Riding with side reins... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-25-2009, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Riding with side reins...

Okay, so I've been lungeing Pyro in side reins for the past 3 weeks, and he seems to be doing okay... but he doesn't give, he always has sweat marks from the bit whenever I take the side reins off.

He does perfect when riding and asking him to collect and be on the bit... he just doesn't give to the side reins.
I was thinking of riding with them on, but I don't know if thats a good idea...

what do you guys think?
any other suggestion besides that?

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post #2 of 12 Old 02-25-2009, 02:16 PM
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You may have the reins too short for his level of fitness and training.and no, don't ride with them.

The difference in riding him vs side reins, is usually riders forget to keep asking for a constant "give" You ask, he gives, you stop asking, go on and do something else, then you ask another time, and he responds. Side reins never quit asking if he relaxes again, they ask again at that same spot. It's also hard on muscles that flex the poll, he doesn't normally walk around with his nose vertical, does he? For side reins, initially, just use them in short bursts, for a few rounds this way, and maybe a little longer length than you want at first. As long as they make contact if he's relaxed, but not cranking his head back behind the vertical, he's still learning. If you over-shorten them, he gets very tired and feels trapped, and you can actually teach him to LEAN into the bit.He needs to be able to find that release.
A good guide, until he's more fit, is to rein him back for a few laps, and the adjustment should start with if you have the rein unattatched, the side rein would reach about to the throatlatch area, then snap it to his bit. When he's longed, have the "outside" rein a tiny bit longer so he can flex into the curve of the circle. When changing direction, change it. This also avoids the nutcracker effect of a jointed snaffle bit, by making the pressure slightly uneven. Initially, just a few laps, at gait of your choice. When he's softening up, stop and detach the reins, let him move out uninhibited, then re attatch. This reffrims in his mind he's doing right, and lets him stretch his muscles. Don't forget to change directions and repeat. He'll be softer on one side, and that's the side you should work more in general (I ususally start on their stiff side, then work on the "good" side,then end with the stiff again, to work it more for eveness). You can tell if he's really giving or is "held" back by the lack of tension in the reins. If the reins are taught, he's not really giving. And a frothy mouth does not necessarily indicate he's fighting it, just that his mouth is active and slobbery, but if that's not normal for your horse, then he's probably leaning on the bit and not really giving.
When you ride, work on asking for the give and keep him in it for extending numbers of strides. As his neck becomes conditioned for it, he will find it easier to hold longer before you ask again, and his neck will LOOK different (and prettier!)
Do not ride in sidereins. They could interfere with your abiltity to steer your horse in an emergency. If you need to do an emergency one-rein stop, he can't turn his head around and will fight you harder.

Last edited by barefoothooves; 02-25-2009 at 02:18 PM.
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post #3 of 12 Old 02-25-2009, 04:45 PM
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i agree! DO NOT RIDE IN SIDE REINS! thats wayyy to dangerous!
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post #4 of 12 Old 02-25-2009, 04:47 PM
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what you could do is take draw reigns and instead of running them underneath his front legs and attaching to the girth, you can run them outside and attache them at the sides of the girth... that may help....You can do it with bungees too...

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post #5 of 12 Old 02-25-2009, 04:51 PM
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I have to agree with the suggestion of draw reins over side reins based on the dangers....riding with side reins gives you no way to release/adjust if the horse flips out for some reason or another.

Furthermore, if the horse is longing in side reins but not giving to the bit I feel you are likely using the side reins wrong. It's very hard to longe properly imo with side reins b/c you really need to keep adjusting them as the horse relaxes into the bit. Too tight and all you're effectively teaching your horse to do is brace/lean on the bit. Too loose that the horse doesn't respond is a waste. I've had some luck with varying the reins - starting looser, tightening as the horse warms up, then loosening as the horse learns what is expected. I will also at times use a single rein between the legs loosely to encourage the head down (need to make sure not so loose it can get tangled on the horse's legs, but not so tight that it forces a false frame).

