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[RC] Draw Reins - katswig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Renelle Rubin said:

In defense of draw reins, I have successfully trained
two Arabs to move off their hind end with them. I did
not, however use any "nose band". Instead, I pushed them
into contact with the bit and immediately dropped the draw
rein when I felt their back come up and felt them move
smoothly and in frame. I am not talking a "collected" frame

The problem with draw reins is not that they cannot be used effectively to
teach a horse to ride nicely on the bit, but rather that it requires such
skill, subtlety, and constant attention with both hand and leg to do so
that few people can, and the consequence of misapplication of draw reins is
to have a horse that is behind the bit.

After having taught a horse to go behind the bit (which virtually everybody
who uses draw reins does), getting the horse out from behind the bit is
extremely difficult (and requires even more skill than using draw reins
correctly does) since you can't push on the reins.

The only thing that properly applied draw reins afford a rider that a
direct rein does not, is leverage (i.e. it makes it so that when a horse
pulls on the reins, the rider can pull back without using as much effort as
would be required with a direct rein), and I rarely ever want to be pulling
on a rein so hard that I need leverage to make it easier.  Unless, of
course, the rider misapplies the draw reins by attaching them at a place
below the point of the shoulder (e.g. to the girth between the horse's
legs), and then the draw reins also pull down on the reins (and with
leverage, mind you), which makes it even more likely that the result will
be a horse that it over bent and behind the bit.

To some people, "over bent and behind the bit" is how they define
"collection" and it is what they are striving for. In which case, draw
reins work admirably. However, if one does not want an over bent horse, it
is important to tread very carefully if one chooses to use draw reins at

In all my years of riding and watching other riders, I have only ever met
one person who did not over bend the horse by using draw reins, and this
rider used them so rarely and only briefly so as to help a brutish horse
that hangs down on the reins (i.e. she didn't use them on horses that are
above the bit) to understand.  And I have seen tons of people misapply
them.  Draw reins can be a help if the rider has light and sensitive hands
coupled with impeccable timing of the leg and understands that the line
between application and over-application is a fine line indeed, which, once
crossed is difficult to "uncross."

Personally, I don't have enough skill to use them properly, and I have had
enough practice at getting horses that other people have put behind the bit
out from behind the bit to know that I don't want to misapply draw reins
and have to fix that problem in my own horses as well :).

The trainer to run from is one that puts draw reins on every horse, or one
who has a barn full of horses that are behind the bit.

Orange County, Calif.

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