Split reins - pros & cons, what is the proper use - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Split reins - pros & cons, what is the proper use

I've ridden for the last 5+ years with a 10' long single loop of rope:

About a year ago, I bought some leather split reins which I never tried. Well, tried them this afternoon. I think I might like them if I get used to them. But for those who have used them, or did use them:

What are the advantages or disadvantages?

Did you have both ends on one side of the horse, or one end hanging on either side?

Are 8' split reins too long for a 15.2 mare? They sure seemed to dangle a long ways down, although I was pleased that Mia showed no concern for the things flopping around her front legs.

I have no opinion at all, so I'm very open to advice. FWIW, she did seem more responsive to neck reining with the leather.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #2 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 09:04 PM
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FINALLY! I get to offer YOU advice! hahhahaha

I rode in split reins before switching to English. First, they do hang down quite a ways. If they are hitting the hock they may be too long, but they definitely go past the elbow.

If you are direct reining or two-hand reining, I suggest you take the left rein over the neck and off the right. Right rein over the neck and to the left. Hold the two reins in each hand just as you would a single loop. I liked to have about 12" of slack centered between my two hands.

If you are neck reining you can do the same thing, only now one hand centered over the withers OR let both ends hang off the same side of the horse, your preference. I would do this and then carry some of the hanging slack in my spare hand (to give it something to do and because I thought I looked cool and calm.)

I uploaded a photo of me in my new English saddle trail riding.... I have the reins slack and off to the same side. They are almost at the hock, but when we begin moving I know I gather more up so they are not that low.

i think it is in the review of my new saddle (wintec 200 AP). i would repost it, but my iPad has a hard time adding photos to existing threads.

Now, the WHY. an old cowboy once told me that having the single loop was not as safe as two reins. Eh. not sure if I buy that anymore (I am no longer THAT green) but, having two reins is sort of handy.

You can jib a horse on one of the reins if he is acting stoopid on a trail.
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post #3 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 09:06 PM
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when i use split reins i have one on each side. my mare has them dangling around her knees so unless she is walking on them i wouldnt worry. as for pros and cons im not sure as i dont use them much
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post #4 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 09:10 PM
Green Broke
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From my perspective the biggies are, on the trail, split reins won't tangle in a horse's legs the way looped reins would should the horse go off on its own; the long reins make it easier for the rider when the horse puts its head down for a drink as they allow the rider to stay in position rather than stretching forward as happens with a looped rein. I've never had occasion to test this (thankfully) but I should think if you come off your horse unexpectedly, the extra length might help to keep hold of your horse safely.

I have a tendency to cross the reins over and have them on either side of the neck which is fine for casual riding but not the show ring and probably not if you're roping.

I prefer 8 ft rein lengths (I think I've got one set that is close to 9 ft). If you've ever tried those short ones that come with a bridle (I think they are not much more than 6 ft) you get the feeling the ends could slip right out of your hands if the horse sneezes.
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post #5 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 09:42 PM
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I like split reins, but I'm a little particular about the kind. I love the harness leather ones with weighted ends, they have a nicer feel in my opinion. I ride one handed with the ends on opposite sides as well.

My horses tend to be a little on the lazy side. The split reins provide wonderful "encouragement" if needed every once and a while.

I think my Mia is very similar to yours. She's also a bay and acts just like yours... If your Mia took a dozen horse sleeping pills, stayed awake for 100 hours straight and ran 1,000 mile marathon... backwards. Then you would have my mare. She's like a big couch that eats and occasionally wakes up long enough to wander around on trails with me. Needless to say, I love my split reins.
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post #6 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 10:12 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Middle of Nowhere, Saskatchewan
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I love split reins, but I will ONLY use the 8' heavy thick training ones.
I have come to take the feel of lighter ones.
I also dont mind the horsehair ones with thick leather poppers on the ends.
I really dont mind reins that have some weight to them.
I guess they would take some time to get accustomed to, especially since you've been spoiled with singles for 10 years ;)
But, once you get used to them, there will be no going back.

Besides leather and horsehair, the only split reins I dont mind are ones that I made out of an old team roping rope - I unravelled it and braided it into reins.

Nothing is more satisfying than hearing your reins slap against your horses knees when you are training!

