Western tips? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 09-08-2011, 06:20 AM Thread Starter
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Western tips?

I have started trying out western on a young horse. I practiced first on my older horse until I got the hang of it, then moved on to the young one.
I know some things about western, but not much (I usually ride Hunter/Jumper).

I ride with a standard western pleasure saddle, and I'm using split reins on a snaffle bit (again, he's a young horse).

How far apart are your hands when you hold split reins?
Where does the extra rein ends go? Do they just hang down on each side?
What's the best method of shortening up your reins?
What is the hand position supposed to be? (again, while using two hands)

Does anyone have any tips for me?

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post #2 of 9 Old 09-08-2011, 12:31 PM
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The ends of the reins drape down in front of the saddle, the end of the right rein on the left shoulder and the end of the left rein on the right shoulder.

Your hands should be above and in front of the pommel.

As far as shortening, lengthening, practice walking your hands independently up and down the reins. It's pretty easy once you figure it out.

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post #3 of 9 Old 09-09-2011, 11:39 PM
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How far apart your hands are holding the split reins depends on what you are doing. If you are trying to get them to collect and drop their head, your hands will be farther apart while you "pulse" pressure in the side-to-side fashion on the bit. If you are asking them to stop, you will have your hands closer together and near your pommel. If you are teaching a spin, one hand will be up and one hand will be out fairly far. And so on....

Yes, the extra reins hang down the side of the horse. The rein that is attached to the left side of the bit, will cross over their neck and hang down the right side. Vice versa for the other rein. Make sure the reins aren't too long for your horse in that he could possibly step on the ends of them.

When direct reining a young horse, I hold the reins with my palms down. I use my fingers to apply pressure to my rein and don't need to use my entire hand very often. To quickly adjust my hand position, you just slide the reins through your hands. So if I want my hands closer together and the reins shorter, I let the ends of the reins slide through my hands as I move my hands inward (while hanging on firmly to the part of the rein that goes to the snaffle bit). Takes a bit of practice, but you can do it quickly and without thought once you get the hang of it.

Hand position depends on what you are doing. In general, though, your hands should stay near the pommel of your saddle. But of course, this can change based on what you are doing.

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post #4 of 9 Old 09-10-2011, 12:06 AM
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I tried to find a video online. Um, here's an example of what not to do.

He IS holding the reins right, but using them rather wrong. And is it just me, or is the colt off on the right front?
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post #5 of 9 Old 09-10-2011, 12:10 AM
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The reins should be about 8 inches apart. The idea that the guy above is showing is about right but he's pretty sloppy about it. As for him being off Bubba, I can't decide if he's off or if he's confused. He is trotting in the back but almost walking in the front and I'm wondering if it's because of the rein contact? Or he's stiff in that shoulder... Not sure...

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post #6 of 9 Old 09-10-2011, 12:50 AM
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I could only watch the first minute of that video. ARGH! take his face? The horse just plows forward, ONTO his face. I know , this is not a critique section, so I better stop now.

Please don't jerk the reins like that and I think most of them time one holds their hands closer together.
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post #7 of 9 Old 09-10-2011, 01:30 AM
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Tiny, on a green horse first learning cues in a snaffle bit, you hold the reins further apart to exaggerate the signals. As the horse learns and begins responding better to subtleties, then you are able to bring the hands closer together.
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post #8 of 9 Old 09-11-2011, 12:16 AM
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Have to agree about the video. What he's saying is the right idea (as in driving from your legs into the bridle), but the execution is a bit lacking. He's hanging all over that poor horse's face

Anyway! Back to the questions.

Everyone else has covered the basics, but no one's really mentioned bridging. This isn't really necessary unless you're planning on showing, in which case this would be the "correct" way to hold the reins while riding two handed (assuming your horse is still young enough to be ridden in a snaffle).
So when bridging the reins, you overlap the two split reins and pick them up holding them like you would riding in regular english reins. The right rein will still fall over the left side and vice-versa, but you will be holding the end of each rein in the opposite hand creating a "bridge" from one thumb to the other. I'm a fan of visual aids so I've attached a couple pictures below so you can see what I'm talking about.
When riding with bridged reins it is important that you have enough of a bridge (ideally 8-12 inches of rein) between your hands so that they can work independently of each other. If you have to little rein between your hands, you won't be able to cue the horse with one hand without dragging the other along for the ride.

As for taking up on the reins, it works pretty much the same as it does in english riding. You just walk your fingers down the rein until you've got what you need.

Hope that helps!
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg bridgereins2.jpg (46.5 KB, 188 views)
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post #9 of 9 Old 09-11-2011, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bubba13 View Post
I tried to find a video online. Um, here's an example of what not to do.

Horse Training Tip #2 Bridling and Collection - YouTube

He IS holding the reins right, but using them rather wrong. And is it just me, or is the colt off on the right front?
Eeek. Ewiiiiiiiiie! Do. not. do. that. Perfect example of what not to do. I don't like how he "takes the horses face" by almost see-sawing. ew.

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