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Discussion Starter #1
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??????
Not many

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.
 

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Hmmm, something to think about. I've always ridden in one piece reins that have snaps on the ends so when I get off I always unsnap one side.

I have a story where my reins saved me. :D Yesterday I took Stella for a ride for the first time in two months (I'm not much of a winter rider anymore). After such a long break she was pretty jittery and as we were riding past a house a big chunk of snow broke loose and fell off the roof. In the blink of an eye she spun around and took off full force toward home. I dropped my reins while grabbing mane to keep my seat, but was able to pick them back up off her neck to pull her to a stop. If I had split reins they would have fallen on the ground which for me would have made it a lot more difficult to get control of her.
 

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I agree with both! That's why I ride with single reins and a bow tie with the lead trough my belt loop just in case of a storm!
 

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Interesting thought RD.
In training young horses, I usually use the long Mecante style rope reins where you have a 7' loop and the long lead tucked under your belt.

As my horses mature, I move them out of the full checck snaffle and to a curb or correctional bit usually with a beta endurance style rein. If I dismount I unsnap one end as mentioned by 3Neighs and lead with a single, usually snaped to the halter under my headstall.

Both of these seem to be extremely popular styles. As there are lots and lots of Cowboys schooling horses along the trails with the mecante, and I can even guess how many miles have been accured in Endurance rides with the one piece set up.

I like the convience of a one rein when I'm packing and leading other horses. I don't have to fuss with adjusting the rein lengths of dual reins. While I have a lead rope in the other hand.

Now when I do ride with long western leather split reins, I don't knot the reins. I cross the reins just over the horse neck and hold the cross in one hand.

I'll have to give your reasoning some thought.
 

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I definitely see what you mean RD. I agree with 3neighs that if I do use a single reinI have snaps so I can get it off in an emergency like the one you described. She is very lucky that she did have such a patient horse. I know a few of mine who would wait, and one that would completely lose his mind if that happened.
 

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I can think of a number of times while trail riding that having split reins saved what could have been a nasty wreck. I also cross my split reins over my horse's neck and hold on to the cross. I find that I can make adjustments quickly that way.

While I like to use a single rein for arena work with cattle (such as team penning and sorting), I never use then on the trail.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I definitely see what you mean RD. I agree with 3neighs that if I do use a single reinI have snaps so I can get it off in an emergency like the one you described. She is very lucky that she did have such a patient horse. I know a few of mine who would wait, and one that would completely lose his mind if that happened.
I don't like snaps on my reins. I want a good solid buckle. My head stall is all heavy duty as are the reins and how they are attached to the bit. In the event of an emergency I totally trust my birdle and reins to hold .
I also feel that snaps jiggle the bit which in turns irritates the horse. I want a soft contact between the bit and reins.

That said a person on this forum had a bad experience when she flew forward on her horse.
I will PM her and maybe she will tell her story.
 

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Wow thank goodness horse and rider are okay. I would agree that sometimes things happen and sometimes they don't however I like to try and make everything as fool proof as possible won't always happen but the safer the better. I think reins are something that we could debate forever because it almost comes down to personal preforance. I like split reins but thats because short of speed events that is all I have ever used. There are reins for different events and what people like. I work for a trail riding facility and we tie their reins because they barely hang on anyway let alone if they let go of split reins would be a problem. I think you can have accidents with both kinds, I think it comes down to what is comfortable for you and horse and then think about safety and maybe you will try to make a change. GOOD LUCK
 

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While I like to use a single rein for arena work with cattle (such as team penning and sorting), I never use then on the trail.
I use two hands for working cattle - thus spilt reins.

I prefer roping/gaming/single reins on trail for green riders. If they 'drop' the rein, it stays on the horses neck vs falling to the ground and the potential for the horse to step on the rein and wreck their mouth - or take off out of control. I also put them on horses the beginners are riding in the arena.

As was mentioned - it boils down to personal preference. There can be very valid points made on both sides.
 

