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Side Reins (As part of my horses training routine)

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  • Side Reins (As part of my horses training routine)

    Ive recently began using side reins with my one of my show hunters, to help him become accustomed to having preassure put on the bit, then being rewarded when flexed. Because all he has ever had was the "bumping" that hunter riders are famous for.

    I used them the other day, at a longer setting, and he came to the bit right away, and was foaming at the mouth like no it was no bodys buisness, which ive never seen him do to that extent. Then the next day when I rode him he came right to me when I asked him to be on the bit.

    My question is, is how may times a week can I use the side reins as part of my horses training routine. I wasnt planning on using them more then twice a week. And my current routine, which he seemes to like is (side reigns on: Monday and Thursday, Driving: Tuesday and Friday and Riding: Wednesday and Sunday). What do you think is this too much, what could I change about it, or is it fine? Let me know?

  • #2
    Well it's hard to say as it depends on what the goal is. Since the horse is a hunter, isn't the idea to have the horse perform on a loose or very light rein, with a long, sweeping, relaxed stride, kind of on 'autopilot' without a lot of obvious activity with the hands on the reins, and a pleasant posture of the head and neck, nose not too poked out or curled intward toward the chest, without pushing the head up too high or 'rooting' or trying to pull the reins out of the hands?

    If so, it isn't exactly the same as being 'on the bit' in the dressage sense, it's more of a 'stabilizing' or habituating the horse in a nice looking posture that is desirable in the hunter ring. If that's the case perhaps a brief warmup in side reins before each ride is going to produce the desired look.


    • #3
      Side reins should be part of your longeing routine whatever the discipline. It is counter-productive to longe without them.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


      • #4
        I have always been taught that side reins have absolutely NO PLACE on a horse under saddle. The reason is not a philosophical one but rather a simple safety reason. Unlike draw reins {which I hate} one cannot quickly undo side reins in a moment of panic. The horse needs to use his neck for balance during these times. I have seen horses go over backward with the rider because a car backfired, or a dog ran into the ring, etc. Even the calmest horse can have "a moment". You should also keep the side reins unattached when even walking the horse to the lunging pen. This info is backed up by the USDF guidelines for certification. Like I said, I'm not here to judge the use of mechanics to achieve one's goal, that's for other threads, but for safety's sake...PLEASE PLEASE rethink the use of side reins under saddle.


        • #5
          she says she's driving the horse in side reins (she may mean longeing or double longeing or ground driving, it sounds like some form of ground work anyway) and riding him the other days. I didn't think she at any point said she was riding the horse in sidereins. It isn't terribly safe to do so but a lot of people do it, I've seen people put them on lesson horses that would otherwise pull the rider out of the saddle and things like that. I've seen them tied on with light twine so if anything goes wrong they will break loose.

          Loose side reins while leading can be extremely dangerous, though I think I've seen more horses step on a longe line hanging down rather than side reins, and stepping on the longe line about guarantees some pretty exciting action and a broken bridle, at the very least.

          Most side reins have a loop that if the horse was led with the side reins not hooked up and horse got his foot in it that could be even worse than riding with them attached, if only because the handler is going to get nailed from the ground, which is often worse than falling off.

          I think the best thing is to put the side reins on just before starting to longe the horse. If I do put them on a horse and then lead him, I wind up snapping them to the saddle so they don't flop down.


          • #6
            she says she's driving the horse in side reins
            Where does she say that?

            I'm assuming she is lungeing the horse in sidereins and I agree with merrygoround on that. Lungeing without side reins is not very productive and, yes, sometimes is even counterproductive.

            Slc, come on, you can't deny that on various boards in the past you always berated people for lungeing/longeing horses in sidereins. I see you have changed your tune. What else is new. Rollyeye thingy.


            • #7
              Maybe I got it wrong, wouldn't be the first time. But Noone can convince me that it is EVER appropiate to actually be undersaddle in side reins. It is not condoned by ANY certified school simply for the safety reasons I stated previously. I don;t care how loose they are. If they are loose enough not to be dangerous, than why are they there in the first place? Never put anything on your horse that you can't release at a seconds notice. THAT was my point!I won't tell people how to train a horse. but I DO KNOW what is safe anf what isn't


              • #8
                "my current routine, which he seemes to like is (side reigns on: Monday and Thursday, Driving: Tuesday and Friday and Riding: Wednesday and Sunday)."

                She says she has side reins on monday and thursday, driving tuesday and friday, ,riding, wednesday and sunday. i'm not sure if she means ground driving or putting the horse in harness and driving it to a cart. she specifically says she does not have side reins on(mon, thur) the same days she rides (wed, sun).

                oldschool, I never said I condoned or encouraged it, I said a lot of people do it. That's an observation, not a recommendation. for some reason people often assume a lot more than what the person writes. i said one sees a lot of it, that's all i said.

                As for being for or not for side reins, ego, I have the same opinion I always had - that incorrect use of side reins causes problems and that there is a lot of incorrect use.

                especially if longeing incorrectly, side reins add to the torque on the legs.

                too, there's a point beyond which so much longeing is just way too much repetitive motion, esp with large, growthy youngsters, horses with arthritis, etc.

