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When is it okay to use draw reins?

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  • When is it okay to use draw reins?

    For fear of being covered with rotten tomatoes, I'm asking the question in the title. I have a big, coming 6 warmblood, who has learned how to work over his back, into contact, at the walk, trot, and is getting more consistent at the canter work. He's become quite strong, which is a blessing and a curse, and I am tiny! I'm finding that when he tests, I'm spending more time putting him back into the bridle over and over and sacrificing going forward. I know that this is a training stage, but I wonder whether this is an instance where it would be "okay" to use draw reins, so that he learns to stay more consistent in the contact, and I can use the time to keep working him forward?

    I know that draw reins are a dirty word in many circles, and I've never used anything since I started him but a KK loose-ring snaffle on this boy, and no device other than elastic side reins on the lunge line. I do know how to use draw reins, and have soft hands. I'm hoping for a little help with this training hump--(no one ever told me that the "going forward into contact" training phase would ever be this miserable )--if it wouldn't sacrifice his long-term training. Any other suggestions are most helpful. Please keep in mind, he's over 17h, generally well behaved, very strong, and I weigh about 110 lbs on a good day. I just keep thinking there's a physics problem involved

  • #2
    If you knew how to use draw reins properly (and I mean understanding how it works, why it works and for what situation it can work), you wouldn't be asking this question.

    Ask your trainer.
    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

    Originally posted by LauraKY
    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
    HORSING mobile training app

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    • #3
      I think that draw reins are used in the hunter world alot. (IME) My assorted hunter trainers many years ago used them on my difficult (or so they thought) TB rather than putting the time into getting him balanced and going forward... and it never accomplished anything. I finally found a dressage trainer who rode him correctly and changed my life (and his!) Once he went correctly into the bridle it was a beautiful thing- I could literally WT & C him around bareback when I could barely ride him at all before. That was a long time ago- that horse is long since gone. That said, my current trainer weighs 100 lbs soaking wet and has never used draw reins. She's started two horses for me and has ridden countless big, difficult warmbloods. Weight has nothing to do with it. Correct training is forward training, not tying the head down. Just my humble opinion of course. I'll be interested in the responses you'll get though...

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Ahhh, yes, tomato number 1!

        I've had a hunter trainer tell me he needs to live in draw reins (I ride him at a hunter/jumper barn, and am amazed by some of the gadgets I see some of those horses ridden in!), and will ask the dressage trainer who has been helping me bring him along. As I said, I've never used them on him, never anything more than side reins on the lunge line, and don't even know if they would be appropriate for this stage of training and the horse/rider combo.

        I might be too influenced by some of the h/j trends I see on a daily basis, and perhaps a simple, "No, just keep doing what you're doing, and you'll work through it the same way you have all your other training phases," is all I need to hear to counterbalance what I see all around me.

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        • #5
          Meh. I used them on my horse a little last summer and fall. I rode with them pretty loose, but they helped us BOTH, a lot. I could half halt and he figured out to GIVE to the half halt instead of brace. I also was reminded to be VERY soft with my hands...and I had good hands to begin with. I didn't want to rely on the draw reins, so I was constantly giving, giving, giving. I think they helped a lot.
          Amanda

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            I'm not talking tying his head down--rather using them loosely as an aid to help keep the contact consistent. Maybe the forward is all it takes? Right now, it seems like he can't do both, only one or the other.

            About 5 years ago, I was a working student for a British Grand Prix dressage trainer who used Vienna reins on horses at this level of training. Is that a less dirty word than draw reins?

            Thank you, springer, your trainer is my inspiration!

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            • #7
              Sorry, I don't wanted to throw a tomato at you!

              I do use draw reins, in specific situations. Ask your trainer, s/he'll know best.
              ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

              Originally posted by LauraKY
              I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
              HORSING mobile training app

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks, alibi!

                I'll definitely talk to my trainer about what she thinks. My trainer travels to me every couple of weeks, and the next time I'll see her is on Monday. I'm the only one bringing along a young horse in dressage in a hunter/jumper barn, so while just about everyone else who rides and trains at my barn would say, "hell, yeah, use 'em!" I am very very conservative in my training approach in comparison.

                When do you use them?

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                • #9
                  When having something along my horse's neck keeps her from spinning when she spooks? They can have a loop in them, but with them on the worst thing she does is stop suddenly. And I don't think side reins should be ridden in. When I'm riding in a spooky situation (generally crowded arena or horses she doesn't know) I put them on and I think everyone is safer. I'm still not sure if I'll ever manage a warmup ring. Good thing I'm too broke to show lol!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When you know how to use them properly.

                    Paula
                    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I suspect my trainer would advise "more forward". She's not one to worry about steady contact until we have FORWARD. Headset isn't something you need to worry about - get everything working from behind and the contact will get there. At some point you and horsie need to come to an agreement.

