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[RC] Draw Reins - katswig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Mike Sofen said:

He was very very full of himself, and felt
that EVERY horse in training at the facility
needed to be taught "collection" and he put every
horse on the hot walker with draw reins tied
to the lower points on a surcingle.

Just to clarify what we are talking about here.  Draw reins are reins that
attach to the girth, run through the bit, and up into the rider's hand. 
Since I have never heard of anybody riding a horse on a hot walker, I
suspect that the type of reins Mike is talking about here are side reins
and not draw reins.  Side reins do not give leverage to the rider's hand,
but rather just attach directly from the saddle/surcingle to the bit.

EVERY single horse was over-bent and behind the bit,
balky, resisting walking, etc.  

However, like draw reins, if attached below the point of the shoulder (the
general rule of thumb is that you want the rein to be parallel to the
ground if the horse's head is in the desired 'position') they have a
tendency to over-bend the horse.  

And, like draw reins, to work effectively, they have to be combined with
some kind of pushing aid, which can be released when the desired result is
achieved. A hot walker is neither a pushing aid (it pulls the horse from
the front) nor can it be released (it keeps pulling in the same way no
matter how the horse carries its head).

Both side reins and draw reins are tricky to use and require a good
understanding of what you are trying to achieve; however, side reins are
not quite so bad because a) there is no leverage and b) the user is
standing next to the horse rather than sitting up on top of it so it is far
easier to tell when the horse is over bent, and c) they are not attached to
the rider's hand. So side reins can be used with less expertise than draw

That does not change the fact, however, that both of them are very good
tools if you want to over bend the horse (which many people, IMO
mistakenly, do--and personally I have yet to see "long and low" applied by
anybody in any way other than what _I_ would call over bent either).

Since this is not a dressage list but rather an endurance list, I have no
desire to get into a debate over the definition or suitability of over
bent; however, one of the reasons I have often been hired to "fix" horses
that are over bent is because people who are now trying to use these horses
as trail horses don't like the fact that their horse's head and neck
disappear from view as they start down a hill...which can be very
disconcerting, to say the least.

Orange County, Calif.

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