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Draw Reins???

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  • Draw Reins???

    A student of mine had a lesson the other day with a better known trainer than myself. I asked how the lesson went and found out that the trainer put draw reins on the horse to encourage its 'muscles toward the right shape'. I was a bit shocked to be honest as I consider this as a serious short cut that creates a false frame anyway. What do others think? This horse is not hollow, he accepts the bit, and although green is a nice horse.
    A horse doesn\'t care how much you know until he knows how much you care.

  • #2
    eeeuuuwwwww not nice.

    I've used draw reins when my horse was being a little snot and was pulling like a train and needed a reminder of where his head should be. He wore them 10 minutes MAX and i was supervised by a very experienced friend.

    I agree with your views.. i wouldn't encourage your student to continue using them. He just sounds like he needs more time and work to learn.


    • #3
      Originally posted by tryhardeventer
      I consider this as a serious short cut that creates a false frame anyway.
      You are very right here. Draw reins create more problems than they solve. Once a horse learns to "give" to draw reins, they will forever try to drop behind the contact, and be in a false frame.


      • #4
        they have their place

        Although this may be a sidebar to the OP, draw reins do have a place, I think. They are a great way from keeping a less-strong rider from getting displaced by a strong horse. Yes, yes, they need to develop their seat, but a rider never will get the chance to if her horse, the only one she has to ride, keeps overpowering her. Letting a rider hang on the reins and making her resort repeatedly to arm strength instead of 'hip' strength is doing no one a service and may make the job harder in the end. Instead, let the rider get a taste of success and what it feels like to keep a dynamic rein feel AND be able to have a positive effect on the horse, and before you know it, the draw reins are like a photograph of an long-ago vacation. A nice memory...

        You're right, they should be used only in short doses and for many people, only under supervision. The OP sounds like a situation where the rider at this stage has undeveloped feel for a horse in front of her leg or possible throughness, and, yes, draw reins would block any development by anyone, but if she uses them under supervision, or even removes them early in each ride, she may get a chance to find her way to feel and to connection. A horse that goes well is what is going to teach a rider. A horse that is never on the right track is going to keep this rider from embodying (sp?) feel.


        • #5
          I've seen a runaway horse with his head pulled down by draw reins run head-on into a wall, causing serious damage to horse, wall, and rider. He sure could run fast with his head tucked that way. Too bad he couldn't see. If you want your horse to stop in an emergency you need to pull the head to the side, something draw reins don't help you with. I've also seen someone trying to over-power a horse with draw reins, only to find out that once you crank that head down, boy can the horse buck. Using draw reins as brakes/ a control mechanism is as wrong and ill-thought-out as using draw reins to try to get the horse on the bit.


          • #6
            I HATE Gagets. I have a new favorite quote from a book Im reading while Im fat and pregnant right now!

            "Yielding by means of Greman Reins (draw reins) which, while it has been established as a system, is a bizarre and distorted as an attempt to put a baby to sleep by administering opium" - M. Henriquet
            Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
            "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


            • #7
              The example offered by Redponyrider is horrifying, but probably a case where draw reins were NOT called for and improperly applied. My guess is, this horse RPR refers to had multiple problems. (Yes, I know, I wasn't there!) Draws are NOT "brakes". As for a horse dropping behind the vertical after use of draws, that has not been the case in my experience, though I have heard of and seen other horses who did react this way. It's all in the judicious application of the device, folks. Judicious.

              In experienced hands, or under correct supervision, draw reins can help a horse or rider get through a rough patch. However, I've seen them used by weak or poor riders to "control" their horses (with no supervision) and that is very bad. Learn to ride correctly first before messing with such devices. And then use them with care. There's a reason draw reins have been likened to "a razor in a monkey's paw" when used by the inexperienced.

              I agree with Cyberbay's post. Draw reins, like firearms, can be used for ill or good. Don't blame the device, blame the device's handler, if things go wrong.

              I just noticed the posting by STF regarding "German" reins. I wonder if this refers to the German Martingale or true draw reins? The German Martingale, IMO, is more dangerous than plain draw reins, because the rider CANNOT release the pressure from the German Martingale, while with draws, they can be completely released. Some horses will feel claustrophobic in German Martingales. STF, is the remark in parenthesis your clarification, or directly from Henriquet's text? Just curious.


              • #8
                Draw reins have their uses but are a tool only, they should never be everyday equipment for the length of the ride. And yeah, they can sure run off in them (in a running martingale too!).
                Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                • #9
                  Directly quoted from book text. He talkes about them in several different chapters. One in "Raised hands and their Problems" where I got the quote from and actually from reading it now it looks like he requoted it from The French Equestrain Federation Manual. There is also chapter where he breaks down each and every tack from saddle, spurs, girth to whip - including draw reins.
                  He pretty much says IF they have to be used, which is rare that its only by experienced people who wont teach horse to come behind the bit and can feel to know how to yield to the pressure needed.
                  Now one thing he HATES is the martingales:
                  "This is a harness that is used to hold the hroses head at a certain level by sheer force. Its use indicates that the rider is incapable of balancing and positioning the horse by means of classical suppling."
                  Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
                  "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


                  • #10
                    I don’t blame you,tryhardeventer, for being shocked. The correct muscling of the horse’s neck doesn’t come from manipulating the neck. Correct muscle development is a natural byproduct of refining the horse’s independent balance.