                There are plenty of people who use longeing to great benefit. They know how to do it and not over use it. They also usually tend to use side reins correctly and the training benefits.

                Longeing itself puts a lot of strain on legs and only helps training if done properly in the right situations, not to get a headset, not to wear the horse down. I think side reins are very often a crutch and their use adds to the problem rather than helps.
                Last edited by slc2; Apr. 27, 2008, 11:00 AM.


                • #9
                  mmm interpretation.... I took it to read that she is going to use side reins twice a week while lunging - NOT while riding or driving and was that an ok thing to do?
                  I wasnt planning on using them more then twice a week. And my current routine, which he seemes to like is (side reigns on: Monday and Thursday, Driving: Tuesday and Friday and Riding: Wednesday and Sunday).


                  • #10
                    if she is riding 2 days, driving two days and longeing two days, maybe the horse is a versatility horse and does some hunt seat?


                    • #11
                      The point of s.r. is that the horse works into contact, not that they give to it. That is why they are more appropriate in trot, but often too limiting in w or c. That said, why not use them for warm up each day? Perfectly ok.

                      As far as riding in them, many riding schools in europe routinely lunge riders with them on the horse(s), and the also allow riders to ride in them (albeit they are only there as a limiting influence if the riders do not sustain a proper length of rein/degree of balance etc). But they are very experience schoolmasters as well.
                      I.D.E.A. yoda


                      • Original Poster

                        Side Reins as part of training #2


                        Thank you to all of you replys on my first post about using side reins. BTW, I only lunge in side reins and when I said I drive, I mean in driving lines. Oh, and also i am a guy, SUPRISE, there is actually a guy on the fourm! Anyway, I had another question to ask?

                        Is it ok to lunge your horse in side reigns in the bit that he shows in, he shows in a broken segunda, or should I only lunge in a snaffel type bit? I have the snaffel bit, with the bean mouth piece in the middle that he likes that I can use, because I cannot use a normal snaffel because he hates the nutcracker effect of the bit and becomes very tense.

                        So which one do you think is ok to do? Oh and BTW, I never really got the question that I wanted answered on the other post answered, guess i didnt make it clear enough. Is it ok for me to use the side reins everyday and also as a warm up before i ride and ditch the driving in lines all together, or should i leave the driving in the routine?


                        • #13
                          I will have to look, but I do not believe a horse can show in a broken segunda.

                          Lungeing can only be in legal bits with side reins/lungeline and caveson.

                          Driving aids with lateral flexability (ie figure eights/etc), use lungeing or driving theraputically...what does the horse need?
                          I.D.E.A. yoda


                          • #14
                            It sounds like you already have an idea of what you think works.

                            What most dressage people do is either longe in side reins (not tight enough to hold the head in too much) and then remove the side reins and get on. So most dressage people don't change bridles or bits when they do this, and even when they longe only, they don't usually use a different bit than what they normally ride in.

                            I can't really offer an opinion on the segunda as i don't like that kind of mouthpiece for dressage (it isn't one you see a lot of dressage people using). Snaffles can be gotten that have a little piece in the middle, so there is no annoying nutcracker effect, but even a 2 piece snaffle shouldn't bother the horse if it's fitted right as if it's fitted right it doesn't hit the roof of the mouth.

                            I try to keep things really simple and use a plain snaffle bit (usually one with 3 pieces as described above) with a flash or plain caveson if nereded, and depending on the horse i might or might not use side reins.

                            But just about everyone has a different idea about what sort of equipment to use. You do find a sort of 'mainstream' in dressage, and since in competition they only allow certain bits and most people tend to generally use the bits used in competition though there are exceptions of course, but dressage has a fairly strong tradition of using a very small number of kinds of bits. the bits are listed on usef.org under rules/dressage.


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks for your advice everyone, I dont actually show dressage, and I show hunters instead. Ive been trying to find ways to mesh the hunter and the dressage world togther to do the side reigns and driving.

                              I know somebody said that the driving helps in lateral flexation, but what exactly do the side reigns do, except getting the horse used to accepting the bit, do they as well aid in flexation or anything like that?



                              • Original Poster

                                This is in response to, Ideayoda. BTW, the horse tends to get stiff on on the right side of his body and he is very loose on his left side. His right side has always been his "bad" side though. The side reigns have been looking like they are aiding in getting him loose on his stiff side. Is this something that they should be doing, or is he just getting looser on his own.


                                • #17
                                  Why would a horse go well on the longe with a double jointed snaffle-similar to a french mouth but with a slightly differnt shaped center piece-yet not do well when you are riding him. Perhaps you need a little help with your hands.
                                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                  • #18
                                    I have a question about sidereins too. Why does the usdf certification program advocate the use of side reins for lunging with or without a rider while at the same time absolutely prohibit their use while riding free of the lunge?


                                    • #19
                                      because when the horse is not on the longe line, the longeur cannot stop the horse if something were to go awry.


                                      • #20
                                        Thank you slc, I guess that makes sense. I just didn't know the reasoning there. I was too afraid to ask at the certification clinic I audited because the directors were very intimidating and dismissive.