Draw reins, side reins, chambon, de gogue...please help - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 06-01-2008, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Draw reins, side reins, chambon, de gogue...please help

Ok I am at such a loss.
I used to work my horse in just a running martingale, but then we moved out of state and switched to a show barn.
After my first couple lessons my new trainer put my horse in draw reins (the kind that attach to the girth between there legs). After a few lessons with the "between the legs draw reins" she decided that we didn't really need anything that drastic so we switched into draw reins hooked on the breast plate. That was completely fine with me and I think both my horse and I worked pretty well in them, but then I did some research and some people said they like them and think that as long as you have a good trainer showing you how to use them they are great, but alot of other people said that it just puts the horse in a false frame, they don't really use themselves, and strains their necks and backs. So I just went ahead and did what my trainer told me during lessons but would school without them. Well then that trainer decided to get out of horses (longgg story). So I got switched to the "head trainer". Before my first lesson the breastplate I use wasn't in the tack room so I asked what I should do. She went and got me a pair of side reins (the kind that attach to each side of the girth) and told me they are better than draw reins anyway. At first it took some getting used to but then it felt like it was going really well. Then I went and did some research on them and some people said its fine to ride with them and it works well while others said they should only be used when longing, and some said that they should never be used on a horse.
Then recently someone suggested a chambon or de gogue. I don't know much about them at all.
So I don't really know what I should get. I

I'm sorry if i'm making this really complicated...but to me its a kinda complicated subject (especially since everyone seems to have different and opposite opinions).
Is there anyway somebody could give me a quick pros and cons list about draw reins/side reins/ chambon/de gogue? If you were in my situation what would you do? Any insight and opinions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks =].
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post #2 of 15 Old 06-03-2008, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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post #3 of 15 Old 06-03-2008, 08:55 PM
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Draw reins are very good. When used correctly (one rein "tightened" at a time, not both) they show your horse's nose to the proper frame, and since it's not really forcing them into the frame, they are more likely to use their backs.
Side reins kind of force the horse into holding their head a certain way. I still use them though, my mare needs to build up some muscles along her back!!
I have not use d a chambon nor a de gogue, so I'm sorry I can't help you there :(

Best of luck!
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post #4 of 15 Old 06-03-2008, 10:25 PM
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I haven't used any of these things. considered it a few times, but always backed out since I'm not too concerned about proper frame or collection, etc. etc. I'm a backyard-rider. However, it all interests me and I read an article in Horse Canada a while back. I have found it -- it's the July/Aug 2007 issue which you probably can't get, right?

Quick quotes:
Chambon: help a horse to develop the muscles of their back and topline. It applies pressure to the poll and mouth of the horse when he raises his head, releasing when the horse stretches long and low, down toward the ground. When a horse is lunged correctly, and the chambon is correctly adjusted, the horse stretches down and raises his back. -- designed to be used only when lungeing and free-schooling. ... the horse must understand the basics of giving to bit pressure before he is required to wear this...

DeGogue... a chambon modified for use while riding. ... if used on a horse who is not actively going froward from the lef, it can exaggerate a tendency to curl up... it's possible to adjust <> extremely short, as a device for rollkur (controversial, sometimes considered abuse)... needs double reins so your seat must be very independent and must have good, skilled hands

Side reins... encourage the horse to stretch forward and down during lungeing... not intended to force the horse's head into position .. need to be adjusted with care... if too short may result in using the wrong muscles

Draw reins... not mentioned in the article

Some comments I found interesting:
"Adjusted loosely, such items MAY be used, on rare occasions, by a top trainer, to help a horse find and understand a different balance that will then be confirmed without the equipment. But most of the time, you are more likely to see these and other pieces of equipment being used to force the horse into a specific, static position to create a particular head-and-neck silhouette."

"Devices are only good if they are educational rather than merely restrictive or forceful.<snip> Does this gadget teach the horse something? Or doe it just force the horse into something, or into (or out of) a particular position? "Does this help to develop the correct muscles <> so he will become more capable.. or does it develop the opposite muscles by creating pain and setting up resistances...

"Any device which appears to provide instant improvement in your horse's way of going is very likely only going to create results that last until you take the gadget off. The true test ... is whether its effects linger long after it has been relegated to the bottom of the tack trunk."

"...always strive towards the purest form of training, which has no shortcuts." (That's my personal fav!)

