I often clean and oil headstalls for people. I have a good method of doing this. I did a ladies this week and gave it back to her on Sunday when she went for a ride with me.
To clean and oil it I take the knot out of the reins. They are long western reins and she likes to knot them.
As we were crossing a field I saw her reknot the reins and warned her that it is a dangerous habit and could lead to trouble.
I hate long heavy western reins but will nide in nothing else for safety reasons.
A one piece rein can become tangled around your body in the even of the horse going head over heals trapping you.
A one piece rein can not be hung onto if the horse bucks or spooks throwing you off.
A one piece rein will not fall to the ground if the horse gets loose. I want the horse to step on the rein and if the rein is heavy enough, the horse trained enough he will ground tie.
Heavy reins cue the horse under their own weight.
Now back to the accident.
We had a nice ride in snow only about 4-6 inches deep but came to a big drift about 4 feet deep but only about 30 feet wide.
I was leading and got off saying I would test it and led Rio. I could walk on the top of the snow but the horse broke through forcing him to struggle.
The big danger was a page wire fence burried in the snow to our left about 10 feet away and an open field right behind the fence. If the horse lunged in that direction it would become entangled in this wire fence.
I had no problems and when my lady friend saw the way the horse was forced to struggle she agree to get off and lead her horse.
Her reins are knotted.
She fell down almost immediately and the horse in his lung in the deep snow put his FRONT leg through the loop, no big deal but he make a second lung and put his hind leg through the loop and the knot caught around this hind fetlock. As his hind foot broke through the crust allowing his leg to drop deep in the snow the reins pulled tight forcing his head down into the snow. So here he was trapped with his hind foot pulling his head down hard against his chest which at the same time was burried in the deep snow.
The only thing that saved her was her good horse. He did try lunging to his left, the open field, the one blocked by the burried wire fence but he stopped short by his own pull of the reins.
She frantically tried lifting his foot to free the reins but that was impossible. She ended up digging down with her hands to get to the knot, unknotting it and freeing the horse. How many horse would hold still for that?? Head pulled down into the snow while he patiently waited for his mom to dig down in the snow and struggle with a knot??????
It might only happen once in a life time or it might never happen but I always always ride now with free long reins.
For many years I rode in one piece gaming reins and had my horse go head over heals many times on the thousands of miles we covered but he always just stood and waited.
I won't risk another horse to gaming reins while running trail
The lady now understands why I suggest open reins.
Hope it never happens to you.