Also remember that longing shouldn't be done for more than 30m at a time - less if the horse is newer to this work - as it puts a lot of strain on the horse.

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post #6 of 12 Old 02-25-2009, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys!
I've seen some people at the stables riding in them, but not very often, which I can see why. I've been doing it for three weeks now, and finally to the point where his head is at the vertical. I usually ride after lounging, so I'm not sure if its FROM the side reins or just for having the bit in his mouth for a long period of time(its not foam, its sweat, like the kind of sweat whenever you take the saddle pad off). It's hard to tell if he's REALLY fighting it, or if he's just trying to figure it out. He's an ex-race horse, so he's not used to collecting. I'm not using them wrong either, I've had my trainer check them and she said they are fine. I let him run around w/out them until he's warmed up and then I go to the side reins... and i don't lounge for more than 10-15mins on one side.
I'll see how he does when I lounge him today and get a video or something.
He does REALLY well under saddle and he's very smart. I might try the things you suggested, like the bungee or draw reins, and see if that helps.

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post #7 of 12 Old 02-25-2009, 06:51 PM
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I've ridden my horse in side reigns before. I only did this a week, and it was when we were working on certian flexing exercises.
Side reigns do give. If you set them properly, once the horse's nose is on the vertical, it will be relaxed, versus when he raises his head it tightens.
If you do choose to Ride in the side reigns, only do so for short periods, and always take them off and ride normally before you finish your session. You want the horse to mentally link the two actions and results.
I dont recommend riding in side reigns for long periods of time or as a solution to any problem. They are a tool, not a vice or solution.
In your situation, the horse will flex and give, so in my opinion riding with side reigns for short periods, may help your horse link collection and giving with the side reigns.
The problem with side reigns is that many riders become dependent on them, and the horse is responding to the side reigns instead of the reiders cues. Your horse responds to you, just wont respond to the side reigns.
Another solution may be to work the horse in some sort of martingale when you're lunging. Many horse's respond well in a martingale. Mine is fond of the Running Martingale.

Another option. Try loosening the side reigns. As said, they may be much too much for his fitness level and be straining.

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post #8 of 12 Old 02-27-2009, 04:43 AM
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WTF... who said side reins go between the horses legs? thats soooo bad.
and no dont ride in them, if you feel you must ride in them attatch them to the D rings on the saddle using quick release clips.
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-27-2009, 05:04 AM
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Well.. I'm a friend of sidereins for "beginners" (not meaning just learning to ride). If you can't make your horse relax his back/neck on your own, I think sidereins help the horse keep a good balance and have contact to the bit. The rider isn't alway fiddeling with the reins, bothering the horse.
BUT that is only the case when sidereins are being used properly (not as tool to get the head into the correct place..) And they have to be exactly the right length! To short, means the horse is dealing with a constant pull, which will make the muscels tense up AND will the the horses movements "backword" (hmm.. can't think of how to say it better) and will make the horse go behind the bit.
To long side reins are jiggeling while the horse is moving all the time, which isn't very friendly to the horses mouth, plus can't help the horses balance..

Riding with drawreins is better then riding with sidereins... Well that also really depends on how well you ride. But if he's doing well when you ride (collects!?) why do you want to use "helpreins" in the first place.. there is always risks when riding with them. Just use them for a short time for correction, but not just for fun or something.
I find drawreins are missused ALOT. You can just pull the horses head down without really noticing what your doing. Sure you can give better.. but you can also tug alot harder then If you just have sidereins on.
And if your talking about getting your horses head into the correct place.. I woudn't use drawreins! You can really damage your horse and your riding with it..
Okay could rant about drawreins forever...
But just check your sidereins again.. are you sure they aren't to short (plus do you have rubber rings in them that give some? ) ? And if your doing well when riding.. just leave all the extra off... the more baggage you add on the worse your riding gets (thats what I feel like)
Good luck!
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post #10 of 12 Old 02-27-2009, 05:21 AM
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I am also wondering why you would want to ride in them if you say the horse works perfectly without them. :S
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