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  1. #61
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    Beasmom wrote:
    Let me ask, though, if the horse does not yield to the rein (or leg, or pressure from seat bones), what IS he supposed to do? How are we to communicate?
    In dressage, a soft, light elastic contact is a natural byproduct of balance and relaxation. If the horse doesn’t offer soft, light elastic contact it’s up to the rider to figure out and address the cause of the imbalance and tension. It could be that the rider is imbalanced, tense, using inappropriate aids or that the contact is inconsistent or too strong. Or the horse may be rushing, tense, crooked or unresponsive to the driving aids.

    If all of these issues have been adequately addressed and the horse still does not relax, and offer a soft, light, elastic contact then there is likely a painful physical issue of some kind (from ill fitting tack, sore muscles or joints, etc). Draw reins do not address the causes of contact issues; they only mask the symptoms and teach the horse to work in a “desirable frame” in spite of the underlying issues.

    Achieving a soft, light elastic contact through the appropriate use of the basics is an art in and of itself but it is not out of reach of the average rider.
    Last edited by Tonja; Jun. 13, 2006 at 02:54 AM.



  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonja
    Draw reins do not address the causes of contact issues; they only mask the symptoms and teach the horse to work in a “desirable frame” in spite of the underlying issues.


    Yup! Thank you Tonja!

    I knew we had some people on this board who understand dressage enough to know why draw reins don't really work.



  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beasmom
    Here is a link to an article by Karl Mikolka, former Chief Rider from the SRS.

    I believe Karl Mikolka has been quoted to say "those who would be able to use draw reins correctly don't need them". What does that mean to you?



  4. #64
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    lstevenson,
    If I had a euro for every person to whom that quote has been attributed, I wouldn't be negotiating with my husband about the mare I want to buy in Europe. She'd be paid for already

    Here is what Mikolka really said about draw reins
    http://www.angelfire.com/sports/dres...ages/Karl.html


    A Few thoughts about draw reins

    Before we venture into a detailed discussion about the benefits or disadvantages of draw reins, let's explore the question: Why draw reins at all?
    To establish a generality, draw reins should only be used as a backup rather than a replacement for the gymnastic training necessary for achieving suppleness, submissiveness, balance and throughness. Since these milestones of proper training are best accomplished by selecting the right combination of ring figures, forward riding, bending in motion, engaging, half halting and countless transitions in proper balance, one should never hope to achieve the same solely through the use of draw reins.

    The subject of draw reins and their value in the training of the horse has been dividing the equestrian world for centuries. Certain Masters of the past regarded draw reins as a useful means in achieving the highest level of 'throughness', while others opposed their use entirely, even on difficult horses.

    In recent times the question of draw reins is often defended by professionals as being helpful in cutting down considerably the training time and getting difficult horses quicker on the bit and up through the levels. It has been proven that draw reins in sensitive hands are effective tools when smartly used as a support rather than applied as a forceful gadget for pressing the horse's head into a certain form.

    Experts in theory - as they are wont to call themselves - and Puritans who defend the orthodox approach toward training often disagree in the use of draw reins, no matter what the excuse. They are quick to quote the late Col. Podhaisky who was heard saying on more than one account: "In the wrong hands, draw reins are as dangerous as razorblades in the hand of a monkey" A potentially insulting maxim in itself, considering all the animal rights groups nowadays who might immediately protest such an insinuation.

    Some Facts About Draw Reins

    As with all things in human life, there is a good side and a bad side when it comes to managing draw reins. After all, it is not the draw rein which does the damage or the fixing, it is the person behind the draw rein, the rider himself. Considering the imperfection of human nature it is easy to understand how controversial an issue such as the dispute over draw reins can become and how quickly those who see merit in using them are, at the same time, immediately regarded as incompetent in their application.

    It is almost like saying:" If you merely think of working with draw reins you are automatically admitting that you know nothing about their manipulation." A somewhat over simplification of the situation.

