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Draw-reins: Are they a "thing" or added for rhetorical flourish?

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  • #41
    Originally posted by Ticker View Post
    Hello, sorry if I confused people.
    I removed the neck part of the German martingale to give me more slack, but I do prefer this to regular draw reins.

    I quoted this response because it seemed the closest to what I attempted to communicate.
    I use both sets of reins as if were riding in a double bridle with the bottom rein being the Germain martingale and set to the appropriate slack level for the size of my horse.

    As a single piece of equipment I think draw reins in general can be too harsh if not used with the utmost care. That said, having the 'option' to use leverage when needed is the positive part of using the German martingale that I liked. So it was a natural step for me to modify how I use it by combining it with equipment...the plain snaffle rein.....that I do want to train with.

    How I use the German martingale as a second rein is not how people normally think of using this piece of equipment as certainly evidenced by some of the responses. However, sharing ideas was my intention.
    Thanks for clarifying! Sorry for being so confused
    Piaffe Girl -- Dressage. Fashionably.
    http://piaffegirl.wordpress.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/PiaffeGirl

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    • #42
      Originally posted by DancingFoalFarms View Post
      Thanks for clarifying! Sorry for being so confused
      Completely my fault...so sorry. Here is a link to a picture that is very close to what I use if you subtract the neck piece. I purchased my GM over 20 years ago so I have noticed that there are some variations to them now.

      http://www.statelinetack.com/item/to...ale/SLT901703/

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      • #43
        Biomechanically speaking, how exactly do draw reins prevent a horse from building a topline?

        Topline muscles are developed from a horse engaging the abdominals and hindquarters and lifting and working over the back.

        Allowing a horse to go around with an upside-down neck should be more likely to prevent the horse working over the back (not that one requires draw reins to work over the back).

        The few times I have used draw reins they in no way prevented the horse from engaging the core and working over the back -- quite the opposite.

        But I can see in the wrong hands all sorts of weirdness can happen.

        I'm going home now to rollkur my horse while there's still daylight.

        Comment


        • #44
          Originally posted by LarkspurCO View Post
          Biomechanically speaking, how exactly do draw reins prevent a horse from building a topline?

          Topline muscles are developed from a horse engaging the abdominals and hindquarters and lifting and working over the back.

          Allowing a horse to go around with an upside-down neck should be more likely to prevent the horse working over the back (not that one requires draw reins to work over the back).

          The few times I have used draw reins they in no way prevented the horse from engaging the core and working over the back -- quite the opposite.

          But I can see in the wrong hands all sorts of weirdness can happen.

          I'm going home now to rollkur my horse while there's still daylight.
          Because more often than not, draw reins are used to get the horse into a pretty 'frame' with the nose tucked in, without the rest of the body being considered. They're great if you want the leverage to pull the nose in... But in and of themselves, they don't do anything for there rest of the body. A horse with its nose cranked in isn't going to be using the muscles over the topline correctly, hence lack of build up of those muscles. Just because they can stop a horse from stargazing, doesn't necessarily mean they correct an upside-down neck - it's still more than possible for those underneck muscles to be active when in draw reins.

          I'm personally not a fan of them. I don't think they teach the rider how to effectively get a horse engaged because they place all the focus on what the head and neck are doing, and I don't think they teach horses how to engage either - for the same reasons. Those that are skilled enough to be able to use draw reins correctly are the people that don't need them anyway as they can train the horse to work properly.

          I know one rider that used draw reins as a matter of necessity a while back... Horse in question is a PSG/Inter 1 horse, very very hot, very, very reactive, and came to her current owner with a bit of a bolting problem if spooked. The DRs were used when she was being brought back into work after doing a tendon. Horse was restricted to walking for the first few weeks, then trot slowly, slowly brought back in. They were there so that if horsey DID get a fright and bolt, she could be stopped before damaging the leg again. Owner knew it was not "right" as such, but the better of two evils.

          A girl I teach has a horse who I would bet my left leg was trained predominantly in draw reins... He will tuck his head in neatly, but there is no true concept of contact with him, he has all the classic DR evasions, and absolutely no adjustability. He's been trained to set his head and walk, trot, canter like that, not to engage the rest of his body. Yuck. Unfortunately for me, the owner's other instructor has insisted that she now ride him in a neck stretcher, so he's just having that lesson reinforced over and over again.

          Comment


          • #45
            Okay, I can see where if the horse's nose is cranked in such that the neck muscles are shortened and rigid that this would prevent the proper use of the back. At the same time I know that many people are quite capable of achieving a bad way of moving without any draw reins. The failure, I would argue, is less about the draw reins and more about not riding the rest of the horse correctly.

