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Romel Reins 'fashionable' and bit related question

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  • Romel Reins 'fashionable' and bit related question

    I was discussing a show with a judge and he commented that some riders in romel reins were not ready for them but that he was seeing more of them because they were 'fashionable'. Comments?

    Also, he mentioned something about riders having the wrong type of bit for the romel reins. What type of bit is appropriate for romel? I did not get him ask him because of the circumstances.

    He was not being impolite but just making general observations after judging for a local show where I was helping to manage the show.

  • #2
    Here is a bit of information and more if you follow the links provided:

    https://www.quarterhorsenews.com/201...r-romal-reins/

    Traditionally those reins were used once the horse was finished, in the bridle and riding with some kind of spade port bit, on a horse that is up in the bridle and working off the slightest aids.

    Today you see them used any place someone wants to use them.

    Comment


    • #3
      I feel like the romal reins are "fashionable" in the Ranch Horse classes, at least what I've seen for AQHA shows. I've been really paying attention to those classes b/c I plan to show AQHA for the first time this year myself. I will NOT be using romal reins b/c I've never used them and I have no need to have "special" reins just to show. My normal reins will do just fine.

      It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

      Comment


      • #4
        Dennis Moreland has some great videos. Here is one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuAntl6SYvs

        Horses should be at the pinnacle of their training before they are put into Romals and Spades. Bits should have fixed sides, no moving shanks.
        Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Bluey View Post
          Here is a bit of information and more if you follow the links provided:

          https://www.quarterhorsenews.com/201...r-romal-reins/

          Traditionally those reins were used once the horse was finished, in the bridle and riding with some kind of spade port bit, on a horse that is up in the bridle and working off the slightest aids.

          Today you see them used any place someone wants to use them.
          I hope they are never used with a spade bit. That bit should be on a wall and not in a horses mouth.
          Reason...
          The leverage on the curb forces the horse to lower his head to escape the pressure,
          The spade contacting the horses pallet forces the horse to raise his head to escape the pressure.
          I don't care that it was once what every finished western horse was ridden in a spade bit, at that time you could buy dynamite at the hardware store to take out that tree stump or whatever. You shouldn't now and you can't now.
          3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375 10582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706 79821480865132823066470938446095505822317253594081 284811174502841027019385.....

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by 5 View Post

            I hope they are never used with a spade bit. That bit should be on a wall and not in a horses mouth.
            Reason...
            The leverage on the curb forces the horse to lower his head to escape the pressure,
            The spade contacting the horses pallet forces the horse to raise his head to escape the pressure.
            I don't care that it was once what every finished western horse was ridden in a spade bit, at that time you could buy dynamite at the hardware store to take out that tree stump or whatever. You shouldn't now and you can't now.
            I agree, but many western riders today still wax poetic about how well those horses rode, etc.
            Those and their followers still do it the old way, tradition their goal.
            Those stiff up in the bridle horses you see in the old drawings and pictures later are truly like that, thanks to that kind of finish on a horse.

            Then, when we consider that some like horses motoring around a ring legs flailing in all kinds of gaits, some live for jumping, others for enjoying horses as a transportation method thru trails, or minis as pasture ornaments and yet others like the old spade horse ... and why not?

            When it comes to what people want from their horses, well, different strokes and all that.

            Comment


            • #7
              Speaking of dynamite . . .

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't know about 'fashionable', but almost every horse at the Morgan shows is shown in romels, including my own. The only class I didn't use them in was ranch pleasure & reining (didn't want to change everything over from the show headstall to a plain headstall). I like the feel of them far better than split reins, especially for showing. At home I mostly ride in splits, however.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The proper name is romal reins.
                  Romal is the end attached to reins the old spanish vaqueros added to their closed reins.
                  It was used to slap your leg to get cattle moving.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Back in the day when I was a child, rawhide romal reins were the norm. I showed Arabians and Quarter horses in them as did everyone else where I showed. If they are a "fad" then they are a very old "fad".