    The Truth About Draw Reins

    The mere term draw rein brings to mind of the sensitive soul a device which uses force as a means to an end. Like a draw bridge lifted by force, force is used to pull a horse's head down. Granted this can easily happen, especially when inexperience dominates. The philosophy of the Old School stressed first and foremost 'throughness' rather than insisting on a certain head set. How the horse placed its head was secondary to throughness, although the degree of throughness affected the horse's head carriage. 'Throughness 'or Durchlässigkeit is a condition which includes and afects the entire body and being of the horse, not only a small part of it. All too often the term 'on-the-bit' is attributed to a certain head set - roughly two fingers in front of the vertical - while in reality 'on-the-bit' mainly describes the condition of a completely relaxed horse accepting the rider's aids without arguments. In the Old School, 'on-the-bit' was the result of throughoess and throughness was the product of the highest level of suppleness, submissiveness, balance and relaxation. No draw reins, even those made of gold, can replace the work toward throughness, although sometimes they can be quite helpful in achieving it.

    As I mentioned before, one of the great dangers of riding with draw reins lies in the false assumption they can replace suppleness, balance and submissiveness, providing a short cut of some sort. Unfortunately, they can not. One can never compensate for the lack of throughness by solely relying on draw reins. Modern day horsemen unfortunately tend to do just that and create horses which carry their heads far too low and too close to their chests. This is highly detrimental for establishing true throughness, a stage where the horse offers no resistance either from the front to the rear or from the rear to the front. The rider's signals are accepted without delay or blockage. The horse becomes an extension of its rider. Whenever a draw rein is used to coerce an improper headset, its merit is lost and its application academically wrong.

    Any one part of the horse which is singled out and worked without paying attention to the whole of the body will at best lead to a pitiful caricature of an animal exposed to human ignorance but never to an art form. That's the main reason why all the anti-draw rein supporters warn against the utilization of draw reins. And in this respect they are absolutely right.

    What About Using Draw Reins Correctly?

    That, according to the Old Masters requires some level of experience. Under Podhajsky, any manipulation of draw reins was limited to the Chief Rider and Podhajsky himself. Various historical treatises on the subject suggest that draw reins should only act as a certain boundary on a horse's head carriage. They advise using the draw rein as an auxiliary rein only when the horse is about to overstep this boundary line, while the rest of the time the draw reins should remain slack. I personally do not agree with this recommendation simply because experience tells us that it is rather difficult, if not impossible to apply a smooth, non-offending rein aid quickly and precisely with a rein not in continual elastic contact with the horse's mouth.

    Before riding with draw reins, it will be indispensable for the rider to have developed a steady, independent seat, the base for a relaxed and sensitive hand. The effectiveness of the draw reins depends entirely on that good hand. The good hand has several qualifications which must be practiced off the horse as well as on the horse to the degree that they become second nature. In developing such a hand, the rider would do well to keep the following points in mind:
    The thumb is the only part of the fist which exerts a strong pressure on the rein which rests on the second joint of the index finger. The middle finger ring finger and pinky are turned towards the palm of the hand in such a way that there is a little room left between the finger tips and the palm of the hand. Some people refer to this fist as 'bird fist', firm enough to prevent a bird from escaping but soft enough not to crush him. The wrists as well as the muscles along the lower arm must remain completely relaxed without allowing the thumbs to weaken their pressure, resulting in losing control over the reins.

    To keep the wrists relaxed, the thumbs firm but the lower arm muscles free of tension and stiffness is at first difficult. I advise practicing these procedures while sitting in front of the TV or while taking a bath. The feeling of a correctly working hand has to be secured first off the horse, then reestablished on the horse.

    It is all too tempting to tighten up the wrong parts of the hand such as wrists, fists, arm and shoulder muscles, especially when the horse starts moving. It is furthermore easy to forget to keep the thumb firm and the rest of the hand light and sensitive. Developing this good hand before working with draw reins will make the difference and can not be emphasized enough.

    Variations On a Theme

    There are numerous opinions on how the draw reins themselves should be adjusted. Some riders prefer attaching draw reins to the bottom of the girth and run them between the horse's front legs, over the horse's chest to the snaffle rings. This method can bring about good results temporarily. In the long run though, it entices the horse to lower its head too much and to drop its neck too low thus creating an image of an animal getting ready to perform a head stand. When confirmed, it will hinder the rider from using the natural leverage of the neck, head and shoulders, which otherwise would provide a means of shifting more weight occasionally towards the hind legs in preparation for good collection.