Hope this helps some...
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post #5 of 15 Old 06-04-2008, 08:59 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks alot. That cleared it up a bit.
So I'm kinda thinking about sticking with draw reins or getting a de gogue (I've heard really good things about them).
With the draw reins, I've heard that it can put the horse in a false frame and strain their backs and stuff? Is that true or only if you use them wrong?
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post #6 of 15 Old 06-04-2008, 12:50 PM
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From my understanding, ANY of these items can cause problems if not used correctly, so I would definitely look for some professional advice from a few different people b4 heading off to buy and then use something. I think they should all come with a bright orange tag that says "USE WITH CAUTION"
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post #7 of 15 Old 06-04-2008, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yeah, I always consult my trainer before buying anything and have been using draw reins during lessons for a little while now. I just wanted to ask becasue for some reason they seem to be a VERY controversial object so I wanted some more info.
Why does everyone seem to think that they are bad? I understand that they can be harmful if you dont know what your doing, but alot of people say that they would never use them no matter what.
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-04-2008, 04:39 PM
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I think some people just don't like "gadgets." My sister for example, won't use one period, just on principle. Others are maybe a bit overconcerned about them not being used properly. Or, people may forget that they are a training AID and not something to be there forever, only as a teaching tool. Some people are too heavy-handed, or not skilled enough (like me :) )

I think these tools are like anything else: if used correctly, it's fine; incorrect usage can cause real problems. It's not the tool, but the user!
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post #9 of 15 Old 05-30-2012, 02:06 PM
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Talking degogue

I LOVE the degogue! i use it on many of the horses I have in training or in retraining. I would suggest you make sure you use it with someone experienced with using them as with any training aid they an be dangerous. I wouldnt use it on my TB, just because of her personality i think she would panic and rear.. but i do use it on many of the other horses i work with. I prefer the degogue over the chambon! its a miracle worker!! :)
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post #10 of 15 Old 05-30-2012, 04:05 PM
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I've used all of these 'gadgets' at different points, I can give you a quick lowdown on how I've personally used them, but everyone does have different opinions and at the end of the day it depends what your horse needs!

Firstly, my fave bit of this kit is most definitely side reins. I use these on all my youngsters when lunging (after a period of fitness work) to encourage the horse to accept a contact and start to work in a frame. The trick is to keep them loose, they don't pin the head in but instead they don't allow the horse to stick it's nose out, and the horse has to carry itself when they give to the contact. Don't use the ones with elastic insets though, as that can teach a horse to lean on the contact.

However, the downside to side reins is that they're not adjustable in a split second, and have no give. For horses with very sensitive mouths, or who have a tendency to throw their heads around, or sometimes just with youngsters who are unsure of what is happening and can be reactive, they can actually cause a horse to rear (especially if too tight). So before I introduce side reins (and I do it very slowly, one loose rein at a time first and gradually tightening over a week or so and introducing the second rein) I sometimes use a home-made device I call a 'bungee' instead, and for some horses as a complete replacement.

My 'bungee' is a length of bungee cord with a clip at either end. The middle of the cord sits on the headpiece, with either end of cord going through the rings of the snaffle, and then clipping to a piece of felt I look around the girth, between the legs. This is probably an actual gadget of some sort, but I just made my own as I like it better than the chambon. I like it because it is completely flexible, and if the horse panics and pulls its head up there is resistance, but its not inflexible. (Kind of like an elasticated de gogue, I guess, with more give and only for lunging)

A chambon I've only used with horses who really fight the bungee and lean on it, but are too green or too flighty and I don't trust with side reins. This way, there is pressure on the mouth but not the poll the way there is with a bungee, and horses can't learn to lean on it the same way. But I don't like them for horses who I can work in side reins or a bungee, as the fact that the chambon doesn't have a downwards pressure, only a pressure on the mouth that increases as the head rises, can encourage rearing. They can also be useful for horses that have really learnt to dip their backs away from a rider's weight, though...

Basically, it depends on the horse. All of these are only for lunging in in my opinion though, as there is no way of releasing the pressure when mounted, and you don't want to be mounted if a horse does decide to flip. However, I would always lunge in one or other of these gadgets, depending on the horse - I would ride my horse in some sort of contact when schooling, so I think some way of asking for contact while lunging encourages a horse to work better. Ideal world, side reins, for me.

The draw reins though I consider much more gadgety. Once you've started riding a horse, if they've been properly started they shouldn't need gadgets to pin their head in - they've learnt from the side reins how to give when the contact is apple,d and how to carry themselves, so shouldn't need it. But, for fixing up horses who have been taught to brace against a contact and hollow out their backs, draw reins can be useful - it allows a horse who has difficulty bringing the back up to lean on the contact a little to balance before bringing the back up. Not ideal, I know, so I don't tend to use them often, but if it's going to be my back or draw reins that they brace on for that first period of building up new muscles, I'd rather it was draw reins. From there, I'd go to a market harborough and as soon as the horse has learned to give properly when contact is applied, to nothing. Draw reins are SO EASY TO USE WRONGLY though, as they tighten up very easily and can end up pinning a horse's head down to a degree where it can really hurt them. Far worse for them than even hauling on the bit all the time. So use with caution.

Bit of an essay, but essentially: side reins, good; bungee, good; chambon, third choice, but useful; draw reins, if your horse is really messed up with regards to reaction to contact, they can be useful, but use with caution.

Last edited by minstrel; 05-30-2012 at 04:12 PM. Reason: serious spellcheck issues
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