                    • #11
                      Thanks, STF, that clarifies it for me! I'm gratified that Henriquet does make a distinction between draw reins and German martingales. There IS a difference in their application and potential severity.

                      BTW, the way I've used draws in the past, I adjusted them so that the draw rein only acted when the horse came up against the hand. It can be quite useful with an "upside down" ewe necked horse, or one who, while having pretty correct build, still has underneck muscles that dominate, whether the original problem is structural or created from previous bad riding. The horse self-corrects in this case. He feels that resistance from the draw, and lowers his head to relieve it. The horse MUST be ridden forward into the hand. Correctly used, the horse is in contact with the "regular" reins the majority of the time, and only contacts the draws when he's "naughty".

                      The draw rein becomes a horrible weapon when used as a "pulley" to "make him round his neck/come on the bit/whatever". What horse wouldn't want to escape from such a thing? I'd reckon most of us have seen that abuse from time to time, and that's why there are so many warnings against its use. And rightly so. In the wrong hands, it's a terrible torture for the horse. In the right hands, it has benefits.


                      • #12
                        Ive used draw reins on a rearing jerk I once had here. But...... I knew to LET GO so I did not flip him over on me too!!
                        He was one that would slap his head back and try to nail you in the rear. He finally got out of it, but I cant say it was the draw reins, it more me beating his #%^$%^ forward and making life miserable for him every time he reared cuz he wanted to go back to the barn!
                        Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
                        "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Beasmom
                          Draw reins, like firearms, can be used for ill or good. Don't blame the device, blame the device's handler, if things go wrong.
                          Here here!

                          I have used them, conservatively, on multiple horses in the past. I would never give them to a novice rider - but used by someone with soft, supple hands,they can be very useful. When I use them, they are rarely the source of contact (as opposed to the direct rein) but function almost as a sliding, very maleable running martingale in a sense that the pressure is something the horse brings upon himself depending on how he moves his head. People who misuse them are people who ride on them (as opposed to the direct rein) and people who think that they use the reins to produce the desired headset as opposed to having it as a reinforcement tool as they push the horse into the bit.
                          "To understand the soul of a horse is the closest human beings can come to knowing perfection."


                          • #14
                            I use them maybe in sessions of 3 times every 5 months? We find to only use them when I as a rider need to work on my body more then the horse...Its there as a reminder that my mare cant venture with her head....and for me to not worry about her connection as much...if that makes sense.
                            I think they are great to use, in the right hands of the right rider. Some trainers "assign" their students to use them almost every day and ever ride...now that disgusts me in a way that the horse will soon learn to almost depend on them, in my poin of view.
                            Nikola - Premium Oldenburg Mare
                            Riverman X Luck Is Hard Work (TB)


                            • #15
                              Even when people think they are using them "correctly", they are always just putting their horse in a false frame.

                              I forget who this is a quote from but "a riders knowledge and horsemanship can be judged by the simplicity of his equipment."

                              Any rider good enough use draw reins "correctly" does not need them anyway. Proper riding is good enough.


                              • #16
                                wonder why they hav ethem at the spanish riding school then. they dont come out of the tack room often, but they do have them. wonder why. perhaps they dont know how to ride.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by slc2
                                  wonder why they hav ethem at the spanish riding school then. they dont come out of the tack room often, but they do have them. wonder why. perhaps they dont know how to ride.

                                  Nice try. I'm sure in your vast "experience" (armchair experience?) you actually have been deep into the corners of their tack room.

                                  No, the SRS does not use draw reins.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by lstevenson
                                    Nice try. I'm sure in your vast "experience" (armchair experience?) you actually have been deep into the corners of their tack room.

                                    No, the SRS does not use draw reins.


                                    Oh thank you, lstevonson - I needed a good chuckle!
                                    Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
                                    "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"


                                    • #19

                                      I believe Mikolka's quote is something along the lines of, "Those who know how to use draw reins properly don't need to use them."

                                      That being said, I personally have only used them occasionally (and no longer even have a set), and then only on my old eventer who was HUGE and occasionally tried to precipitate pulling contests. ("Here, mom, you can hold up my front end." Aaargh!) I rode with them as though the drawrein was the curb rein of a double or pelham, and it only came into play when he was being truly obnoxious. If he reconsidered his position within a reasonable time, I took them off. He absolutely hated dressage (but boy! could he jump!) and did his best flatwork in a double-bridle (but with minimal curb rein). Go figure.

                                      The other occasion I have seen them used that I thought was quite valid was in the retraining of a largish Arabian who had been through Arabian Pleasure and/or Park Horse training with one of those martingales where the reins run through metal loops on the shoulders of a breastplate-like device, head cranked up and back hollow. You could have ridden that horse forward, in front of the leg with gentle half halts and vibrating the bit a little, etc. or any other "correct" training method, and NEVER persuaded him to lower his head and round his back. He was ridden in draw reins for a while to try to coax him into a better position... and then they were removed. THough the rider was not that experienced in dressage, she worked with a good trainer and never rode in them without supervision.


                                      • #20
                                        The purpose of draw reins is lateral flexability NOT longitudinal flexion. That is why the use of them usually fails, they are used in a pulley fashion for longitudinal flexion and with continuous contact. Used in this way the horse gets stronger in the underneck, and never correctly mobile in the jaw nor in self carriage. Definately not to be used by a less educated rider.
                                        I.D.E.A. yoda