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Feeling awful...horse flipped over in side reins

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  • #41
    I realized with my new guy he couldn't be lunged in side reins. We started him in VERY loose side reins tied with baling twine so they snap under duress and got him used to on rein. Worked on the one rein being the inside and then the outside. He seemed to be okay with it and a few sessions later we tried both side reins. Regardless of them being extremely loose he could not get that he was to go forward into it and panicked and went up.

    Luckily didn't go all the way over but we scrapped the lunging idea and just went undersaddle. I do want to reassess this with this horse at some point as a lot of physical therapy has happened from that point till now and the horse is a different one both mentally and physically. I still believe there is alot a horse can get out of being lunged in side reins.

    I too have worked with multiple trainer, including Gillian Clissold, who as the horse advanced in their work had the inside rein shortened.
    Grab mane and kick on!



    • #42
      I also say how sorry I am...scary situation for sure. Jingles to your horse and you who must be horrified. Try not to feel guilty...take this situation and learn from it. You have been given an opportunity to teach your horse in a new way...

      You know, the arabian training theory gets a lot of heat but the one thing we DON'T do is put a green horse in two solid side reins EVER.

      We teach our young/green horses with one rein only when lunging then long line so the horse always has 'somewhere to go'...they never feel trapped.

      Only when they are really trained will we put them into to two reins...rarely though. For the above reason.


      • #43
        Inside rein shorter...

        First, I am sooo sorry this happened to you. Its so scary, but I don't see anything here that I think you or your instructor did "wrong". I think this is just a freak accident, so please don't beat yourself up about it. And, while being cautious is wise, he's PROBABLY just fine. I agree that I think after flip #1, I would've moved to immediately take the side reins OFF, but hindsight is always 20/20.

        As to the inside rein shorter thing... before we all get up in arms about things being WRONG or RIGHT... Some very notable instructors (including, I think, Klimke) note that having the inside rein shorter is acceptable. But its usually reserved for more advanced horses doing smaller circles where there is more bend in the body.

        I agree, if the USDF is teaching that the inside rein should always be shorter... I think that is truly stupid. Especially on very green horses who have not established straightness, and fluid contact with the outside rein, I think putting the side-reins off-set is a huge mistake.

        Is there any way to notify and/or get an "advisory opinion" from USDF on this? I can't imagine that the higher-ups support this idea. Is it possibly just one instructor with a particular method/opinion that she should not be passing on?


        • #44
          Hope he is OK! Go easy for a week or so, at least. I am amazed that your trainer wanted you to put him right back into work, and In Sidereins. What is she thinking???
          Probably thinking about the possibility of ever riding or working the horse again if she just untacked, patted Poor Baby, put him back in this stall, and called the vet. I agree with her decision to keep working the horse if he was showing no overt pain issues. I would probably have removed the sidereins and galloped the horse for 15 or 20 minutes, then started back to work.

          While you may all gasp, how the instructor responds to such a violent evasion could impact the rest of the horse's riding career. No matter how much he hurts or what his physical issue is, there is no excuse for that kind of behavior. It puts the rider's life on the line. If he is rewarded for the behavior, it becomes a lifelong habit, always lurking in the background. If he is punished for it, it reduces the chances of happening again.

          Most people who have started a lot of horses will have had one or two go up and over in sidereins. It's not good. It happens. The horse can get hurt. He could get killed but so could the rider.

          Call a vet and have him checked out. If he is cleared to work, start the horse over on the longe without sidereins, and find out why he had a failure to go forward. Work him in hand where you can give instantly to teach him acceptance of the snaffle.

          My six year old is teething, by the way.
          Kathy Johnson


          • #45
            Haven't read all the posts,but I start all my horses in side reins, prefernce being for the ones with the donut. I never shorten one rein, and I start out with longer reins in the beginning.

            I make it a point to do the inside rein up last, and I also make it a point to be ready to move them off immediately.

            I have had a horse that would go up in side reins, he did it several times in his life time. He died of old age.