    Other riders prefer to adjust the draw reins like side reins: through the left or the right side of the girth and through the snaffle rings from the inside out. This arrangement is the most common one. The rider holds two reins in his hands, the reins of the snaffle, divided through ring and little finger, the draw rein around the little finger; through the fist to the index finger where the thumbs hold both reins firm. A number of riders choose to divide the draw rein by the ring and middle finger. How the reins are held is not as important as how the rider's hands function. My extensive clinic travels reveal that most riders do not pay attention to or are even aware of their hands and stiff wrists. This phenomenon combined with weak thumbs, tight fists, rigid arm and shoulder muscles with elbows sticking out are quite wide spread.

    Based upon my education it is my belief, that using draw reins on the same bit which holds the snaffle reins has only limited possibilities. Two pair of reins working the same bit? How can we expect the horse to understand the different meanings of snaffle versus draw rein? In my experience, which is also backed by the thinking of the Old Masters (see Seeger), it is much more beneficial if the rider works the horse Auf Doppeltrense with a double snaffle whenever draw reins must be used. For that purpose, a somewhat thinner snaffle, similar to the one used in conjunction with a curb bit is a good choice. This second snaffle is attached to a separate cheek-strap and is put on the horse first, while the normal - or 'true'snaffle is placed over it. The first or thinner snaffle is therefore closer to the rider, the 'true'snaffle a little further away. The draw reins are attached to the right and left hand side of the girth and run from the inside out, through the rings of the thinner, or second snaffle. Each hand holds two reins, the snaffle rein and the draw rein. With this set up the rider has a multitude of combinations available when 'playing' the true bit against the draw rein bit. It also has the added benefit of exposing the horse to carrying two bits in anticipation of the curb and snaffle work later.

    Preparing the horse with the true snaffle and following through with the draw reins is the hallmark of this type of work. For example: the true snaffle is responsible for keeping the horse's neck and jaw soft and relaxed (lateral flexion) while at the same time the second snaffle, attached to the draw reins, is accountable for keeping the poll of the horse supple (longitudinal flexion). As long as the poll of the horse is allowed to remain stiff - an all too common occurrence - no horse can be consistently on the bit. Relaxing the poll area is mandatory for accepting the double bridle later. For that reason, the most important by- product of all work with draw reins, no matter how they are attached, must be the relaxation of the poll area. The success of draw rein work depends greatly on:
    • The quality of the rider's seat
    • The quality of the rider's hands
    • The ability of the rider to support each rein aid with well timed leg and seat aids.
    The legs support the 'true' snaffle in its task of keeping the neck and the jaw flexible, while the seat (weight of the rider) more supports the draw reins in keeping the poll of the horse supple. Always remember: a soft poll is the key to successful double bridle training.

    Horses With Special Needs

    Over the years I have had the opportunity to ride a wide variety of horses, horses of different breeds and horses with different problems. I discovered that horses with parrot mouth for instance, respond better to draw reins when they are attached to the girth under the belly and run between the front legs through a strap which connects the right and the left snaffle ring, almost acting like a very lose chin strap, to the rider's hands. This method can also be used with one snaffie bit when working a neck which is rather short and muscular and with a double snaffle when confronted with a neck resembling a swan.

    Such a set up protects the delicate parrot mouth from all too strong pressures, guarantees quick relaxation of the poll and encourages the acceptance of the bit with confidence and trust. Working in that order, it becomes clear that the snaffle reins are free to influence and improve the relaxation of the neck muscles while the draw reins, almost acting as a running martingale, influence the flexing of the poll.

    Other variations include: riding with only one draw rein. There are numerous horses which feel entrapped and claustrophobic when ridden with two draw reins. Their tenseness increases sharply due to feeling uncomfortable. So WHY- I ask- insist on two draw reins when they only make matters worse? Col. Podhajsky always stressed the need to develop into a 'thinking rider' That includes the one who never chooses a procedure which makes the horse unhappy or uncomfortable - (not to be confused with challenging the thinking of a horse).

    The single draw rein can be attached either to the left or the right side of the girth. From there it runs into the same snaffle ring on which the bridle reins are hooked. From the left side it is passed through the left snaffle ring and when attached to the right side of the girth, it passes through the right snaffle ring. Here I would like to point out that only one snaffle is used when working the horse with one draw rein. The draw rein supports either the right or the left snaffle rein, both acting on the same mouthpiece. The rider works with two reins in one hand and one rein in the other - that which carries the crop. Working with two reins in one hand and only one rein in the other offers an excellent opportunity for the rider to experience the important- but often forgotten - counter-function of the outside rein. The two reins in one hand should never overpower the single rein, be it on the outside or the inside of the work direction.

