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ugh, please help me not repeat this mistake

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  • ugh, please help me not repeat this mistake

    I dropped my flippin reins yesterday!! both of them! of course at a fairly touchy moment.

    Had our second drive of the year yesterday, a nice 3 mile walk. We did a little exploring in the woods and in a grove of trees we practiced some really tight turns. At a walk. Intermittent long lining over the winter really paid off with much improved shoulder control. Pony discovered a new level of nimbleness and was t.h.r.i.l.l.e.d. with his new skills. He was snorting and chortling with delight as we made our way out of the grove, towards a steep incline that lead to the main path home. He had quite a spring in his step though very well behaved and I was laughing and just enjoying the nice day.

    As we came to the incline, I let him move into a trot, and - as I usually do - folded at the waist and stuck my arms out in front of me to give him room to reach.

    At the top, we had the choice to make either a hard right or a hard left. I called out 'come left' as I used my reins to guide him and I guess because we had *just* come from doing these incredibly tight sharp circles, he made an unexpected 90°

    My front wheel went just off the trail and hit a fairly good sized branch hiding in the leaf litter and good gravy it bounced me!!

    Next thing I knew I was very close to doing a somersault! Fortunately my one foot was up on the dash high enough to press me back into the seat, while I grabbed the rein rail with both hands to keep from tumbling out. But I managed to drop both stinking reins! On either side of the dash no less. But keep hold of the whip I really don't quite know how this happened, it was so fast and fluid.

    Thank goodness the bight managed to stay under my thigh despite my rump having come clear out of my seat.

    Of course I had time to let out a "Oh CRAP!" as slightly amped-up pony was now at a brisk trot headed home.

    I dove for the reins and then quickly glanced up, wincing, half expecting to now be aboard the chariot to hell My good good boy slowed of his own accord to a shuffle with head craned and both ears back saying "Hello?? Where are you??"

    By now I was back in control... and thanking my lucky stars it wasn't worse! I spent the rest of the day shaking my head and wondering how I could have let this happen.

    I've dropped a rein before, had one snapped out of my hand by an acrobatic tail, etc. and I always have the bight under my thigh or a breakaway leather tab around my pinky. But never have lost both before! Or been so thoroughly jostled, though I've taken bigger bounces before.

    I guess I was leaning too far forward?

    Should I be letting reins slip instead of leaning forward to give him room to reach? The hills we drive over are more like 'whoop-de-doos' very quick steep down up down, so there is a huge compression-extension-compression that takes place and I absorb that range with my trunk and arms, not letting my reins slip.

    Is this just a case of 'life happens'?

    I always drive on contact, and I always wear leather gloves though they're not what you'd call grippy. My reins are smooth, either beta or leather, though when I do drive with leather I use the flesh side up.

    While no one was any worse for wear, and it was over as quickly as it happened, I can't help but realize that had things been a little faster or touchier, this could've gone south in a hurry...

    I was driving two handed being in the woods, but this year am making the effort to drive single handed on the flat or groomed trails.

    Any advice is very appreciated. I am mortified I let his happen and want to learn from my mistakes
    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

  • #2
    I do not drive, always wanted to but to scared to try All I can say is maybe it was just a fluke? Glad no one got hurt!

    Comment


    • #3
      I was taught to always give and take back slack by lengthening or shortening the lines, not by using my body. The only time I use my body is at a canter, since my pony's head will of course rock back and forth in relation to the cart at that gait.

      But other things can cause you to drop your lines (in my case, limited hand strength and limited dexterity is the usual culprit). Your best defense for a dropped, broken, or hung up line is a horse that will always stop with a voice command.

      Rebecca

      Comment


      • #4
        You can get some "sticky grip stuff" at a sporting goods store, like the Baseball folks use on mitts to catch and HOLD the ball. Put it on both reins and gloves. Try a little first, may be more grip than you want if applied heavily. Using grip stuff, reins probably WILL NOT slide well thru your hands in a one-handed grip. With some practice, you can probably hit a happy medium application, gives you both grip and slip, for one-handed use.

        You may want to get some reins with grippy sections for your hands. Locally, the Amish harness folks have some EXCELLENT pimpled reins that DO NOT slip at all, even in pouring rain. Our Trainer friend loves them, says she NEVER can lose her grip with these in the many situations that starting Driving horses can get into. Harness sellers offer a variety of grippy reins, call your favorite one and ask about them.