            I have no doubt that draw reins are often misused or overused, though I haven't seen them used a lot around here. But I believe a skilled rider can use draw reins and still allow the horse to move correctly over the back, so I don't agree there is a direct correlation to a lack of topline.

            Personally I have no need for them, though I did use them on my mare for a short period as part of a training process that led to the discovery of some physical issues -- long story, but she did move better with the draw reins or with anything that prevented her from pulling and bracing.

            I do know people who use draw reins as an e-brake system but they do NOT stop my gelding. His Seattle Slew genes look for every opportunity to GO, and he can can run hell-for-leather with his nose on his chest (which is why I hack in a double or a pelham).

            As for Edward Gal, I'm sure he abuses all of his horses with the draw reins, which would certainly explain his lack of success.

            Oh, and by the way I should add that it was someone who trained with Gal for many years who advised me that the draw reins were not appropriate for my mare. After riding with her and getting to know her, I have nothing but the highest respect for her mentor.
            Last edited by LarkspurCO; Apr. 13, 2013, 02:09 AM.

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            • #46
              My horse bolts something nasty when on the trails. I ride in draw reins when conditioning. He has so much impulsion from behind when he is excited, that I have never had to actually work harder when using them. I don't have them tight, but he will throw his head and bolt with no care that there is a busy road to his right, so I need a bit more control.

              In the ring, no draw reins. He is soft, supple and round because I have worked on it the correct way not used gadgets. He is super hot and very spooky and people have suggested gadgets or a stronger bit when at home, but I just smile and say he is fine. My trainers (event and dressage) help me to ride what I have even thought it isn't the easiest ride.

              A couple people at the barn I ride at use draw reins. They use it to teach the frame and so many times the horses are not forward and lacking umph from behind. It is take, take, take at the front and nothing from behind. Yeah not attractive.
              I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #47
                Originally posted by FLeventer View Post
                My horse bolts something nasty when on the trails. I ride in draw reins when conditioning. He has so much impulsion from behind when he is excited, that I have never had to actually work harder when using them. I don't have them tight, but he will throw his head and bolt with no care that there is a busy road to his right, so I need a bit more control.
                FWIW, I knew a dressage trainer who would put just one draw rein on a mare that would rear. It really was for safety-- the ability to control the head and neck quickly in a fubar situation. You might be digging a hole for yourself on your bolter by having two draw reins, but I think one would do the "the cops are here, stop bolting now" job you need.

                Sorry for the unsolicited advice. Take what you like and leave the rest.

                For the rest of you, I think this was one of the truly legitimate use of draw reins I have seen. Again, my very old bacon-saving piece of equipment would have been a running martingale. But perhaps the single draw rein would work better for the rearer.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat

                Comment


                • #48
                  Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
                  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.
                  Ditto,
                  My gelding was originally race trained in an overcheck to keep him from cantering. It didn't work so my gelding was never raced. With years of work I had him light and seeking/following contact at halt/walk/trot but at the canter he would still revert lock his back and produce the most horrible lateral canter. Essentially with the overcheck they taught him to canter hollowed every time they worked him.

                  2 rides with loose draw reins used only as a reminder at the canter and he started to see he could canter the same way he went walk/trot. 4 rides with them was all it took for him to decide on his own that this locked back crap was over. Years of avoiding the "quick fix" really just prolonged my geldings struggle. I haven't used them since, they are just a tool in the box.
                  Last edited by BumbleBee; Apr. 13, 2013, 01:32 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    Draw reins can be useful IF used as there were intended (for the reasons they were developed) with is on a caveson and for lateral flexibility (at the atlas-axis). Progressive lateral flexibility (ie 20m circle to 10m to 8 to 6) helps with longitudinal flexibility and engagement. They are pulsed, never held with steady tension.

                    They (or any tack) should NOT be used to create longitudinal flexion (which means they are acting on the bars) as is so often seen.

                    Do many (good) riders use them to speed up the training process, or to allow riders who cannot keep the horse up to the bridle to do exercises (ie d.r. onto curb/etc)? Yes. But the question is what that does in end. The holes are almost always still there.

                    When the horse is too compressed/low by use of d.r. the underneck carries the neck rather the topline when the horse is lifted and arced out to the hand.

                    Hacking out a better option is a correctly fitted running martingale which can protect the rider/horse, and w/o the problems of extra reins/etc if the horse gets loose.
                    I.D.E.A. yoda

                    Comment


                    • #50
                      Question...
                      Biomechanically speaking, how exactly do draw reins prevent a horse from building a topline?
                      And answer...

