Proper Use of Draw Reins
I have always been told to set up draw reins by clipping them to the center of the girth between the horses front legs, then through the bit, and then up to my hands. I always do it this way. But a new girl (Who I absolutely cannot stand... she knows everything, like shes practically God *rolls my eyes*) corrected me on their use. She told me to attach them to the girth at the buckles, then to the bit, and then up to my hands, so that they are on the outside, not going between the legs. I have always known this to just make the horse bring in his head to his chest, not to stretch down. I also believe it makes them heavier on the hands. Am I correct??? If not I'd actually like to know, if I am, well I'll be happy doing what I always do.
I have seen draw reins used both ways. I think that the way you do them is probably the more classic and commonly used method. The way the other girl does it is a bit more like side reins that you might use with lunging. In this case, I don't think that there is one right or wrong way---your way probably does encourage a bit more of the stretch down that you mentioned while her way may give you a little more control of the shoulders.
I've always felt that connecting the draw reins to the center of the girth as you do tends to allow some horses to improperly over-flex. That's my opinion though...
I've also seen it done both ways I don't think either is "incorrect" I believe in certain situations with certain horses one or the other is a better option... Though, I would say if either is forcing a horse to bring his head to his chest or stretch down they're being used improperly.
I hate using draw reins. They are typically part of riding a horse front to back.. and don't help a horse to learn to curl his hindquarters under himself to raise his back and lighten his forehand. I never would attach them by going through the front legs. Ever. If I were to use them I would attach them as this girl suggests.
If you need draw reins on a horse, then you probably need to rethink your training and riding (JMO). A horse should learn to drop his head from being driven forward first and then asked to drop his head with a half halt. Most horses cannot do this until they first build abdominal strength so they can curl their rear end under themselves, raise their backs and raise the root of the neck.
It is a long process to get this going and requires riding 5-6 days a week. You need to get out of the arena and trot up hills with you standing in your stirrups and the horse on a loose rein (this will allow the horse to drop his head and lean into the hill.. and build abdominal muscles). Trotting over caveletti 12 inches off the ground will help too (you have to train up to this).
I think I've only ever used draw reins 5 times total in my life ever, I just don't like them. Plus I've never seen a horse actually act comfortable in them, so why make them uncomfortable? The point of a rider is to enhance the horses natural abilities, not by yanking their face between their legs... Anyways... Thank you for clearing that up for me :)
Some people snap them to the breast plate so that if they are jumping they are clear of the legs, and are easy to take on and off without getting off.
Most people are just cranking the head in with them and leaving the hindquarters a mile behind no matter how they are set up. They are pretty high up on the "misused by the incompetant tools" list.
If you haven't seen a horse comfortable in them, then why continue using them?
Correct training is what develops and enhances a horse's natural abilities, as well as turning their weaknesses into strengths.
Wherever you buckle them, they encourage a horse to come behind the contact thus bracing the base of the neck and at the 3rd vertebra, building incorrect muscling and making it very hard for the poor person who has to try and ride the horse up to a contact later on.
I also hope that if you insist on using them, that you are not using them as the sole pair of reins. They should be used as a second rein only with no contact unless the horse starts to invert its neck. Using them as the sole rein cannot to ANYTHING but discourage the horse from taking a contact.
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In polo, those of us who use draw reins use them as the girl describes. But, that is not the only or correct way of using them. Do what works for you and your horse. Our horses are not made to over flex by the use of draw reins.
To know it alls and other disagreeable people, I am old enough to get away with smiling and saying, "Aw, you just need to get out more."
I haven't ridden in draw reins very much but have seen it both ways. My trainer had me ride my gelding in them for a couple of lessons.She uses them on the outside,so it allows horse more freedom to use their shoulders:-).
If your horse is overflexing & bringing his head into his chest then you shouldn't be riding in them:-( You shouldn't be using them to trying to pull them into frame:-(.
I found Because I has not very familiar with using them I was scared to pull on them because I was afraid that is what I would be doing pulling his face in. It wasn't that bad & actually I found I was more aware to maintain by hand contact light & it had me driving him up more into contact:wink:.
Agree that there way to much misuse of them & not for your average rider to be trying out:-|.
I know until I felt I was more confident in using them I will not be trying them out on my horses for schooling without supervision/coaching.
When I took a lunge lesson with Felicitas von Neumann-Cosel she had draw reins on the horse I rode attached to the girth the way the girl has said. I don't use draw reins and I don't particularly like them, so I couldn't tell you what the right way is. However, I'm sure with different disciplines there are different methods. Felicitas is a very well respected high level dressage trainer, so I'm sure she knows what she's doing.
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