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Handling Your Reins

By LES VOGT / Horsetrader columnist - October 6th, 2011 - More with Les

Seventh in a series
After reviewing equipment last issue, Les breaks down one of the foundational communication devices.

If you haven’t ridden with them before, the seven-foot split leather reins are going to take some getting used to. To begin with, you’re going to want to cross them over the horse’s withers, then pick up both the direct rein and the tail from the other rein in each hand. It takes a little practice, but you’ll find that by tightening your grip on the tail of the opposite rein you can tighten your reins by sliding your hands away from each other. All you need to do to loosen them is let them slide through your fingers. On the DVD, I also show you a really neat way to gather up a lot of rein in a hurry!

There are some real advantages to these heavy, long reins. First, just their weight alone gives the horse something he can feel easily, both when you are taking the slack out of the reins and when you lay a rein across his neck. Second, the weight of the rein’s tail acts as a counterbalance, allowing you (with some practice) to efficiently slide your hand up the rein to get a firmer hold if you need to. Next, they will allow you to use a softer hand because, just like your horse, you will feel the slack coming out of the rein so you won’t end up jerking when you suddenly come to the bit. And lastly, they’re always handy if your horse needs a pop on the backside to make him speed up his moves a little bit.

Trainer Tip
The pressure I apply is equal to, but seldom greater than, the pressure that the horse is applying to me. If he veers or pulls slightly, I correct slightly. If he leans hard, then I might correct him a little harder. I might match him, but it’s the horse’s idea first.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More with Les is a regular California Horsetrader column. Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Although Les still rides and occasionally shows, his focus is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit: www.lesvogt.com

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