            Horses that shut down (that is halt and won't move forward) on the longe, after working well,are telling you that they've had enough.
            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.


            • #46
              I did read all the posts, and I think the "tongue over the bit" idea is interesting as my first thought was about the bit. Make sure it isn't pinching his lips or tongue. Also, I like the method where you have a siderein on the outside but run the lungeline through the bit ring and attach it to the girth on the inside. That way the longeline acts as a sliding siderein and it is easy to adjust the contact, particularly if they trip and scare themselves.


              • #47
                Originally posted by SandyUHC View Post
                I did read all the posts, and I think the "tongue over the bit" idea is interesting as my first thought was about the bit. Make sure it isn't pinching his lips or tongue. Also, I like the method where you have a siderein on the outside but run the lungeline through the bit ring and attach it to the girth on the inside. That way the longeline acts as a sliding siderein and it is easy to adjust the contact, particularly if they trip and scare themselves.
                I use this method also, but ONLY on an advanced horse who is not likely to panic. When the S*** hits the fan, that inside longe line can get you in trouble.
                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                • #48
                  I use side reins with my youngster and in one of the first sessions he thought he couldn't move either. Normally when I change something I first walk next to him to make him relax and let him see that nothing is the matter.
                  I have always learned that both side reins should always be on the same length. When you ride him you also have reins on the same length eventhough you ask for a bend on the inside. Making the inner reins shorter puts strain on it and that is the opposite effect that you want. Because you want to learn the horse to give and to be able to relax. If you keep on using them (after checking him out by a vet or manual therapist) I would always use 2 with the same length. The bend will then give him relatively more space on the inside to give and relax. My horse relaxed when I walked next to him after I made adjustments to the rein.
                  I hope your horse is alright! Take care!
                  Offspring of Ramiro Z clique,member TrakehNERD Clique Very proud and honored to be the human of Fargo (RIP) and Whizzard. Whizz what a true friend you are.


                  • #49
                    I've started quite a few horses, and have only ever had one do this. It was a 6 year old mare and the side reins were fairly loose and even on both sides with her moving forward nicely, but when we went to change directions she just went up and over without much warning. Her owner was quite shaken up understandably, but I completely agree with Kathy about the instructor needing to address this immediately. When it happened to me, I made sure the horse was not injured or in pain and we continued to work. The vet checked her out the next day and she got some bute and liniment that week, but she was just sore and stiff. She's never done it again and I am able to work her in sidereins, although we very slowly worked back up to that.

                    To the OP, these things happen, and I hope your horse is just a little banged up and not hurt. I wouldn't stop using the side reins, but I would exercise a lot more caution since he did this once. Good luck in your situation!


                    • #50
                      I've said many times on this board already, side reins not for every horse. I personally don't use them, NOT because I don't believe in them... BUT the horses I train are very average in way of going and natural balance. You push them on the lunge line, the best they could do is track up, but most of the time, they are on the forehand... you put side reins on, they can't move forward... they stop, they fling their heads, or compress their neck and hold it up (then you thought oh I need one of those neck stretchers or Passoa system. <sigh>).

                      For my average horses, lunging is just for days when I don't want to ride, or to teach them walk/trot/canter/stop, or I lunge over poles to help them move better. Everything else, I must ride them so i can actively work on their balance.

                      IMO, sidereins are most useful on horses with some natural balance and with more uphill conformation... horses when you push forward, they are really forward, under themselves and inclined to engage from behind. In those cases, horses do figure out what contact means on their own and they are wonderful tools. Many people use side reins religeousely... I don't blame them cuz a lot of these people either they themselves work with well bred horses exclusively, or they train with people who work with well bred horses exclusively.

                      If your horse is progressing well, and you're not going to do your 5 year old FEI test, don't worry about side reins, or Pessoa system or Vienna reins or German reins or draw reins. When a horse moves correctly, forward and balanced, you can teach the horse contact in 10 minutes.