    If the horse has a pronounced stiff side, it is then advisable to put the draw rein on the softer side first. The horse needs a few days to get acquainted with this 'rigging.' Like water which follows the path of the least resistance, the rider should do the same. As soon as the horse is confident with this set up then the draw rein can be used on the stiffer side where it will be of great usefulness.

    A few horses which develop the habit of falling on a shoulder every time they are asked to flex, benefit from a diagonal adjustment of the single draw rein. For example, a horse which drops or falls on its left shoulder every time it is required to bend right will be assisted in maintaining a better balance when the single draw rein is attached from the left side of the girth, underneath the neck, diagonally into the right snaffle ring. The draw rein when used for bending guards the diagonal shoulder at the same time. A draw rein used in that manner can also be quite helpful in preventing the horse from falling on his outside shoulder; as often occurs in the early stages of shoulder-in training.

    The most challenging combination in addition to all previously mentioned is that of a cavesson and draw reins, a chapter; which goes beyond the scope of this study. This type of work requires a great amount of experience and is definitely not recommended for the average rider. Ignorance and inexperience invite accidents. Moreover; the horse must have developed a very high level of submissiveness before it can be expected to accept the cavesson without potential harm to its rider or itself. The cavesson-draw rein technique was preferred by the Old Masters who, granted,had much more time than we do to meet the needs of their horses. Times may change, but horses do not, and this combination still remains the best preparation for the work on the double bridle.

    © Karl Mikolka 1998
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.



  5. #65
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    Thumbs up

    nice one NHWR! wonder what the 'purists' are going to say now...!



  6. #66
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    Sounds like a grey issue, rather than a black and white one.



  7. #67
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    Wink

    Good riding and training is VERY GREY!! if it was black or white - every Joe Blow would get it, but since it's much more refined and complicated and takes umpteen years to really learn....only one in maybe 500 really gets it...and then there are other issues that can get in the way...that's why there are soooo few that REALLY get it, are nice to be around and keep on achieving....that's why there is quite a bit of restless despair, wondering and questioning and NOT really knowing out there...!



  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sabine
    that's why there are soooo few that REALLY get it,


    Boy, that's the truth.



  9. #69
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    "Under Podhajsky, any manipulation of draw reins was limited to the Chief Rider and Podhajsky himself. "

    Well, that says a lot right there.



  10. #70
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    i am confused. you are using mr milkolka as proof that draw reins are correct. but what do you make of the out takes below? will you believe this as proof that riding deep, btv and etc as incorrect? and if not , why is ok to use his words to defend draw reins but then not believe what he wrote about riding btv??? (in other words, is it okay to pick and choose what you believe from someone as knowledgeable as mr milkolka?)

    "One can never compensate for the lack of throughness by solely relying on draw reins. Modern day horsemen unfortunately tend to do just that and create horses which carry their heads far too low and too close to their chests. This is highly detrimental for establishing true throughness, a stage where the horse offers no resistance either from the front to the rear or from the rear to the front. The rider's signals are accepted without delay or blockage. The horse becomes an extension of its rider. "



  11. #71
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    One can never compensate for the lack of throughness by solely relying on draw reins. Modern day horsemen unfortunately tend to do just that and create horses which carry their heads far too low and too close to their chests. This is highly detrimental for establishing true throughness...
    will you believe this as proof that riding deep, btv and etc as incorrect? and if not , why is ok to use his words to defend draw reins but then not believe what he wrote about riding btv???
    No, because 1)that isn't what he says. The comment you refer to is saying it is detrimental to rely soley on draw reins (which I agree with), not that it is bad to occasionally put the horse btv. 2) There other experts whose opinions I respect (like von Ziegner) who say that riding a horse btv can have some benefit, if the rider is skilled and the horse is truly through. 3) I have had a different experience which, coincidently, was rehabbing a horse on whom draw reins had been used improperly. The net result of the rehab was a horse that no longer carried her head too low and too close to her chest because she had developed real "throughness".
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.



  12. #72
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    I think what is desired, as opposed to the horse 'giving' to the pressure of the rein, is a sense of the horse filling in the rein and moving into it.