                    The bits were not necessarily spades. They were fairly heavy and had different mouthpieces depending on the horse, but never a broken (snaffle type) mouthpiece. Rein chains were always used and hobbles carried on the saddle.

                    The horses were ridden from seat and legs and never on contact with the bit. The people that I rode for were very good horse people and there was certainly no abuse of the horses mouth involved.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 5 View Post

                      I hope they are never used with a spade bit. That bit should be on a wall and not in a horses mouth.
                      Reason...
                      The leverage on the curb forces the horse to lower his head to escape the pressure,
                      The spade contacting the horses pallet forces the horse to raise his head to escape the pressure.
                      I don't care that it was once what every finished western horse was ridden in a spade bit, at that time you could buy dynamite at the hardware store to take out that tree stump or whatever. You shouldn't now and you can't now.
                      I agree. I also disagree with the idea of using a bit to do what the rider's seat and legs and hands should help aid the horse to do. If an upper-level dressage horse can be ridden in a snaffle, a western horse can too -- with the proper rider, that is.

                      As to the hobbles, they are/were required equipment when showing with closed reins because you can't ground-tie with closed reins, unlike with split reins.
                      Rack on!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                        Here is a bit of information and more if you follow the links provided:

                        https://www.quarterhorsenews.com/201...r-romal-reins/

                        Traditionally those reins were used once the horse was finished, in the bridle and riding with some kind of spade port bit, on a horse that is up in the bridle and working off the slightest aids.

                        Today you see them used any place someone wants to use them.
                        I had a hard time staying focused on that video, I kept getting distracted by that badly-fitting bridle practically sitting up against the horse's eye.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RatWrangler View Post

                          I had a hard time staying focused on that video, I kept getting distracted by that badly-fitting bridle practically sitting up against the horse's eye.
                          I didn't even noticed there was a video there, just the story.

                          Decades ago, Don Dodge was talking about spade bits and romals.
                          What he was saying of how they trained for horses up in the bridle, how they rode, it was like power steering, that was all very interesting.

                          Other than a tradition, that old style I think is not what today's riders are after, we are way past that.
                          I see it a little like today's western riding is to how western performance horses work like the forward seat was to jumping the way it was a century ago, when they still were leaning back over jumps.

                          Today western riders have horses way more flexible and truly in self collection, not any more the old stiff, mostly u-necked up in the bridle that the spade bits were demanding in the finished training.

                          We can train horses any one way, to do anything we want and we have and we do.

                          As our old military officer instructor used to say to make us reflect, when we kids would be so happy to have invented some not so smart training trick, "we can train a horse to do anything, good sensible ways and silly ones without merit, like teaching them to back pulling on their tails while we are riding them".

                          The beauty of today's information world, we can know so, so much more today, cross pollinating ways to train horses, debating old ones, all not any more at a local and regional level, but worldwide.
                          What a great way to do right for our horses, no matter what we are doing with them.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I used to work for an Arabian horse trainer who used an extremely high-ported, heavy bit with romal reins for showing. I don't know if it was actually called a spade but but for all intents and purposes, it was one.

                            In my experience with her horses, "power steering" is a pretty apt analogy except for the fact that we rode almost entirely with seat and leg - generally, we didn't consciously steer/brake with our hands at all.

                            That bit was used only for showing. The horses were introduced to it and she used it for schooling for a few rides before the show, but otherwise they were ridden in snaffles at home.

                            So why did she bother to use that bit at all? Because it really did feel like power steering and the horses were ultra "light" and responsive. Also, the way the bit hung in the mouth created a very stable headset (without discomfort, as long as it was properly fitted) and the rider's hand remained almost perfectly still - any adjustment was so minute as to be virtually invisible. And yes, I know that "headset" is an anathema to most of the working disciplines but as Bluey pointed out, not all disciplines are the same. Her horses were happy, soft, and responsive so they clearly didn't know that headsets are bad.