        I commend you for having the bight of rein under your leg, a good safety measure to keep extra rein length under control. I DO NOT recommend using the rein loop on your finger, real easy to break that finger with a rein pull in situations like this. You might add a length of breakable string or skinny velcro to the rein buckle to fasten it to the seat, so it stays in place when you hit these bounce places. You might also run that string/velcro to your belt on side of your hip, just loop it thru belt, not tied, to keep it closer for grabbing. In BOTH cases, have string/velcro you can break fairly easily, so you can't get tangled in the reins. TRY ripping string/velcro loose before any "real life use" to make sure the release works.

        I also don't think you should be leaning SO forward with your body, even to aid the animal uphill. Makes you way out of balance, so MORE likely to fall with sudden changes in speed, direction or force of bounces. You SHOULD be able to "give enough rein" by moving just your arms forward, so he can use his lowered head for balance.

        Sorry, I can't remember if your cart has a seatback on it, to aid in preventing you going backwards off the seat? Those smaller, light carts with only a little rail on seat edge, are SO EASY to tip out backwards if you lose your balance with such a bounce. Make sure any seatback is solidly anchored to the seat itself, so if you do hit the back, it doesn't just give way with the push. Bending a seatback is fine, if it helps keep you INSIDE the vehicle in this case!

        Maybe with all your ground driving, you should drag a tire, get those bumps worked down on the trails!

        Comment


        • #5
          you said whooped dee doos! Motocross background?



          ETA to keep it horse related.

          get some sticky stick like the above poster said and keep your bum in the box !
          www.facebook.com/doggonegoodgoodies
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          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you all so much!

            Yep, I was wondering it was perhaps a matter of my leaning out too far, which I apparently have a habit of. I'll be learning to be less dramatic with my arms and body and learn better control of my lines.

            Grippy stuff sounds like a good idea, thank you SO much for the tips, and I have been thinking of grippy reins, or at least reins with stops.

            GREAT idea of a velcro tab for the buckle!! There is a great place I can attach it too. And really, thats what spooked me, I'm lucky the bight stayed under my thigh, had it flounced out the reins really could've gone anywhere and gotten hung up, dropped down towards a wheel, etc. I'm going to incorporate this idea immediately, thank you SO much.

            Yes I have a small bar across the back of my wedge seat, it falls around the small of my back. Its hard for me to imagine taking a tumble out the back, but then again, I never thought I'd come so close to doing a somersault out the side either

            RM funny you bring up cantering. When I first started cantering it was in my little jog cart and what a strange sensation! My morgan has a very animated canter with a lot of jump so I would pump my arms in an attempt to have following hands and encourage him to be be freely forward. As we've both gotten steadier, I've been trying to be more still with my arms at a canter, I still have the bad habit of pumping and my horse will sometimes find it irritating. Perhaps if I gently incorporate my body I can help break this bad habit.


            Yes, I used to race ATVs, and my girlfriend, who taught me to drive, used to do enduros. Hence our penchants for blazing around trails

            Many of the public trails I drive are shared with bikes and atvs and whoop de doos just happen after time. I don't subject my driving horse to the really small tight ones (those are SO fun horseback though!), but the larger slower ones are just part and parcel of our trails. Larger ones are still only 3 strides straight up, 3 strides straight down, sometimes 2 or 3 in a row. Even at just a brisk walk I need to adjust pretty fast.

            I have not yet figured out how to slip and take that much rein, that quickly, while still steering through tight trees and not dropping my whip.
            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

            Comment


            • #7
              In a situation where you are whipping around trees and having a fun time, remember that drivers in a CDE marathon are 'seat belted' in. (The groom holds the lash).
              www.facebook.com/doggonegoodgoodies
              http://doggonebakedgoods.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                An Advanced driver told me that he takes a length of braiding yarn and makes a look around his belt or belt loop and buckles the reins though that. He said it saved him several times from dropping the reins. And it will break easily if you become separated from your carriage.

                I never sit on the bite of my reins. I loop the end over my left hand. Having them there has saved me a time or two... :/
                Kanoe Godby
                www.dyrkgodby.com
                See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Early winter you asked for help/advice on getting better posture and rein position

                  Now that you are back driving again you NEED to take some of your driving time to PRACTICE improving those two skills

                  there are no quick fixes for this
                  Yeah some of the tricks for keeping reins from getting away from you will help in emergencies
                  but the real object is to prevent those emergencies in the first place

                  And I dont mean you have to drive at a staid walk/trot all the time

                  but with your first vehicle (jog cart) and a horse with an active tail - you picked up some not good habits that you need to kick in order to improve your driving in general

                  So make yourself spend at least 20 minutes of each driving session
                  or one session per week or some defined goal
                  and work on YOUR issues til they get better and give up the wild driving during that time, so you can improve

                  But Yeah - Spring is trying to SPRING! and its fun to go out and shake the willies

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    duck tape....

                    no, just teasing. but in breed driving, you may have seen the detachable hand hold loops that the big going Saddlebred fine harness folks use. These are not dangerous and may be good additions to your cross country mile time. And you don't have to be holding them at all times. You can change rein length but these big loops give you something to lay in the deep of your finger pads in times of Whoop de doo.