    Honestly, I've used draw reins on a horse that had a terrible time motivating his hq (for soundness, for mental reasons, etc.), and they were like a balancing rod for him. It really helped him for a couple of weeks. Haven't used them since, in about 2+ years. Still has his periodic unsoundness, but when he's sound, he's fully, strongly connected over the back (until he gets tired--it's always been hard work for his naturally weak lower back).



  13. #73
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    I think what is desired, as opposed to the horse 'giving' to the pressure of the rein, is a sense of the horse filling in the rein and moving into it.
    If a horse does this without any "give" or response to an aid, the horse is hanging on the reins.
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.



  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhwr
    If a horse does this without any "give" or response to an aid, the horse is hanging on the reins.

    I think I'm seeing a pattern here, nhwr. Pro rk, pro draw reins, pro horsey put his head in pretty position? Because when you teach a horse to give to the rein, that's what you are doing.


    Cyberbay's quote was right on:

    "I think what is desired, as opposed to the horse 'giving' to the pressure of the rein, is a sense of the horse filling in the rein and moving into it"



  15. #75
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    I think I am seeing a pattern here too, lstevenson. You don't know how to read very well, you assume a lot and make may assertions that are not born out by the facts

    I never said I was pro rolkur or pro draw rein. In fact, about draw reins I have said on this thread that I don't like to use them. However I acknowledge that there are people who can use them beneficially.

    Please don't let being wrong (again) stop you, though

    TwoSimple,
    Podhajsky was the head of the SRS. Mikolka was a student there for more than a dozen years.
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.



  16. #76
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    Draw reins = abortion?

    Can you please explain this from a medical perspective?



  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhwr
    I think I am seeing a pattern here too, lstevenson. You don't know how to read very well, you assume a lot and make may assertions that are not born out by the facts

    I never said I was pro rolkur or pro draw rein. In fact, about draw reins I have said on this thread that I don't like to use them. However I acknowledge that there are people who can use them beneficially.

    I read just fine, thank you very much. When I am reading things written by people who have common sense and a fair amount of intelligence, that is.

    You say you are not pro rk or draw reins.... Hmm...... Yet you continue to argue for their use. You must think draw reins and rk have a good, purposefull use, otherwise why would you argue for them. It sounds like you don't know your a@@ from a hole in the ground.

    The pieces of the puzzle actually fit quite nicely. If you believe that a horse should "give" to the bit, of course you would argue for the use of draw reins and rk. You may say that you don't, but your actions say you do.



  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Two Simple
    But that doesn't matter. If the head of Ford Motor company murders somebody, is that the same as saying that murder is commonly practiced and endorced at Ford Motor Company?

    Very good point Two Simple.



  19. #79
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    Absolutely, I would love to! The mare was worked for 30 minutes with no warmup, in draw reins because she was evading the bit and refusing to come "on the bit." She was worked at the trot and canter and was so mentally and physically stressed, that she ended up aborting her fetus and prolapsing her uterus.
    I think that is the most ridiculous thing I've read yet in these RK and drawn rein threads. Where does one even start to address the absurdity of that comment???



  20. #80
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    You say you are not pro rk or draw reins.... Hmm...... Yet you continue to argue for their use. You must think draw reins and rk have a good, purposefull (sic) use, otherwise why would you argue for them.
    Well since you assert your reading comprehension skills are up to par, perhaps you could reference where I argue for their use. The idea I do support is rational assessment of concepts as opposed to ignorant hysteria. I think the real problem for you. lstevenson, is that you don't like being shown for the dressage "expert" that you are

    But that doesn't matter. If the head of Ford Motor company murders somebody, is that the same as saying that murder is commonly practiced and endorced (sic) at Ford Motor Company?
    What???? Who said they were commonly used and endorsed by the SRS?

    I am just curious since some people here are vehemently defending the idea that draw reins are common training tool of the SRS.
    Who is vehemently defending this and where are they doing it???

    I think that is the most ridiculous thing I've read yet in these RK and drawn rein threads. Where does one even start to address the absurdity of that comment???


    I think lstevenson and TwoSimple have spent more time involved in a different sport. Their input sounds more like "fish tales" than anything else. Facts don't need embellishment or exaggeration. Intelligent discussion doesn't need to come down to their level. But when you don't have much to work with, I guess you gotta go with that
    Last edited by nhwr; Jun. 14, 2006 at 11:16 AM.
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.



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