If I'm riding Isabella, and she is the gentlest horse I know, then I let go because I know she isn't going anywhere. With Storm I let go, because I know that if I didn't he would take that as an opportunity to walk over the top of me. With my Arab, Bacardi, I held on because he was not the most intelligent horse and he probs would have walked onto a road or something =S
I would say that for the rider's safety it is always preferable to let go and be more free of getting tangled, stepped on or dragged... but for the horse's safety in some situations it is better to hold on if you can.
I, like most others don't usually have the chance to think about what I'm going to do with my reins when I fall off... but usually I let go because of that instinct not to want to be tangled up in everything.
When I started riding I was always afraid of the horses running off if I let go, but after riding our mares for years, I realized they won't go anywhere. As a matter of fact, they just turn around and look down at me with a "What are you doing on the ground?" look and start grazing.
I noticed this too. However, I've only fallen once and it was bareback on a fat horse.. She took off, so I tried grabbing more of her neck instead of the reins because when she tried getting too fast, she'd slow down. Well, she didn't that time and I slid off with my arms wrapped around her neck. I was loped over. I agree with PaintHorse. The mare just stopped and when I opened my eyes, I was under her belly and she looked down like "what are you doing?"
I dunno. Now I wonder what I'd do if I fell again..
Wow a bunch of different answers(i kinda expected that) for me it's always been my natural instinct to just let go....I honestly thought it was an english thing because all of my friends who ride english don't let go and it scares the heck out of me. And a lot of the riders that do it are in arenas so I don't know why they wouldn't let go the horse really can't go anywhere.
Also, keep in mind that in most of the English fall videos and such a lot of the falls are jump refusals; completely unexpected, so you don't have time to think about dropping the reins. Posted via Mobile Device
I always try to hang on because if a horse gets me off, then they are likely a green horse that I would just as soon not have running around loose. Plus, I want to get right back on if I am able to. IMHO, if you are able to hang onto the reins on a green horse, then it helps to teach them that if the rider falls, they are still not welcome to just run free, they need to stay close by. I am not terribly concerned about hurting their mouth because them hitting the end of the rein with me holding it would hurt them less than them stepping on a rein as they were running away full tilt. BTW, I always ride with leather split reins that have water tie ends.
The only thing that would concern me about english riders clinging to the reins is that they all ride with single reins and if you hang on, then both sides of the bit get yanked on and that creates a greater chance of the horse coming over on top of you. At least when I fall, the rein that I hold on to just tells the horse to face up toward me.