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Side Reins: Your general opinions appreciated

This is a discussion on Side Reins: Your general opinions appreciated within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

     
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        02-15-2010, 09:23 PM
      #21
    Super Moderator
    I rarely lunge a horse and almost never use side reins. When beginning a horse's training, I will ground drive and long rein. I do not want a horse coming against an unyielding "hand" as a side rein will present. A horse will have MY hand to listen to, even long before they are backed. BUT, that is because I know how to drive well. Most people do not. I would rather see people lunge with side reins than attempt to drive poorly.

    I also never lunge "to get the bucks out". I get on and direct their freshness and exuberance into the job they are being asked to do. If they buck, I persevere until they do the job asked better. Then they are well praised. I teach the horse to want to do what is asked that way. Lunging allows the horse wander without good direction, IMO.
         
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        02-15-2010, 09:34 PM
      #22
    Trained
    Certain Alison, I 100% agree with you about lunging to get the bucks out. A very pointless exercise unless you are a newbie nervous rider and doing it for peace of mind, however I find lunging to 'get the bucks out' tends to make them get the impression that every time they are lunged it is 'play time'.

    However, I don't think that lunging allows the horse to wander without good direction, IF being lunged for a reason. Yes, you see many people lunging endless circles without a real purpose in mind.. just because they feel like it or feel as though lunging prior to a ride is necessary.
    I lunge my horses when I am lacking the time to ride, or recovering from an injury/illness, or when I just want to see whether the horse has come sound after some time off.
    I lunge with a purpose, I demand that the hind legs be working actively behind, the back must be swinging and there must be a steady contact into the bridle, the horse is straight, forward and correct. I lunge a horse how I like them to go under saddle, soft forward and swinging. I do not see how this is wandering without good direction when it is clearly benifiting the education and balance of the horse.

    As for young horses/breakers, totally different story and like you I much prefer long reining. I believe that side reins should not be used until the horse has established a contact under saddle and has learnt to work over his back into the bridle, only then are 2 side reins introduced for lunging.
         
        02-15-2010, 09:37 PM
      #23
    Started
    I do not "lunge" my horse "normally." ;)
         
        02-16-2010, 01:51 PM
      #24
    Weanling
    This thread got me thinking: what's the difference between riding with a fixed hand and lunging with fixed reins?

    Although I do lunge, I'm beginning to think it does very little to help teach the rounding, and coming under, that one seeks while riding: there's no weight on the horse's back.

    As for seeking the bit, my method is, initially, to take a contact, ask for a yield, and then give it back. That's impossible with a fixed rein. On the lunge, is the horse actually seeking the bit, or learning he can lean on it?
         
        02-16-2010, 02:13 PM
      #25
    Banned
    ^^I think as long as you don't jack up the side reins too short, and there is some swing to them, it gives the horse the option of coming up in to contact.

    As for rounding the back out, I would most certainly want to warm up a horse to using their back muscles without the weight of tack and rider.
         
        02-16-2010, 08:08 PM
      #26
    Trained
    You don't need the weight of a rider on a horses back to get them seeking the rein. Have a look at the horses in the Spanish riding school. They are all worked in side reins without a rider and look at the astonishing levels of collection they achieve.

    Of course you will teach a horse to lean on the rein or back off it in side reins if you don't know how to use them efficiently. Hence my constant emphasis on 'experienced' rider/handlers knowing how to use the reins, what they want to achieve from their use and how exactly they work.
    People seem to be under the impression side reins are their to crank the head in and that's it. That is an extremely misguided and uneducated idea.
    Side reins should be adjusted to a length that has a small amount of slack in them when the horse is working just in front of the vertical (if the horse is at a level where they know how to work on the bit and in the early stages of collection, for young/green horses of course you will let the reins out longer to get the neck stretch). From that, you MUST drive the hind legs, expect them to really motor along and take their weight on the hind legs. Exactly the same principals apply on the lunge as they do under saddle. You want the hind legs to be driven forward, transferring energy over the back which in turns begins to soften and 'swing', and up over the neck and through to the bridle, thus taking a steady, but relaxed contact with the bit. If you don't drive the hind legs, then of course the horse is going to fall on the forehand and lean on the reins. If he is working powerfully from driving hind legs, his forehand will soften and he will not learn to rely on the reins for support.

    AGain I refer to my initial post. How (if you are a dressage/flat rider who knows about outside rein connection, straightness, throughness etc. ) do you lunge your horse and maintain a connection to the bit, a straight body, swinging back with not outside rein contact? Unless the horse is highly trained under saddle and works naturally straight, or he is a saint, the energy you create in the hind legs will flow straight out through the outside, or inside shoulder, without an outside rein to contain the flow of energy, thus creating a crooked horse who has now found a good evasion to use under saddle.
         
