Draw reins potentially make a great training tool for your horse, but only when used properly. Improper use of draw reins can ruin an otherwise good horse. Prior to considering using draw reins, you must have an independent seat and quiet hands that can gently follow your horse's mouth. If your horse refuses to move forward off your leg, refuses to accept contact with the bit, or curls his head to his chest, draw reins are not the answer for your horse.
Things You'll Need
- Bridle with reins
- Snaffle bit
- Draw reins
Tack up your horse with your usual saddle, girth and bridle. If you don't normally use a snaffle bit, change your bit to a snaffle before using draw reins.
Place the draw reins across your horse's neck. On each side, run the draw rein from the outside of the bit, through the ring on the snaffle bit, and back to the girth. If you're correcting an inverted horse, who carries his head raised and his back hollowed, attach the draw reins to the center of the girth between the horse's legs. If your horse stiffens without either giving to the bit or raising his head, attach the draw reins to the girth at his side, just below the saddle flap.
Mount your horse and pick up your reins.
Riding With Draw Reins
Hold your reins like you would hold those of a double bridle. Keep the regular bridle rein on the outside and the draw rein on the inside.
Maintain light contact with your horse's mouth.
Ask your horse to move forward into the bridle by using leg pressure. Don't pull on the draw reins.
Squeeze the outside rein gently and loosen the inside rein as you increase pressure on your horse's side with your inside leg. He should seek your outside rein by stretching his neck forward into the bridle.
Release pressure on the reins when your horse responds correctly.
Limit your training sessions with the draw reins to only five or 10 minutes at a time, and don't use draw reins every day. Keep the experience positive.
Tips & Warnings
- Prior to using draw reins, try to determine the actual cause of your horse's resistance to accepting the bit. Rule out things such as arthritis or injuries that prevent him from stretching his neck; consider his level of fitness and whether he has the strength for the head carriage you are asking for, and ensure he has received a proper foundation for learning the rider's aids.
- Use boots or polo wraps and bell boots to protect his legs and feet, should he misstep with the draw reins on.
- Use reins only while doing flatwork with your horse. If you must jump with draw reins, use a neck strap to hold the reins up and out of the way of your horse's legs.
- Introduce the draw reins to your horse slowly. If he feels his movement is too restricted and he panics, he could potentially run backward, rear or flip over.
- Using the draw rein with too heavy a hand could result in a short-necked horse with a flat back and disengaged hindquarters. Overuse of draw reins can create a short-strided horse, cause additional resistance to the bit, make him heavy on his forehand or create body soreness.
- Never use draw reins on a horse who is young, nervous or excitable.
- Always use draw reins under the supervision of an experienced horse trainer.
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