Use of Draw Reins - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-16-2009, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Use of Draw Reins


My mare and me have been working on trying to achive a nice rounded frame for just about 2 years now. My trainer has now suggested we trying using draw reins as it is not because she does not know how she just does not want to. I can get her into a frame after about 20mins of consitanly asking and then when she feels she does not want to keep the contact she tosses her head up again. When asking her i half halt and use my leg to push her up into the headset.

I would like to know how you attach draw reins for one and if you think it would benefit her. Any other suggestions are welcome.
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post #2 of 6 Old 05-16-2009, 11:19 PM
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You could also try tying her head. Either use a surcingle or the buckles on your girth if you ride western and tie work split reins attached to her bit to the rings. Sorry if that doesn't make sense, I'm horrible at explaining things.
Then you can work on her headset without worrying about riding.

As for draw reins, I just bought a long piece of soft thin rope from a hardware store and 2 snaps. Run the center of the rope over her poll, down through the bit, and tie the 2 loose ends around a snap each. Hook the snaps to either your girth rings between the horse's legs or the breastcollar rings on your saddle, depending on the head height needed. Now pull the rope over the poll back to your saddle like and reins and you are ready to go. Sometimes I need regular reins attached too on green horses that don't understand the draw reins so they don't run through stops. There are a few pictures at this link to get you started. (I just google, "draw reins, horse") Good luck!

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post #3 of 6 Old 05-16-2009, 11:22 PM
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Another technique to try is getting her head in frame and then releasing contact a bit to reward her with the hope that she realizes you will stop pulling when she gives. But you may already be trying this.
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post #4 of 6 Old 05-16-2009, 11:46 PM
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Welcome to the forum, CanadianHorseGal! :)

I would actually respectfully disagree with photocowgirl, and would not suggest draw reins. Draw reins force the head down, but don't truly create a frame. You wouldn't believe how many horses I've seen worked in draw reins where they have a nice headset, yet in the show arena (where draw reins are disallowed), the headset completely disappears. Tying a horse's head down is not only dangerous, its extremely uncomfortable for the horse. You want your horse to frame because you ASK her to, not force her to.

The reason she may not like framing, as you put it, is you may be confusing her with your cues. Make sure you are not constantly playing with her face. I find its easiest to achieve a frame on a bend. So let's say you're doing an inside bend. Apply your inside leg, (not totally abandoning the outside leg) and gently but firmly check and give with your inside rein. The key is REWARDING. When you feel her tuck in her chin and "give to you," give to her immediately. This lets her know that she's doing it right. If you are still asking her AFTER she's begun to frame, she'll probably get fussy and cranky. It's like she's thinking, "but I'm doing it Mom... why do you keep playing with my face??"

Really try not to always play with her face. A true frame doesn't come from fiddling with your reins until she drops her head... a true frame comes from impulsion and lifting of the back. To be able to do this, you must have a balanced seat with the weight evenly distributed throughout your legs. Sit tall and straight, with your legs wrapped around her barrel (not tightly, but firmly). Your legs will summon a frame MUCH MORE than your reins. You can work on this best at a sit trot. As you bring her up to trot, really RIDE the trot. Scoop your butt under and push her forward, FEELING out her movement. Apply pressure from both legs to get her hind end working underneath. Once the hind end is engaged, her back will lift and be strengthened. As you're working on impulsion, apply an inside bend. As she's working underneath herself and tracking up, she should also be softening in your hands as you CHECK and GIVE, always rewarding when she gives to you.

Also-- Make sure to give her break between working with contact. Being in a frame takes muscle, which can only be achieved through impulsion. ALLOW her to get there. Work her in a frame for tiny segments (working up to bigger ones), then take a break. Bring her back to a walk and let her have her head on a long rein. She will love you for this!

Hope this helps!

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Last edited by Jubilee Rose; 05-17-2009 at 12:16 AM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-17-2009, 10:54 PM
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I agree with Jubilee Rose. When a horse has his head lowered and on the vertical it's just as much psychological softness as it is physical softness. It's more than just a body position. When your horse carries himself like that they are acknowledging you as their leader and giving you their complete trust and respect.

It takes time to accomplish this and you can't just hold on to her head and make her stay where you want her. Instead, every time she gives to you and goes into position, stop asking her. Then she'll be more likely to stay in it and more eager to go into it. After she realizes that the instant she does what you want you reward her, then you can have her hold position for 3 seconds then release and do that for awhile. And gradually make it longer as she gets used to it. Does that make sense?

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post #6 of 6 Old 05-18-2009, 02:14 AM
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I third What Jubilee Rose said.

Draw reins can be very dangerous aside from the fact that if you don't introduce the horse to them properly, you can cause a huge wreck. Also, if the horse decides for whatever reason to buck, you are SOL. You can't ask for enough lateral give to get you out of the jam. I know of a trainer who got very badly injured because of draw reins on a horse that bucked.

As for tying the head, ditto on what was said. Anytime you are forcing the horse into any position without any real reward, you're just setting it up for seemingly always needing to use this "trick"'s not a long term and it's not safe and frankly it's not fair to the horse.

REWARD. Where is the release of pressure? Why should your horse leave her head where you want it...if there is no reward of a release of pressure in that frame? takes A LOT I mean A LOT of consistent, correct repetitions to teach a horse to hold her self a certain way. It's not something you can get within a few weeks. It's a process. The horse has to be given time to develop the muscles to hold her neck and head a certain way. If this is forced, the horse can get sore and cranky and rightfully so. Also, it's not healthy to force it. So... take your time.

What's her motivation to listen to your cues for the headset? Give her a motivation, a reason to listen and to giving her a release at the right time....and you will get the headset that will be long lasting. You will get to the point where you just start to ask, and she complies willingly without fighting.

Also, if you don't already use a snaffle...I suggest you use a true training bit for this. plain snaffles (no shanks at all) are good to do this kind of training. You can use the outside rein to ask her to give and the inside rein to massage the tongue to ask her to give. When she gives, even a little release. And ask again. And again she gives. you release and ask again. And as JR comes from the back to the front....your legs should be stronger than your hands which should be light and immediately sensitive to give reward.

You don't want to hold her in any position. If you do this...there is no motivation for her to listen/comply. There's pressure if she doesn't listen, there's pressure if she does,....why should she? Where's the release?

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Calamity Jane; 05-18-2009 at 02:18 AM.
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