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post #7 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 10:17 PM
Green Broke
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i dont get the point of split reins, just more stuff to mess with. with roper reins you can just drop em on the horn to do something else , seems th efew times I rode with slit reins I was always tying them together anyways. A leather clacker tied in the middle works for water breaks and smacking withers, I prefer heels and or spurs depending on horse to reins.
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post #8 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 10:19 PM
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Pros: In my mind they give you more room to give the horse their head, can be comfortably used with either 2 hands or 1, and can be easier to maneuver if you're going through a wooded area or working around the farm.

Cons: dropping a rein..... haha

What I do when I'm on the trail is tie them together at the ends in a knot, this way I don't have to worry about dropping a rein (you can also do this at any time!). The people above summed it up for me! :)
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post #9 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 10:50 PM
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About a year ago, I bought some leather split reins which I never tried. Well, tried them this afternoon. I think I might like them if I get used to them. But for those who have used them, or did use them:

What are the advantages or disadvantages?

For me, the biggest advantage is that they are a lead rope and rein all in one. When I step off the horse, all I have to do is keep that left rein in my hand to lead them with. There's no time wasted unsnapping one side or having to bring them down over the horse's head.

Other big plus is that they are a whip and a rein all in one. So, you don't have to carry a crop or a whip or an over-under. Not saying "you" specifically bsms because I don't think you do carry any of those, but just a general "you".

I really noticed the difference between the 2 when I first started riding Rafe. Since he's so big, I first thought that my leather reins were too short and I went with the rope rein instead. With him, I occasionally needed a whip to get him going or keep him going (before he really learned and was consistent with legs = forward). So, I hung an old 1/2" 8 foot rein from my saddle horn to use as an over-under since I had the rope reins similar to what you use. That was the biggest pain in my butt LOL. I could never seem to get my hand on the whip in the right place at the right time.

I switched him to a pair of leather reins and, even though they're about 2 feet short for my taste, they are just a lot handier.

Also, even though most folks would disagree with me and I may get flamed for even mentioning it, but the split rein can also be used to soft tie a horse by taking a wrap around a fence. Again, when you're doing it or after it's done, there's no need to unsnap anything or toss it up over the horse's head, just grab it, get on, and go.

Did you have both ends on one side of the horse, or one end hanging on either side?

Either way is correct, depending on how you ride. When I'm riding a young horse that may not neck rein perfectly 100% of the time, I usually ride with them crossed over the neck, putting one tail on each side. That also gives me a "whip" on each side ready to go for whatever hand I have free. For horses that are more finished that I can ride with 1 hand 100% of the time, both tails are always on the left.

This is how they are on my broke horses...always have my first finger between them because that makes it really easy to "walk" my hand along the reins to adjust the length and/or even-ness of the reins.

And this is how they are on my green horses, ready to pick up with both hands at a moment's notice without risking dropping one on the ground. Again, I usually have my first finger between the reins to allow for "walking".

Are 8' split reins too long for a 15.2 mare? They sure seemed to dangle a long ways down, although I was pleased that Mia showed no concern for the things flopping around her front legs.

IMHO, no, but I don't believe that the reins are too long unless there is more than 1 inch dragging the ground LOL. My own personal preference is that the end of the tails hang right around (just below) the horse's knees when I'm riding on a slack rein. The only horse I've ever used a pair of 7 footers on was that little 13.1 pony I rode a couple of years ago...and only then while he was in a snaffle. When he went up to the curb, I was using the 8 footers without an issue.

I have no opinion at all, so I'm very open to advice. FWIW, she did seem more responsive to neck reining with the leather.

Having ridden a few million miles in both roping and split reins, I must say that I find the split reins to just be handier and quicker and easier for just about everything. Over the last few years whenever I've ridden with roping reins, I just kept on getting frustrated by how much time they took to readjust to do even simple things like get off to open a gate.

They do take a whole lot of getting used to at first, but most of the people I know who made the transition from roping to split say that they'll never go back.
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post #10 of 51 Old 09-23-2013, 11:34 PM
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I heartily agree with smrobs! I was tired of reaching for the end of mecate reins to spank because they put off my timing. I decided to try these long very heavy leather split reins my dear friend gave to me two years ago.

I soon noticed that the weight helped balance the reins in my hand and made it easier for my hands to move up and down as needed. My timing and feel is better with split reins. I always use them with my KSMH Ella, and we do much better together with them.
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