                    I realize this isn't correct for carriage driving. But its a tool.
                    ...don't sh** where you eat...

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      "Early winter you asked for help/advice on getting better posture and rein position

                      Now that you are back driving again you NEED to take some of your driving time to PRACTICE improving those two skills"

                      Haha! I was being SO good for the 3+ mile walk. Really! Sitting tall, elbows at my sides, elastic contact, nice stretchy walk. I promise I am making a very dedicated effort to kick my bad habits! This little incident was literally the last few steps to the path home.

                      Thank you so much for keeping an eye on me!!! I do need the reminders!
                      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My .00002 cents on the subject--

                        I have learned the tip of the iceberg on how your "equitation" for lack of a better word, in the box still does greatly affect what is happening with the horse.

                        If you drive sitting as you would on a ridden dressage horse- shoulders up (which means leaned back slightly), back arched in the small of the back just a little and hips deep under yourself (so you feel like you are like sitting quite well on your rump) - a fairly similar position to a deep dressage seat - the driving lines will translate your position and the effect your position has on the lines will encourage the horse to come under himself a little, raise up his shoulders, and flex on the bit - to get a little more round.

                        Never when riding, should you be leaning forward. If sudden things happen, you're usually (more than likely) going to up flipping over a shoulder. I think you've found out the somewhat difficult way, that it's pretty much the same with driving. Granted, you're not on the horse, but your movements in the cart really do affect what's happening through the horse - from croup to mouth.

                        I lengthen and shorten the lines- when I want to do a huge release- from my hands... I just let the lines go looooong. And I take them back up when I want them shorter. However, I expect my horse to stay in contact with the bit (well, of course - this is rather "ideal" and forever a work in progress...) but if I let the lines go long, I expect (or sometimes just sheer hope) that the horse will follow the bit and stay on it - to the ground if need be, if I've let them go that far. I encourage this with squeeze-release contact and get them to follow through. Also, while ideally working the back end, to encourage impulsion, longer strides, and extended reach. I know it sounds pretty idyllic, and more than likely this is NOT happening as well as my brain wishes it is, but that's the goal.

                        When I need to shorten those long lines, I just bring them in - and the roundness (should) return, because the horse is still on the bit.

                        When I want to lengthen/shorten just a little to allow for a little stretch, just a little more room to "run" so to speak, then I push my hands forward. So the lines are only giving out a few inches of slack, rather than a foot or more if I "drop" them (figuratively).







                        http://www.kshai1715.wordpress.com
                        Life in 2013: Horses, Life, Photography
                        Last edited by Chewbacca; Mar. 31, 2013, 10:42 AM.
                        eBook on Amazon - The Beginner's Guide to Buying a Horse
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                          You can get some "sticky grip stuff" at a sporting goods store, like the Baseball folks use on mitts to catch and HOLD the ball. Put it on both reins and gloves. Try a little first, may be more grip than you want if applied heavily. Using grip stuff, reins probably WILL NOT slide well thru your hands in a one-handed grip.
                          Yeah - I'd watch this. Had a friend who bought a new pair of sticky-fingered gloves and a new pair of rubber reins just before an event. Horse galloped down to water, stopped to check it out and she [attempted to] dropped the reins. NOT. Sailed over his head - still attached. No harm/some foul.
                          www.ayliprod.com
                          Equine Photography in the Northeast

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Firstly, they are "lines". What I do is get a piece of yarn and tie it onto the lines' buckle at my end. Make a loop big enough to slide a finger thorough it. Next time, run your lines under & over the rein rail, buckle them closed, adjust them , slide your pinkie thru that little yarn loop, and have fun. IF you have trouble like you did ( and I'm REALLY glad you didn't have a worse wreck!!) then that yarn will break under pressure. As many above have mentioned, good posture when driving is the same as when riding. Sit up tall, think in advance, and don't move along to quickly until you Both are ready

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              "I have learned the tip of the iceberg on how your "equitation" for lack of a better word, in the box still does greatly affect what is happening with the horse."
                              Chewbacca you are so right. While I always *knew* this I didn't really start experiencing it for myself until the end of last season, which is why I came into this year determined to break old poor posture habits.

