Draw Reins – Part One

I like to get the draw reins on and use them to help your horse to gain collection. That’s one of their uses, I also put them on if I’m going to teach the transition into a lope. When used properly, they are a good training aid. Used improperly, they can cause problems.

It’s not wise to over-use draw reins or to use them just to get a horses head down. People sometimes use draw reins for that very reason and they forget about the rest of the horses body and collection. All this does is put the horse on the forehand. You really need to think self-carriage. When a horse has “self-carriage,” the horse literally carries his weight (including the rider’s weight) balanced over his haunches. Because he’s balanced on the hindquarters, he has a light forehand and a soft poll. He carries his weight without leaning on the rider.

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If you only use them to get the horse’s head down, you’ll lose the horse’s natural movement. You see horses in draw reins where their heads are to their chests, and they are just shuffling around, flopping on their front ends without any carriage or lift to their bodies. It’s very hard to correct that.

As with anything, when you use draw reins, there should be a give-and-take in the rider’s hands. You pick up, feel him come to the collected frame and then release immediately.

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