                      When the horse is too compressed/low by use of d.r. the underneck carries the neck rather the topline when the horse is lifted and arced out to the hand.
                      Draw reins, running martingales, german martingales, etc. mechanically lower the base of the horse's neck.
                      You can have the horse's FACE in the right 'position', but if you engage the leverage on the bit with BOTH reins, biomechanically you get a crammed-lower base of neck. The horse cannot lift his front end by engaging his hindquarters if his neck is being held hostage that way.

                      Comment


                      • #51
                        I've only ever used them while exercising saddleseat horses and never in just draws by themselves. Always a snaffle rein in conjunction with the draws. I always clipped mine to the D's on the front of the saddle, never between the front legs. Made me nervous to have loose loops of rein hanging down by the legs.

                        Oh and on that one horse that would randomly fling its head really far back before going up. That horse broke my nose before I brought them out.

                        Comment


                        • #52
                          All of the ills ascribed to draw reins come from keeping the draw rein tight and active. I used them on that big long horse so that he had to get his head up a fair way beyond where he was working correctly before they came into active use. I needed LESS leg with the draw reins because I needed more leg to get him through the nose up/locked neck/inversion without the draw reins. The draw reins limited his evasion, but didn't prevent it or hold him in a position. They prevented him from going so far that he could ignore the rider's aids. I did actually transition to a running martingale after 3-4 rides with the draw reins.

                          Maybe that's why few people have seen them used properly - because they're only needed for a few rides in a few cases. I think I've used draw reins on one other horse in all the years on all the horses I've ridden. And again it was for 2-3 rides at most. I'm not a draw rein proponent, but I do feel they have a place in the toolbox and can be used without negative results.

                          For the horse I used them on they allowed me to convince him that I could easily block that chosen evasion, and he realized it was just easier to work as I asked (up over his back and into the bridle). He could do the work, but it was work and he'd learned that he could just invert and lock and the rider would have to work even harder to get past that. Allowing that evasion just allowed him to strengthen the wrong muscles, while blocking it allowed him to build the correct muscles. Why should I let him build the wrong muscles and put a lot of effort on my part in working through the evasions when I can limit the evasions and get him working correctly with draw reins (and I know there are a lot of people who don't believe a horse can work correctly while wearing draw reins)? I could have used a German martingale on him to get the same results with less personal irritation, but I didn't have one available and I did have draw reins. Different tool, same results.


                          It sounds to me like Ticker is using the modified German martingale as a set of draw reins with a built in limit of effect (which is what a German martingale is when you get right down to mechanics).

                          Comment


                          • #53
                            I'm not really sure why you'd use a german martingale with two sets of reins. The whole point of the german martingale is that it only activates when the horse pulls beyond where you have them set. If the horse is going where you want him the pulley action is totally floppy and dormant.

                            I for one like the german much better because there aren't two sets of reins to fuss with and the corrective action is done by the horse and not by you, I can leave my hands totally still and the horse corrects himself.

                            That said I have not had a horse that needed a german in 3 years and then I only rode in it a couple rides a week for a month or two. It was a miracle tool for a bolter.
                            http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #54
                              Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
                              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.
                              Mr Oliveira put nearly all his school horses in running reins if the riders were not considered ready for double bridles. He didn't want them to lose their correct lightness and response while the riders learned aids and "feel". These horses were also schooled in the running reins so that they behaved pretty much the same as in the double bridle.

                              The running rein acted similarly to the curb bit helping the horse release the jaw without incurring too much lateral flexion.

                              I am tempted to try them on the spanish lunge cavesson with a horse that I have that braces the neck against the request for activation of the hind leg.

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                Draw reins can be useful IF used as there were intended (for the reasons they were developed) with is on a caveson and for lateral flexibility (at the atlas-axis). Progressive lateral flexibility (ie 20m circle to 10m to 8 to 6) helps with longitudinal flexibility and engagement. They are pulsed, never held with steady tension.

                                They (or any tack) should NOT be used to create longitudinal flexion (which means they are acting on the bars) as is so often seen.

                                Do many (good) riders use them to speed up the training process, or to allow riders who cannot keep the horse up to the bridle to do exercises (ie d.r. onto curb/etc)? Yes. But the question is what that does in end. The holes are almost always still there.

                                When the horse is too compressed/low by use of d.r. the underneck carries the neck rather the topline when the horse is lifted and arced out to the hand.
                                I am a little confused by your comment that they should be "used on a caveson". Do you mean a lunge caveson? If so, do you use them only when lunging? Then why use draw reins instead of side reins?