                      • #51
                        I was referring to the fact that the trainer told the horse's owner to work the Same Week In Side Reins! I agree, after an episode like this, the trainer needs to get SOME form of agreement before ending the day. I would have worked without the side reins, and just gotten some sort of Yes, and then quit a winner. But for the weeks following, I would be very cautious, and NOT tackle the side rein issue until the horse had a full check up by a vet and at least a couple weeks recovery. Doesn't mean I would sit him in the stall, but I would NOT work in side reins - again the chance of a repeat flip is very high, and if there is a mild injury, you will make it major if you make him fall again. Err on the side of caution in my opinion. But again, given the situation, I agree, make the horse do some sort of decent work before he gets to go home. Just wanted to clarify.


                        • #52
                          Originally posted by Alter-size Me View Post
                          I have a very quiet and laid back 6 year old who is green but going well w-t-c and learning his dressage basics. I'm an experienced rider working with an instructor. I have lunged him in side reins before, starting very loose and gradually progressing to a light contact.

                          Today in a lesson my instructor increased the contact a little more than before. Not cranking him in by any means, just a steady contact with a bit of bend to the inside. He was going well like this trotting and cantering, but at one point stopped and wouldn't go forward. With little warning, he went over backwards. When my instructor was trying to adjust the side reins after this, he went over again, almost like he was throwing himself over. He was not visibly hurt and was sound (thank god) but was shaken. She decreased the contact to almost none and he finished the session well like this. We gave him a bute and checked him over, and he seemed just fine.

                          I am feeling horrible about this. He is an incredibly sweet horse who has never resisted going forward under saddle, much less to rear. Obviously the contact was too much for him at this stage, which my instructor freely admitted - she was just as shocked and horrified as I was.

                          Has this ever happened to anyone out there before? If so, did it cause long term training damage? Does anyone have suggestions on how to minimize the trauma from this unfortunate event? My instructor told me to just longe him for 5 minutes a few times this week with very light side rein contact to let him know that it is OK.

                          Any advice would be helpful, but I ask that you please do not attack me or my instructor. I am sincerely asking for constructive ideas for the best of this sweet horse. Thanks.

                          WOW! You are ever so lucky . . . last summer the same thing happened to a fellow boarder, her mare went over backwards in side reins, slammed her head into the floor of the indoor. She was bleeding from her mouth and ears. Had some brain damage, but did eventually recover enough to be ridden lightly - not sure what the full outcome is/was as the mare was moved
                          rather unexpectedly to another facility . . .

                          If it were me, I'd probably re-think using side reins at all, I'm not sure it would be worth the risk.

                          "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy


                          • Original Poster

                            Thank you, everyone. My vet came and checked him this morning and sees no signs of any trauma. He is sound at all three gaits, has full range of motion of his neck and no pain upon spinal palpation. He's bright, alert and normal in all respects. At this time my vet did not feel that radiographs were in order, but said to keep an eye on him. If I did wind up doing the radiographs I would need to take him to the local medical center as the portable machine would not get good enough views.

                            As for the side reins, you all raise interesting points. Above all I have learned that side reins are not a tool to be taken lightly! I've never had a horse with issues with them before, so this has been a real eye opener to me. I agree with those who said that my instructor did the right thing in continuing to work him for a little while so that the behavior did not create a permanent bad lesson.

                            However, my decision with this particular horse is to never use side reins again. He's not going to go Grand Prix - just a fun and sweet lower level guy. There is something about them at a certain length that makes him feel trapped, and I just don't want to ever take the risk with him again. Since he has NEVER done anything remotely like this, or even suggestive of this under saddle I do feel that it is isolated to this training tool. These side reins were web, with little give, which may have contributed to his panic, and the inside was one hole shorter than the outside. These factors may have been what pushed him to panic, but I'm not going to try again with different side reins/adjustment to find out.

                            Thank you again for all the advice and help and for keeping this discussion civil.