                            The horses I rode under her were all perfectly comfortable with it. Under her training, I introduced my gelding to it and he accepted it happily. Even the first time I put it on him he just mouthed it a bit, dropped his head, and was ready to work. (And I knew when he wasn't comfortable with a bit because he made his opinion clear with the loose ring snaffle, which he absolutely hated. Eggbutts, d-rings, and this high-ported bit were good but no loose,-rings for him!) I didn't show him Western so I didn't ride him in it afterwards. And I'm more into lower level dressage and pleasure riding today so I don't have any use for that type of bit now.

                            I don't think it is inherently painful bit, though it is one that could do tremendous damage in the wrong hands, for sure.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I can use both and showed in both for years, Romal out in Cali and split reins when I moved to Texas. They have plusses and minuses like anything else, my experience was the Romals were better with a non jointed, non loose jaw shanked curb bit on a finished horse and the split reins better with broken mouth, loose jaw curb or snaffle on a less experienced horse.

                              The split reins are held thumb up running top to bottom and you can use a finger between the reins for subtle, single rein adjustments. The romal reins the thumb is still up but reins come in under the little finger and run bottom to top, no fingers between so no single rein tweaks. If you just look at your clenched palm and imagine each type rein while flexing the wrist as you would riding, you can see a little different way the message is going to the horse. More up down with the Romal, better side to side with the splits.

                              Dont think fashion is the best reason to choose either one without understanding how they will work with each horse and their bit preference. That said, a broke horse with a mild curb is probably good to go either way. If you show, usually are going to want to use what everybody else is, fine but be sure you got a bit that works best with whatever rein you have, no moving parts with the Romal, Not all the way to spade but just something that stays quiet in the mouth.

                              If I had to pick one over the other, prefer the Romal as I have a small hand and fingers and always found it easier to manage them for subtle adjustments then the wider split reins. But I learned to be pretty adept in the splits. The splits can be heavier as well, some WP devotees carry a bit more weight in those reins. I oreferred the Romal in Trail and Western Riding classes due to having to open, pass thru and close the gate without taking a hand off of it. Easier for me then the splits. Won both in AQHA and APHA all over Texas Romal and all. I was a lemming in the rail classs and blended in with split reins. When I did Reining occaisionally, started with the Romal but came to llke the splits better, especially for the roll backs and spins.

                              By the way, you can ground tie with the Romal, unsnap one rein. They dropped the carrying hobbles rule, least where and when I was showing, nobody did it and it took waaaay too long in big classes. Remained in effect out in Cali at the old AHSA Open shows, no idea where they are at with it now.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I show and ride outside and those worlds are two different things and some of y'all are confusing the two as how horses are trained with the mentioned equipment. I am by far not a "traditionalist" or "purist" when it comes to bridle horses. I dabble in and have been lucky to ride with guys who really make and use bridle horses not just the clinician followers.
                                But I feel like I need to yell this for the people in the back.

                                If it has a big mouthpiece and fancy cheeks you may not be familiar with, it doesn't make it a spade. If it has braces, it is a spade and it must have braces to be considered so.
                                The spade is not meant to be pulled on or used as a curb/leverage bit.
                                With a properly adjusted curb strap (which is intended for stabilization in the mouth and to prevent over rotation, not leverage) the amount of pressure in the mouth is minimal due to surface area of the spoon and braces. It is easier to teach a horse to run through the spade than almost any other bit marketed today.
                                Don Dodge created the Mona Lisa mouthpiece for horses who learned to run through the spade.
                                Even if you used the spade as a leverage bit it would do less damage than most bits people use on a daily basis.
                                Sure you can get a horse to bleed using one but you can do the same with a smooth snaffle.


                                Also hobbles were common because it was (and still is with some) to be of bad manners to lead or ground tie a horse with romal reins. You hobble your horse or use a get down, not take the reins over the head. The reins were not used with scissor clips. We use leather connectors to the chains. The reins were put on the bit every morning, taken off at the end of the day and hung straight.
                                ETA: Forgot to add, there is a time when taking the reins down is acceptable, doctoring cattle, the reins get thrown over the head to the left side, tucked under the headstall and hung on the left ear. Get down is still used to go to the ground to doctor or set your rope.