                              We're walking 95% of the time for our drives for the next few weeks, and with the spring chill in the am I have a nice forward sensitive horse. He has been SO responsive to experimenting with posture, its been really eye opening.

                              "I lengthen and shorten the lines- when I want to do a huge release- from my hands... I just let the lines go looooong. And I take them back up when I want them shorter. "
                              Had a fantastic drive on Friday and started paying with a combo of letting the lines slide along with less arm and body movement and I think I'm onto a good thing here. Thank you so much!

                              "Firstly, they are "lines"."
                              Thank you, and thank you for your advice and tip about using the rein rail.
                              Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Sounds like you are on the right track, Buck! Whoo hoo


                                On any of my horses, I can --- not that one would want to - but the point is, I can -- drop both my lines (literally out of my hands completely), and for quite some distance they will stay at gait and on track. Because I am soft in their mouth anyway, when I drop the lines they drop their heads (well, usually anyway) and look for the contact.

                                I spent/and still spend quite a bit of time working with quite a bit of slack in the lines and keeping the horses IN GAIT. Sometimes, they want to go faster if you lose the contact - and that tends to mean that you are holding them back the whole time, so they take that "freedom" and "run" when you give them slack.

                                I like to teach mine (again, all things a work in progress and by no means a flawless thing), that when I let the lines go long, they can still keep doing their job at the pace they were being told to do so... be it a walk, or a trot. This is not something I have integrated into the canter yet. LOL!

                                Some are better at it than others, but like all things with horses, you just work in small steps - give a huge release on the lines for 5 feet and keep the same pace. Make that a goal for the day and be done.



                                http://www.kshai1715.wordpress.com
                                Life in 2012. Horses, Life, Photography
                                eBook on Amazon - The Beginner's Guide to Buying a Horse
                                My Blog - Life in 2014; Horses, Life, Photography

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                                • #17
                                  I used to sit on the ends of my lines, just in case. If yours aren't long enough for that, you could tie on some extenders; even baling twine would work.

                                  I also used to work on complete slack in the reins and the whoa command, just in case.
                                  Ride like you mean it.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by spotsndots View Post
                                    Firstly, they are "lines". What I do is get a piece of yarn and tie it onto the lines' buckle at my end. Make a loop big enough to slide a finger thorough it. Next time, run your lines under & over the rein rail, buckle them closed, adjust them , slide your pinkie thru that little yarn loop, and have fun. IF you have trouble like you did ( and I'm REALLY glad you didn't have a worse wreck!!) then that yarn will break under pressure. As many above have mentioned, good posture when driving is the same as when riding. Sit up tall, think in advance, and don't move along to quickly until you Both are ready
                                    Reins or lines, both are correct names in Driving.

                                    Next is that I would NOT recommend running the reins over and under the rein rail, because it can change the line from saddle terrets to hands, and secondly, it can delay the rein action to the horse mouth even more. Any time the reins are touching something, terret rings, over the rein rail, rubbing across the rump, it adds more "blur" to the signal the horse feels at the bit, along with delay time from hands to mouth as rein slows and rubs along the way.

                                    In the ideal setup, horse reins are as straight as possible from mouth to hands, so signals are direct from hands to that mouth for prompt response. We strive for that, not always as perfect as we would like with our various vehicles. Seats are usually higher to avoid breaking the line with rub places behind the saddle terrets.

                                    Adding extra friction with rubs on terret rings, rein rail, plus possible angle change as rail holds one rein down (pulley action on only ONE rein), before getting to the hands, is going to change how the horse responds. Have to believe that postitioning reins like this is NOT going to work well for rein handling with any finesse or aiding your one-handed reinhold. Both give and take on the reins is going to be affected.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      disagreed..... Sorry, goodhors. I've always done that- and it's one of the reasons one Has a rein rail in the first place. My Lines are long enough to sit on easily,but I choose to run them thru the rein rail, and pick them up so the buckle is the only thing touching the rein rail. One doesn't hold lines as you described- Holding the lines above that solve the problem of angles, etc... and the lines are straight in angles. Also I sit even with the pelvis of my horses- not below as some carts/ vehicles sit a human. One handed 'rein driving' is called Achenbach and is a german manner of driving. Hold Lines in one hand in an 'over / under' method with the left hand holding one's whip.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Spotsndots- I am really confused about what you are talking about- "running the lines through the rein rail"

                                        Are you actually driving with the lines under the rail? or are you just buckling the slack end of the lines TO the rein rail and driving with the free lines above the rail?

                                        Are you disagreeing with goodhorse- or simply clarifying a point which goodhorse had misunderstood?

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