                            • #54
                              I just have one more comment here- what are all you people doing that has your horses flipping over in side reins and killing themselves or causing brain damage or spinal injuries? I use side reins in my trainng EVER SINGLE DAY and have never even remotely had problems like this!!!!! Maybe a few steps backwards from a greenie who is testing them at first but a flick with the whip and we're on our way no problem. All I have to say is all these incidents scare me, not about a simple device like a side rein, but at the incompetancy of people who can not read their horses well enough to tell that there is a problem and they need to change what they are doing (especially when said people refer to themselves as trainers).


                              • #55
                                Originally posted by Kathy Johnson View Post
                                No matter how much he hurts or what his physical issue is, there is no excuse for that kind of behavior. It puts the rider's life on the line. If he is rewarded for the behavior, it becomes a lifelong habit, always lurking in the background. If he is punished for it, it reduces the chances of happening again.
                                I was going to let this pass, but I just can't ...

                                This may be just a matter of semantics, but punishing a horse for a panicking? Continue working (if he's OK) to assure him, to show him there's nothing to fear and end on a good note, yes. But working a horse with the attitude that you're punishing him when you pushed him a little too hard, nope. Not never. Not no how.

                                Horse's minds just don't work that way. Only humans' do. As I said, could be just your choice of words because I usually agree with your POV.

                                To the OP -- stuff happens. I hope you're both just shaken up, and you can figure out what happened and go on.

                                But you are lucky. A good friend's mare flipped in side reins, hit her poll and died almost instantly. This particular horse was not green and had never shown the slightest inclination to rear under saddle. She just wasn't used to side reins.

                                Anyway, good luck.
                                "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                                the best day in ten years,
                                you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."


                                • Original Poster

                                  mp, don't want to speak for the other poster but I do think it was just semantics. IN NO WAY did my instructor punish my horse. She simply worked him gently at the trot on the longe for 5-10 minutes after determining that he was not lame or visibly harmed so that he would not get put away frightened and learning that rear/flip=no more work. I think that was all the other poster was suggesting.


                                  • #57
                                    Renae -- have you ever considered counting your blessings? I cannot tell if you are arrogant or ignorant but perhaps you haven't been all the way around the block enough times to realize that horses are unpredictable at times.

                                    EqTrainer, good point about the sliding inside side rein, I would never use it with a horse that wasn't a quiet, confirmed longe-er. I'll have to give some thought as to whether it is more or less dangerous than a fixed side rein on a horse in a panic though.


                                    • #58
                                      Originally posted by SandyUHC View Post
                                      Renae -- have you ever considered counting your blessings? I cannot tell if you are arrogant or ignorant but perhaps you haven't been all the way around the block enough times to realize that horses are unpredictable at times.
                                      It doesn't alarm you that so many people are posting incidents like this happening in side reins as a common place occurance when in fact it is not nor should it be?

                                      BTW- I worked as an assistant trainer at big barns with 30-40 training horses for 8 yers (so probably 200-250 individual horses total- green colts through old broke kiddie toters). Like I said, not once did I witness a horse flipped over because of side reins and the one time a horse went up and over in long lines the head trainer who was working him realized he was asking to much and stepped back a notch on what he was asking and fixed the problem to where he was able to ask for as much as he wanted in long lines. I have my own barn now, a small breeding brn, so yes, fewer horses, but I can see when I am pushing a horse to hard and for the most part remedy it before i push the horse into doing something this dangerous.
                                      Last edited by Renae; Dec. 18, 2006, 01:06 PM.


                                      • #59
                                        I personally have never had this happen to me but my horse flipped over in the cross-ties once. she had some neck probelms and i would recommend you have your horse checked with a chiropractor. But training damage wise nothing happened except her neck was all jointed weird.
                                        "Not all Treasure is Silver and Gold"


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by Renae View Post
                                          It doesn't alarm you that so many people are posting incidents like this happening in side reins as a common place occurance when in fact it is not nor should it be?
                                          I don't think anyone implied that flipping over in side reins is commonplace. Just that it can happen and can happen quite suddenly. The fact that you've never had it happen doesn't mean everyone else is incompetent.
                                          "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                                          the best day in ten years,
                                          you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."