                                There is a difference between show/cowhorse reins and working reins. Show or cowhorse reins are attached to the bit where as working or more traditional reins are much shorter and are used with rein chains between the bit and reins. The chains are used for a couple reasons, slower signal when the hand is moved giving the horse a chance to pick up the signal before the bit, helps balance the reins to the bit.
                                I think this where most new comers are missing the point of using romal reins they don't understand what and how they are used for. They just think they are "ranchy" as I see them used on bits they were not intended.








                                Last edited by Aces N Eights; Mar. 14, 2019, 10:23 PM.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Well, all very interesting.

                                  We are nowhere near bridle horse country, but have generic western and rodeo riding, though less now locally.

                                  I had no idea there was a mystique or special purpose to romal reins. When I was a kid, either some low end romal reins or closed rolled reins were what you got on show bridles. They were the fashion in 1975 for sure.

                                  Now mecate reins, that's something I realize is specialized.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    [/QUOTE]
                                    There is a difference between show/cowhorse reins and working reins. Show or cowhorse reins are attached to the bit where as working or more traditional reins are much shorter and are used with rein chains between the bit and reins. The chains are used for a couple reasons, slower signal when the hand is moved giving the horse a chance to pick up the signal before the bit, helps balance the reins to the bit.

                                    [/QUOTE]

                                    Above quote from Aces N Eights


                                    Another reason for rein chains for the working horse was that it allowed the rider to water the horse out of a water tank (or similar) and not get the leather portion of the reins wet.

                                    Wow. This is bringing back memories. I still have several pairs of romal reins, one very fancy with the main part of the rein, (not the barrels and balls) actually three separate braids. Still have a collection of the “Californio” old inlaid sterling silver fixed cheek bits. They are beautiful works of art.

                                    How many of us are old enough to remember Luis Ortega? An early master braider and he always had a booth at the Grand National Livestock Horse Show and Rodeo at the Cow Palace in San Francisco (actually Daly City, but they liked the SF address, lol).
                                    Last edited by paint hunter; Mar. 16, 2019, 12:24 AM.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thank you so much for all of the comments. This has been very informative.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20

                                        There is a difference between show/cowhorse reins and working reins. Show or cowhorse reins are attached to the bit where as working or more traditional reins are much shorter and are used with rein chains between the bit and reins. The chains are used for a couple reasons, slower signal when the hand is moved giving the horse a chance to pick up the signal before the bit, helps balance the reins to the bit.



                                        Above quote from Aces N Eights


                                        Another reason for rein chains for the working horse was that it allowed the rider to water the horse out of a water tank (or similar) and not get the leather portion of the reins wet.

                                        Wow. This is bringing back memories. I still have several pairs of romal reins, one very fancy with the main part of the rein, (not the barrels and balls) actually three separate braids. Still have a collection of the “Californio” old inlaid sterling silver fixed cheek bits. They are beautiful works of art.

                                        How many of us are old enough to remember Luis Ortega? An early master braider and he always had a booth at the Grand National Livestock Horse Show and Rodeo at the Cow Palace in San Francisco (actually Day City, but they liked the SF address, lol).

                                        I had big dreams as a kid wanting to show cow horses in the bridle at the Cow Palace! I wanted one of those cool Cow Palace buckles so bad
                                        Luis Ortega stuff is worth a small fortune now...

                                        The reins you have made of multiple braids are called Santa Ynez reins. We have a set, very functional for roping. The reins lay flat through the hand allowing more room for your rope and they have a heavier than normal romal to keep your reins short choked.

                                        And yes, you are right rein chains save your reins from getting soaked in the tank or creek. Again it is good manners, if the horse is packing a spade, to drop your bridle for him to get a drink. But if it is a simpler mouthpiece I don't drop it unless there is a chance of getting something hung up on the edge of the tank.

                                        Comment

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