        02-19-2010, 03:22 PM
      #27
    Foal
    I agree, especially with an inexperienced users, that side reins will make a horse heavy as they are fixed. They have no feel and cannot reward the horse like a hand can. Yes, the horse can 'find his own release,' but some horses will find it quite acceptable to let the side rein 'hold' them. Horses are lazy by nature and if they find that someone or something will do the work, they will lay on that someone or something all day.
         
        02-19-2010, 04:39 PM
      #28
    Weanling
    When used correctly side reins are great for "explaining" to the horse how they should engage their hindquarters and come over their back.

    1.) Start with them long and as horse develops muscle and become more engaged (years) you can shorten them to mimic the shorter rein you'll be riding in.
    2.) You must always use the whip to keep the rear end (engine) engaged. If horse is not stepping underneath iteself at trot and canter (even if it's going fast) then use the whip to drive the horse more forward. Trick to telling is if hind legs seems to be quite a bit behind it's butt horse is not truely forward - even if they're running. Another way I prefer to use is if I ask for a transition and it takes a few steps (walk to canter and I get trot steps, or walk to trot and I get a few bigger walk or smaller trot steps) then horses is not engaged behind and you need the whip to encourage them forward.
    3.) If horse likes to drop onto forehand (neck low) attach side reins up as high as possible, if they like to brace and hollow attach them as low as possible.
    4.) Un-snap side reins quite often so horse can stretch it's nose down and stretch out it's back (just as if you were riding and giving the horse walk breaks on a long rein).
    Suggest your trainer watch you lunge a bit and comment on what if anything you need to change in using them.
         
        02-19-2010, 05:26 PM
      #29
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Valentina    
    When used correctly side reins are great for "explaining" to the horse how they should engage their hindquarters and come over their back.

    1.) Start with them long and as horse develops muscle and become more engaged (years) you can shorten them to mimic the shorter rein you'll be riding in.
    2.) You must always use the whip to keep the rear end (engine) engaged. If horse is not stepping underneath iteself at trot and canter (even if it's going fast) then use the whip to drive the horse more forward. Trick to telling is if hind legs seems to be quite a bit behind it's butt horse is not truely forward - even if they're running. Another way I prefer to use is if I ask for a transition and it takes a few steps (walk to canter and I get trot steps, or walk to trot and I get a few bigger walk or smaller trot steps) then horses is not engaged behind and you need the whip to encourage them forward.
    3.) If horse likes to drop onto forehand (neck low) attach side reins up as high as possible, if they like to brace and hollow attach them as low as possible.
    4.) Un-snap side reins quite often so horse can stretch it's nose down and stretch out it's back (just as if you were riding and giving the horse walk breaks on a long rein).
    Suggest your trainer watch you lunge a bit and comment on what if anything you need to change in using them.
    thankyou!!
         
        02-20-2010, 10:05 AM
      #30
    Weanling
    Thank you for all your posts. It's so nice to have kept the thread so constructive, full of different opinions but maintaining civility. I have been using the side reins solidly for about a week now. The footing in my arena is really undesirable but progress has been made. I usually lunge her without them, snap them on for a bit, then unsnap them. They will be loose for a while longer before I shorten them up some. I notice more engagement when I've just finished lungeing with them on, snap them off and ask her to trot. Her trot actually looks a little better than when the side reins are off but I have just finished using them, if that makes any sense. I don't use side reins with canter work but I have been asking her for canter from a walk a while before we started using them and she would spring up into a trot, then canter. Just this week she picked up the canter from a walk, and although she appeared slightly unsure, I was very pleased, and wondered if the side reins had helped her with that. Her headset doesn't show too great an improvement in the trot, I mean there is definitely a difference but it is not as dramatic as the change I have noticed in her headset in the canter. It has actually dropped down quite a bit in the canter, she looks smoother, more relaxed and round. She actually corrected her lead a couple times, which I had never seen her do on her own on the lunge when she's picked up the wrong one before. I've spent a great deal of time just concentrating on driving her out on the circle, so I have mainly pointed the whip at her shoulder to try and keep her out. She has seemed to have got the point about maintaining her distance from me. With the side reins, I have to drive her a bit more so I'm slightly closer to her hind with the whip pointed at her hindquarters, and the results have definitely begun to show.

    Thanks for your feedback.
         

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