins (not sure I have seen her use them on ANY horse). Nor does she let her students use them.
    If a trainer's horses are "pulling on her all day long", they're not a very good trainer. ( And yes, I ride looooots of squirrels, without DR.)

    Wish you would share that draw rein story in the depth of trainers thread.



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