Introducing side reins - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-29-2012, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Red face Introducing side reins

I have always been more confident in the saddle than on the ground when it comes to horses. I want to incorporate some side rein lunging for my horse to help condition her topline this summer.

I have tried introducing side reins on her before, and I took the advice of keeping them very long to being with. I worked up to tightening the reins just enough so that there was a light contact with her mouth when her head was at rest (still fairly long).

What I am seeing is that she does not want to work into the bit. She does not want to keep a steady contact with the reins and will overcurl in order to keep the reins loose. It is much more difficult to get her moving from her hind end on the lunge since I do not have my leg and seat aids. My attempts to push her forward into the bit only result in her speeding up rather than pushing through.

I don't want to crank her neck in just to achieve this contact as it will not be a true contact and will do nothing for her topline. But I am not very good with lunging (and neither is my horse) to begin with and need some guidance.

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post #2 of 12 Old 06-29-2012, 11:31 AM
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Sounds like side reins will not work for her.

And perhaps you need to revise the bit. Some horses don't like plain snaffles or gags or three link bits. You need to find one that she feels comfortable in.

She could not like contact because of past associations or how it has been introduced to her.

Honestly I keep my side reins really long for my horse, only recent did I shorten them but it didn't not force him into anything, just created a different feel.

Has she ever been ridden with contact before?

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #3 of 12 Old 06-29-2012, 05:02 PM
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First, side reins don't always work for every horse. My ottb does the same thing and her top line is coming along very nicely. I lounge her with fairly lose side reins to allow her to properly bend and put her on a hill. Lounging her on the hill makes her come through her back into the bridle. ( not to mention will make her a ton more balanced) note: make sure you keep your horse slow and at a consistent speed down and up the hill this will make it truly work. Hope this helps!
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post #4 of 12 Old 06-29-2012, 08:37 PM
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imo, long reining is the way to go, i really dislike side reins. long reining gives you the opportunity to be the rider on the ground and achieve what you are wanting to with this horse.

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post #5 of 12 Old 07-01-2012, 12:14 AM
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Idk long lining isn't always the way to create proper work. It's very easy to create a false frame when you long line or lone rein.
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post #6 of 12 Old 07-01-2012, 12:17 AM
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Honestly every horse functions differently, learns differently.

My horse did well in side reins. I think long lining is another good method but it usually requires a little more planning out and the horse can get tangled up if the handler isn't paying attention or communication isn't being achieved.

But like I said, I don't gather she needs side reins from what you've told us. But you can definitely give it a try. Just send her forward forward forward when she's in them. Having the lungeline snapped on helps to give cues like rough halfhalts or keep them on a particular sized circle.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #7 of 12 Old 07-03-2012, 06:03 PM
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I personally don't like sidereins. They encourage a hollowed back and tense muscles, which actually hurt the topline. It's also hard for the horse to turn properly.
Even just regular lungeing has some difficulties, since you tugging on the line throws the horse off balance and creates tension. Even the weight of the line creates tension.
Just work the horse over poles free lungeing. Raised poles are even better. If he's working in a calm, relaxed manner, he'll start to develop a lovely topline. If you let him tear around with his head in the air like a giraffe, well, that's not helping anything either.
Remember that when a horse works correctly, he automatically drops his head. I've never had an issue getting a horse to work properly while free lungeing. It just takes some training.
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-03-2012, 08:53 PM
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Rascalboy, you'd better come over and let my gelding know that sidereins create a hollowed back and tension through the neck... and that that lunging in general causes tension.
He lunges beautifully in sidereins. Sidereins provide a contact for the horse - if they are at a level under saddle, of understanding how to work into a contact, then side reins are very beneficial - if you know how to use them. Lunged with no contact, a horse will often run out through the outside shoulder, drop the inside shoulder, counter bend and/or flex, become crooked and also 'leg movers'.
Add some light contact, and you'll find a well trained horse with a well trained lunger, will immediately seek that contact, swing the back, come straight, and in correct bend and flexion. We're not asking a horse on the lunge to work on a square with tight corners, so thats an invalid argument.

Horses for courses - I ride dressage horses, and work them as such. If you're a pleasure rider or don't require your horse to work freely over the back and develop pushing power into a contact, then obviously you're going to have differing methods.
Free lunging I find good to use occassionally for the horse to have a bit of a play. Otherwise I prefer to work the horse as I would expect it to work under saddle. Into a contact, over its back and travelling straight.
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-03-2012, 08:59 PM
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Thank you Kayty...

Rascalboy, just because one horse or a few OTTB of yours didn't understand how side reins worked, doesn't mean it goes for all horses.

Plus don't OTTB think that contact means to increase speed? I think MyBoyPuck mentioned that to me once.. so of course the retraining for that kind of horse is different from teaching a green or in need of a tune up horse.

Please don't misinform people on the forums. Side reins are very helpful, when they are adjusted properly. And like all tools, should not be constantly used.
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"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-05-2012, 03:36 PM
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It is very important to take lessons on longeing before doing it, especially if you say you aren't very good at it and your horse isn't good at it. Find an instructor to walk you through it and give you input.

You need to have the correct equipment for longeing. A stiff caveson, surcingle, side reins, 35' longe line, and a long longe whip. Start out with just the caveson and longe line. The horse should start out next to you and move away when you ask. You should feed the line out to the horse, keeping contact the entire time...just like in the saddle...the line should never be slack. You should be able to flex your fingers and influence the horse, helping to rebalance and correct as necessary, without having to take up slack to get there.

Until your horse will longe on a taut line do not try side reins. Keep the horse forward and away from you with the should be long enough that you can flick the horse with the whip at any moment to back up your voice aids. Otherwise reel the horse in so that it is making a smaller circle.

Practice half halting the horse, flex your fingers quickly and release to give small tugs when the horse bends away from you or gets strung out. Use your voice/whip to keep the horse moving forward with impulsion.

Once your horse will longe on a taut line and respond to half halts you can introduce the side reins...using them on the caveson, not the bit. You may need to get sliding side reins since your horse likes to suck back. You'll definitely want an instructor to help you with those, they can be tricky to get situated and adjusted correctly.
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