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Should I be training a young horse with side reins? It is not to force her head down, she has a decent head set, but does this training aid ruin young horses? I don't want her ending up incorrect. Side reins, training do or don't?
 

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If used incorrectly, yes, they can ruin a young horse. They can ruin any horse. It's like any training device. Are they bad to use? No. I use them when I lounge my mare to help her lounge "correctly" for lack of a better word. My side reins help her drop her head and raise her back, must like I would while on her. When I use mine they make big 'ole loops when she's working like she should, if she's fighting against them they're tight (which you don't want). I won't admit to being the expert of side reins, but they've helped my mare immensely when learning how to use her own body.
 

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Using any equipment can leave gaps in a horses training or 'ruin' it. I've used side reins on the young horses that I help work and they do fine. The trick is figuring out if it's for your horse or not. I've seen some that don't respond well to them, and others that do just fine.
 

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Side reins are not used to set the head, at least that is how I grew up learning. They are used to build muscle so they can carry their head in the right position and for collection! I adjust mine where I want their head to be and round pen 'em at the trot before I get on them. 5 to 10 minutes both ways. That gives me more time to work on other things, such as transitions and what not.
 

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I never use side reins when riding, bar from older school horses with beginners.

Lunge in them, yes. It helps the horse to drop its head without forching the issue, as tying reins to the girth do.

For a youngster? I wouldn't. I did, once, and the pony reared, lost balance, went down and reared again. THANKfully, did not topple. They aren't balanced enough, and for training a young horse I like to be able to dictate rein length and stretch without having to adjust every two minutes.

If the horse already has a decent head set, why would you put them on?

My four year old was gifted to my trainer. Her niece got on and rode with them on, and the next day I got on and he was extremely reluctant to move his head and neck past the 'fix' position that the side reins give.
 
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