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I also cross my split reins over my horse's neck and hold on to the cross. I find that I can make adjustments quickly that way.
I do the same. I like have a lot of options with my reins when I'm on the trail, loose, tighter or right in the middle. For me, this is accomplished wonderfully by having long split reins held in a cris-crossed position.

I've never liked the feel of a single rein, there's just not enough leeway for my preference, but that's just me.

I worked at a dude ranch for several years when I was in high school and college and as one would assume we had to use single reins or knotted split reins for the dudes. I've seen accidents much like what you described RD, minus the snow. It takes a good headed horse to not freak in that kind of situation, I'm glad neither her or her horse were injured.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I loved my single gaming rein and used them for 20 years until UNTIL you have an accident that tangles you or your horse in the rein.
I hate 7 feet of heavy rein hanging down each side of the horse BUT my horse's life is in danger if he gets away. We cross many many expressways in our runs and often 10 plus miles from home. A loose horse really doesn't have a great chance so I don't loose horses.
No mater what and I have had plenty of hard spills I never let go of the rein. My last instinct before going down is a good grip on ONE rein, not 2 , one rein and hang on no matter what.
If you try this with a one piece gaming rein you will end in disaster. The rein is too short and pulls the horses head around no matter how you fall.

It is all about safety, not my comfort but the horses life. I never never walked home, well not without the horse and I don't want to start now.

Can you imagine a total wipe out and the horse running off bucking and heading straight for a busy expressway and all you can do is watch??

NO a good hold on a long sturdy rein or even the possibility the minute the horse gains his freedom he steps on the dropped rein and jerks himself to a stand still??? Strong training on ground tying I hope kicks in if he ever gets loose.
 

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At the camp I volunteer at we had a similar dilemma: We didn't want to leave the reins split since the horses were going to be ridden by small non-riding children that were inevitably going to drop split reins but most of the horses that were using were just barely broke enough to be safe (which I hope we don't get into a debate about, I just worked at the camp, I do not approve of the horse keeping strategy of the outfitter who owns the horses, I do not approve at all), so if they got tangled in joined reins... We went out and got some of those pig castrating green rubber rings and wrapped one around each set of reins, at a reasonable length, so the reins couldn't be lost yet they would release if a horse got tangled.

It worked really well. We had a few times where a horse ended up with the reins around their legs but we were able to free the horse easily and without panic because of the rubber ring.

I personally ride with english reins because I'm one of THOSE people with confused riding gear. However, I hate those nylon or whatever gaming reins and that's my only other choice. And I figure that the buckle on my english reins would probably break if something really crazy happened to them. And I could just unbuckle them if I was in a dire situation.

This is an excellent thread... I never really thought about what would happen to Lacey's face if she got her reins around her legs since I ride in one of those cross-under bitless bridles that would put a dang lot of pressure on her face if she was pulling from something. Thankfully she totally understands that kind of giving to pressure but maybe I'll look into getting some spilt reins...
 

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Ok, here I am. Rio'sDad asked me to share my experience with single (barrel) reins.

I was on an endurance ride last year. It was pouring down rain, lightning, thunder, tornadoes touching down literally as few as 5 miles away. Flooding was washing out the trails and many riders had already pulled. Me and another lady decided to go on but take it slow. The lightning was so close, you would just about jump out of the tack when it lit up the sky.

My mare though was handling it very well. We were trotting on a flat section of trail when an endurance DRIVER came around the corner and met us head on. His horse was in a good working trot, making use of the same flat/relatively solid section of trail. (I will NEVER attend an endurance ride again where drivers and riders are allowed on the same trail at the same time. It is stupid and dangerous. The trails are very narrow and both parties are moving at speed, coming and going up over hills and around curves.)

