Side reins and lunging? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-18-2012, 01:26 AM Thread Starter
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Side reins and lunging?

I have a 10-year-old QH mare who needs a lot of help with balance and collection. Very soft mouth and willing girl and I'm about to take dressage lessons with a good instructor..however, cannot start till August. The woman who runs my barn suggested I lunge her in side reins to help her learn to collect and strengthen her...and she offered to help me. I don't know the barn manager's experience with this type of thing (I'm new and she is very old school with her approach so far!)..and I'm a bit concerned about proceeding.

Any thoughts on side reins for this purpose?
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-18-2012, 02:13 AM
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If this person has some good experience , then your horse may get some benefit from lunging in such. Needs to be done correctly. Hopefully, old school means has good knowledge and experience.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-18-2012, 10:30 AM
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Very few people know how to use sidereins properly. They put them on and the horse looks collected, but really they're tense in the back and neck and hollow as well, and most are behind the bit.
You're much better off just learning to be in balance together when you get a dressage trainer.
And do realize that there isn't just one dressage trainer around. Go on craigslist or anywhere and I'm sure you can find a decent dressage trainer to do a few lessons with.
Also, your horse doesn't need collection. She needs balance.
If you really want to help the horse, start free lungeing her. You can do it even in an arena. It just takes more effort. You ought to get the horse to stay pretty close to you and walk/trot/canter on demand in a calm manner.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-18-2012, 10:53 AM
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I've known multiple horror stories involving side reins - mainly involving the horse feeling trapped, rearing, flipping and in a number of cases smashing its head or breaking its neck. More often, the horses just end up overbent with their hind legs trailing out behind.

Advanced bit of equipment that can be helpful in experienced hands if applied correctly but too much can go wrong IMHO.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-18-2012, 05:01 PM
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I find side reins to be a very useful tool. As other posters stated in the wrong hands they can be very harmful, look at this picture for example:

Obviously that's not what you're going for. When properly adjusted side reins should only come in contact with the horse's mouth when the head is in front of the vertical. Here's a picture of what I consider to be the correct adjustment, straight from the Pony Club manual:

Side reins allow the horse to have something to "lean" on. They are tools for developing better balance and muscle. They are intended to simulate the actions of a rider's hands and arms. Without side reins or some other similar apparatus I feel that longeing can only be for blowing off excess energy, not for training. Side reins facilitate proper movement in a horse, with them on horses are encouraged to seek out a connection and work over their topline. That is why longeing is great for bringing a horse back into work as it allows the horse to strengthen their muscles before having to carry a rider. Since you're inexperienced, I'd recommend that you try this with an experienced person who can help you out. I'll try anything (so long as it's not blatantly harmful) once. You can't tell what will or won't work on a particular horse until you try.

I hope that helps you, looking back I realize that I've practically written a novel...sorry.
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-18-2012, 05:08 PM
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i did some work for my friends mom and i used sidereins for her Derssage horse from germany, she stopped ridding for 3 years and wanted to work with him again, it really helped getting him back into work he is 18 ( i think). i really want to get some for my Paint gelding that needs a topline and he needs one. hes a tall horse that was started to slow, and needs to get worked more and i will be using them when i get them to help him. also my friend uses them to build up muscles for her barrel horse that got hurt and needed to build up muscle and work again it helped a lot.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-19-2012, 04:10 AM
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I vote don't use side reins. I've trained horses through to top level dressage, and although it's something I learned how to use as a working pupil I've never used them again since. I always feel its a cheap way of training.
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-19-2012, 07:29 AM
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IF you know how to use them - may be (even though I'm not a fan). If not - better wait for the lessons (August is just 2 weeks away :) ).
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-20-2012, 12:36 AM
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I vote don't use them. I just met a horse who has taught himself that rein pressure means tuck your chin and go faster thanks to side reins improperly used. Every time his student riders pulled back on the reins he'd pick up his gait and go further and further behind the vertical.
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