                                And I totally agree about the fact that when used incorrectly they cause the horse to use the underneck instead of the topline. And it can take a long time to retrain a horse that was ridden for years in draw reins. They are so used to bracing in the underneck (esp. the ones that are high-headed to begin with), their neck muscles are upside down (big on bottom of neck, and not so big on top of neck).

                                Comment


                                • #56
                                  Originally posted by Bats79 View Post
                                  Mr Oliveira put nearly all his school horses in running reins if the riders were not considered ready for double bridles. He didn't want them to lose their correct lightness and response while the riders learned aids and "feel". These horses were also schooled in the running reins so that they behaved pretty much the same as in the double bridle.

                                  The running rein acted similarly to the curb bit helping the horse release the jaw without incurring too much lateral flexion.

                                  I am tempted to try them on the spanish lunge cavesson with a horse that I have that braces the neck against the request for activation of the hind leg.
                                  Are running reins the same as draw reins? And did they go between the horse's front legs, or were they connected to the girth at the side?

                                  Comment


                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                                    I'm not really sure why you'd use a german martingale with two sets of reins. The whole point of the german martingale is that it only activates when the horse pulls beyond where you have them set. If the horse is going where you want him the pulley action is totally floppy and dormant.

                                    I for one like the german much better because there aren't two sets of reins to fuss with and the corrective action is done by the horse and not by you, I can leave my hands totally still and the horse corrects himself.

                                    That said I have not had a horse that needed a german in 3 years and then I only rode in it a couple rides a week for a month or two. It was a miracle tool for a bolter.
                                    Yes, I agree, a miracle tool for a bolter. I couldn't fix my bolter in a few rides and I found myself setting the German martingale too tight to control him. As I remember, He resented the downward pull of the GM and I was having great difficulty keeping him happy on it while controlling his outbreaks. This was a long long time ago so i don't recall everthing. I do believe that I added the second rein to make sure that I could stay off the GM while keeping it tight enough to contain him when he exploded...which he did with great regularity. His big size and long neck made the adjustments of slack on the GM more challenging for me and he absolutely hated the regular draw reins. Unhappy horse = unpleasant ride for me.

                                    My bolter did stop bolting and I competed him in dressage for a few years before an injury retired him.

                                    Comment


                                    • #58
                                      He was the horse that got me started on using the 2 reins all those years ago. I really liked the way it worked for me and I have been using this configuration ever since. Oops.. I meant to edit my previous post not add a new one.

                                      Comment


                                      • #59
                                        When d.r. were invented they went on a caveson (like a lunging one) and were used for riding (following work in hand on a curved line). Progressive lateral flexibility w/o actions on the mouth, and progressive engagement/lightness/etc.

                                        S.r. are fixed lengths and do not allow for bascule within the gait (hence only are really applicable to trot, and do not allow for actions for lateral flexibility and neutrality. For a rider learning to ride they can be used in a school horse setting when ridden.

                                        Retraining a horse schooled to 'give to the bit' (longitudinally) is indeed not an easy undertaking, and hh/demi-arrets have to be very calculated as a result.
                                        I.D.E.A. yoda

                                        Comment


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by Fillabeana View Post
                                          Question...


                                          And answer...



                                          Draw reins, running martingales, german martingales, etc. mechanically lower the base of the horse's neck.
                                          You can have the horse's FACE in the right 'position', but if you engage the leverage on the bit with BOTH reins, biomechanically you get a crammed-lower base of neck. The horse cannot lift his front end by engaging his hindquarters if his neck is being held hostage that way.
                                          I guess I will have to settle for "crammed" as the best biomechanical explanation so far

                                          As part of my horse's spinal rehab I am riding him in a plain snaffle in a very low, deep and round posture and it has worked wonders for his topline. It is not easy to do this correctly and sometimes it takes awhile to get him supple enough to relax his neck and really come through.

                                          When this happens, even though the neck is deep, his back fills in behind the withers and lifts me up in the saddle and all of a sudden his trot becomes easy to sit with better rhythm, reach and suspension. From there I can half halt, ride off my seat and easily ride all of lateral movements (even the left half pass, which is the most difficult for him).

                                          No, this is not an "uphill" way of going, but it is building his core strength so that when I do ask him come uphill it is easier for him to get there and keep the engagement.

                                          Anyway, getting back to the mechanics of the draw reins (which I am not using) I will have to concede that they can be problematic in the wrong hands, but I still don't see how when correctly used they prevent the horse developing the topline.

                                          Comment

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