Anyway, she jumped to the side because the cart spooked her. The trail crumbled out from under us, she ran up a bit of a hill over a ravine and I went off over her neck with my arms up around her head. I was using a single barrel rein, which somehow went off over her head. My arm was hooked through the rein and I couldn't get free of it. I was drug a ways before I got free of the rein. The mare turned around and came right back for me, but it was one of the most dangerous sitautions I've ever been in. Realizing you are hooked to a horse that is panicked and running is a bad feeling.

Granted this might not have happened if the conditions were not so bad, but horses can spook when it's 72, dry and full sun too. I've gone off over her head when a section of trail caved in due to varmit undermining. I had split reins that time. Who knows if it would have happened again if I'd stlil had the barrel rein? I would rather have split reins and a horse steps on one and breaks it than to get their leg hung through a loop rein, or my arm hung up. I threw the reins away and have only used split reins since. I use pretty long reins, and they hang nicely on either side of the horse.

It's a personal preference issue I guess - everybody chooses what they most feel comfortable with.
 

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I use sigle with clip. I dont like slipts. Sometimes I drop one, by accident, and thats not good. I also do "gaming" barrel racing, pole bending, and...yeah.I leave hlters underneath when trail riding, to I just unclip and use for leadrope if I have to.
 

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Rio's Dad you are very correct!! Ground tying is something that I rely on and god forbidd that I am ever in a situation that I really need it! I have tried to change people mind about thier tack and they are so dead set that they don't change until something happens!
 

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I used to ride in split reins but I hate having to shorten and loosen two reins all the time. You're reaction time is slower when you can't just drop and grab up closer in an emergency. Plus with the events I enjoy (jumping, cross country, barrel/pole racing) it's risky having long reins on either side.

I've always worked with him horses so that they understand to stop if they get caught up in the reins. There's a buckle at the end of my English reins and with how thin the leather is there in an emergency the horse would be able to break the reins.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Rio's Dad you are very correct!! Ground tying is something that I rely on and god forbidd that I am ever in a situation that I really need it! I have tried to change people mind about thier tack and they are so dead set that they don't change until something happens!

Ground tying is something I do every day. When I return from a ride I go to the back of my truck where a neck rope is slipped around his neck and the bridle is removed. While I unsaddle I feed him bits of apple and he stand ground tied. I remove my chaps, my spurs and pick up his 4 feet, checking but not picking. I then lead him to the barn where he again stands ground tied while I put on his 2 blankets and then lead him to the field.
All saddling, all grooming is done with him hobbled, a tight pair of hobbles sometimes on his front feet, sometimes on his hind and sometimes on all 4. He is use to restraint and stands quietly no matter what.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I used to ride in split reins but I hate having to shorten and loosen two reins all the time. You're reaction time is slower when you can't just drop and grab up closer in an emergency. Plus with the events I enjoy (jumping, cross country, barrel/pole racing) it's risky having long reins on either side.

I've always worked with him horses so that they understand to stop if they get caught up in the reins. There's a buckle at the end of my English reins and with how thin the leather is there in an emergency the horse would be able to break the reins.
All of these situation are in a confined area. I too would use gaming reins but out in the open, out on the busy highways a loose horse is a danger to himself and everyone around him. I carry 3 millions dollars liability insurance and a long pair of reins for our protection.
 

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A man came to buy a horse from me once and he put his saddle on it and my bridle with split reins. He immediately tied them in a knot and we rode off. The horse jumped a little and the man, who was not a good rider at all, tipped right over backwards in his saddle and his leg went through the reins which twisted while he fell. The horse drug him about ten feet through the rocks and sage brush untill his foot slipped out. Amazingly he still bought the horse.
 

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I hate one-piece reins on trail rides, I won't use them, and when my friend rides with me, I won't let her knot my reins... Mine are synthetic leather, so they're pretty hard to drop, your hands stick to them well in case of a fall, and they aren't heavy or overly long....

I also don't like snap on reins... I borrowed a bridle and reins from my cousin because I didn't have a set for the horse I had borrowed and a snap came open on me out on the trail.... I'm just glad the horse was mellow and we had some leather ties with us, or I could have been in big trouble....
 
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