                      The uses of draw reins I've seen that I sorta kinda agree with are when the horse has a rearing and/or head up bolting issue. If the rider is terrified, then, by all means have a loosely adjusted draw rein there for emergencies.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have used a German martingale as a second set of reins. I ride my horse mostly on a plain snaffle but I use the German martingale when I need it, so it is adjusted a bit slack. I hold the 2 sets of reins as I would with a double bridle with the plain snaffle on top and the draw rein on the bottom. Both reins are attached to the plain snaffle bit ring, again with the normal rein on top and the draw rein on the bottom.
                        I always make sure the draw rein is slack(not flopping loosely) and not acting on my horse when riding unless I have a specific reason for using it.
                        I have found it most useful for bolt control on youngsters( it has saved my back a lot of wrenching) but it may serve your purpose as well.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes, there can be a couple of days for there use. But they are for calculated measure/lateral flexibility (not for longitudinal flexion which in the end will create problems). The question is why the horse is getting stronger, why are hh not working completely, is he too low/closed, etc? (If it is for 'bolt control' a properly adjusted running martingale is a better idea.)
                          I.D.E.A. yoda

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                          • #14
                            I am "gasp" using draw reins that have elastic built into them on my new to me youngster (5 going on 6).my european coach wants me to ride in side reins,but i just can't do it.The draw reins are attached on the side,like side reins,and help with lateral stability.After 10 or 15 minutes i am only using the regular reins so am not dependant on the draw reins,plus i have ridden for more than 40 years.They will not be on him for long,just to make sure forward and straight are the only way to go.
                            mm

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I know a trainer who had students ride with draw reins to teach them to turn the horse using their seats. They would tie up the snaffle reins and use only the draw reins, and it sure did seem to help them learn to not rely on the reins for turning!

                              Another trainer used them if the rider did not have the core strength to keep the horse from getting strung out. Some of these riders got pretty good at riding on the snaffle rein, with a very soft and relaxed draw rein that was just there as a reminder, but others became somewhat dependent on them and could not get/keep the horse on the bit and round without draw reins.

                              I also know a trainer (a USDF Gold Medalist) who rode EVERYTHING in either a double bridle or draw reins, and had her students do the same. Funny thing was that every time they had a clinic or high profile visitors there, she would gather up all the draw reins and hide them so they were out of sight. Many of the horses in this program became quite dependent on the draw reins (learned to lean on them), and they had to be retrained when they left that program.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Debbie McDonald is smaller them most and rode big horses. I know she advocates a lot of shoulder fore work. Might want to check her out. Core strength will be key as well as developing a better HH.
                                I bought a 15h horse since I ride them much better and feel safer then the 17h horses. they are just too big for me.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  My trainer, who brought along and showed her horse to the Regional I-1 championship, does not have draw reins in the barn. I've been with her for almost 10 years and have never ever seen a set of draw reins on any of the 30 horses in the barn, or any of the ones that haul in, either. So while it might be "okay" for a very experienced rider to use them in selected circumstances, I don't think it's ever necessary.

                                  On the other hand, I was at a hunter barn in the area a while ago and saw eight-year-old kids riding their ponies in draw reins. It was, well, let's say it wasn't pretty.
                                  Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I am a H/J person who has used draw reins maybe 2 times in 20 years. That saying, I wonder if trying your guy in a german/olympic (lines that go thru the bit rings and clip onto reins), set very loosely, and see if it helps. I think those devices are good as they are self rewarding, whe the head returns to where it should be the pressure is off, and set loosely might be there enough for backup if he gets silly. I think one ride isn't going to ruin him for dressage and it might give you a sense of a bit more control.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I don't like the idea of draw reins on a young/developing horse. Contact will come - just be patient and work from behind and let him find his balance, and when he is balanced, accept, not TAKE, contact with him by just taking the slack out of the reins. That said, draw reins are a wonderful tool in some instances. I used them on horses that had been ridden badly and had bulging muscles on the bottoms of their necks - I think they needed an extra tool to help them overcome those muscles. I like draw reins as emergency brakes as well - because on some horses, you need a strong moment, but if you use a stronger bit, you can't be as soft when they are soft. But I'd really try not to use them on a young, not ruined horse - I think it's a better tool for overcoming bad training, not the best tool if trying to train a clean slate. Hope your trainer has some good inputs for you.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I don't like the idea of draw reins on a young/developing horse. Contact will come - just be patient and work from behind and let him find his balance, and when he is balanced, accept, not TAKE, contact with him by just taking the slack out of the reins. That said, draw reins are a wonderful tool in some instances. I used them on horses that had been ridden badly and had bulging muscles on the bottoms of their necks - I think they needed an extra tool to help them overcome those muscles. I like draw reins as emergency brakes as well - because on some horses, you need a strong moment, but if you use a stronger bit, you can't be as soft when they are soft. But I'd really try not to use them on a young, not ruined horse - I think it's a better tool for overcoming bad training, not the best tool if trying to train a clean slate. Hope your trainer has some good inputs for you.

                                        Comment

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