Draw Reins

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by Teddie1980, Mar 31, 2007.

  1. Teddie1980

    Teddie1980 Well-known Member

    Ok hopefully i am not opening a can of worms here, but what are peoples thoughts on using draw reins?
  2. wozal

    wozal Well-known Member

    i have never used them, but have seen them used many times, i dont particularly like them, as the horses i have ridden that have been ridden regularly with them, usually tend to sit behind the bit and are over bent and not tracking through behind.......would also love to hear other peoples thoughts, good topic teddie!
  3. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    for high level riders on high level horses doing high level work they are good.

    for 8yr old hack riders who cant get their high arab/Tb % ponies head out of the sky because they dont have decent instructors and the pony hasnt been trained properly that are just rediculous. it never fails to anger me when i see people riding in draw reins to compensate for their poor riding because they should only ever be used by advanced riders anyway. Usually it reluts, as wozal has said, in horses travelling behind the bit and on the forehand not tracking up - and for some reason hacky judges like this look??????? if you cant get your horse on the bit, learn to ride and learn to train!
  4. widgelli

    widgelli Well-known Member

    As Wozal and Heiffer have said, the only thing that draw reins do for someone who is not riding a horse that has been educated properly is to drag its head into a false position and make it drop short behind.

    The best way to get your horse to move forward on the bit, is to use your seat and legs properly.
    As I have said many times , the balance point of the horse is it's poll, so when your weight comes down properly onto the horses back, it will bring it's hind legs further underneath itself, thus driving the head down lower to balance that drive from behind.

    If you use such things as draw reins, the horses head is literally dragged down at the bit , and the tighter you pull them, the lower the head goes , until the horse cannot see where it is going properly, because it is looking at the ground, instead of forward.

    Three points to remember when you are working your horse and wish it to carry it's head properly.

    1) Make sure that your horse's bit is not hurting it when you pull the reins. Some bits will bend up in heavy hands and hit the horse in the Barrs on the top of the mouth, thus making the horse throw it's head up to avoid this contact.

    2), Make sure that your stirrups are not too short, thus pushing you back into the back of your saddle and therefore losing contact with the horses back where it is needed, which is in the center of your saddle.

    The correct length is , when you are sitting in your saddle, with your feet out of the stirrups, the bar at the bottom of your stirrup should hit you just below the ankle , or on the top of the arch of the foot.
    3) Make sure that your legs are in contact with your saddle, all the way down the flap. That is, the inside of the thigh, the inside of the calf and the inside of the knees. If you turn your toes out, you will lose contact with the knees and the rest of the leg.

    To get the drive necessary to drive your horse forward and to keep your seat deep, learn to keep your heels down.

    All this is covered in the Specialist topic in the Riding thread on this forum.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2007
  5. primrosecourt

    primrosecourt Well-known Member

    I have mixed opinions on this subject.
    I agree entirly that in inexperineced hands draw reins can be very harmful to a horses way of going.
    But then so can spurs,whips and infact some dreadful riders all together!!
    However having said that,it is also just as bad to see someone hanging of a horses head and as much as we all seem to know that one should be riding up from leg to hand, this is so far from the truth when you look about at an awful lot of riders out competing here.
    I have worked at a few 'big' yards in the UK and Europe and have seen draw reins used by average riders and alot are grooms.This has not led to horses dropping behind the bridle etc infact in many cases it could be argued that it is better to have ametuer hands having to use D/R than have them deaden a horses mouth by 'see sawing' at its mouth to attempt to 'put' it onto the bit.In this case when the 'rider' comes to schooling his horse it still has a mouth at the end of it and hasn't been ruined by the 'grooms' rough hands if he should not be a particulary good rider(which alot aren't).
    I appriciate not many of us have grooms!(this is just an example!)but I do think that in some instances D/R definately have a place in training.I would far rather see a horse instantly except the D/R as they often do, than see a rider being heavy handed and having a fight,which no matter what you might say or think,is very often the truth from what I have seen in WA at least.
    As for children and D/R,well I think we all agree that should be a no no.Rather like spurs and even a double bridle,unless the child has been taught properly how to use these things.
    I personally use D/R intermitently in my schooling but I alwasys try to aim to 'shake' them off ie tie them in a knot after about 20 mins into the sesion.I feel I should not be using them any longer than this so that the horse will not become relient on them(and myself also as its very easy to use them as a quick fix)
  6. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    why would someone else be riding your horse if they werent experienced? theres NO WAY id let anyone on mine! Dave can ride them but he rides on the buckle and is very soft and i dont feel ashamed to tell him what to do lol. my bestie can ride buckley but i tell her off if she tries to put him in a frame (saws - she was taught by, well a dressage judge/coach who is really a hacky in discuise...). apart from that (and japanese friends who get led around on them) i dont let people ride my horses. and just the thought of them riding my horses in drawreins makes me faint!!!! easier just to school your own horse.....

    EVERY hack show ive been to ive seen kids in draw reins. I use to work at a fairly well known hack stables and id see kids who couldnt even sit trot or sit canter, using draw reins even whilst under instruction. boy it gets my goat - and the judges still place them!!! The only time anything will change is when the judging changes.
  7. I have never used draw reins.... but wouldn't you prefer to teach your horse through training to naturally hold his head in the correct position using certain exercises, rather then tie it down.
  8. primrosecourt

    primrosecourt Well-known Member

    I don't know what goes on in the show world as I've only worked and ridden performance horses.
    The reason you have other people riding your horses is because when you have a yard of between 10 and 20 plus horses it is impossible for you as the 'rider trainer' to ride each one everyday.That is why you have to employ grooms to help with this,either by doing the tacking up and untacking,warming up and warming down of the horses and if they are ok to do so,schooling.
    I learnt to 'ride' properly whilst I was a groom for Jennie Loriston Clarke(MBE and Olympic Dressage rider)I did not even know what riding on the bit meant until I went there.
    I learnt most of what I know today because i was given the opotunity to ride and school all different types and levels of horses.I rode in snaffles,doubles,D/R,you name it we did it.We were mostly under the guidence of Jennie or another rider but we were also left to get on with it aswell.
    We actually had over 60 horses in work there so there was no way Jennie could ride them all every day.

    I would rather see a horse worked with D/R under supervision than have someone making it hard in the mouth and heavy in the hand.
    I would not mind at all someone else riding my horse that wasn;t experienced as I would show them how to ride correctly. I have become very open minded as I believe eveyone has to start somewhere and be given the same great oppotunities i was given!!

    Later on I worked at an international event yard and the rider here was the one who said that we all had to ride the horses in D/R unless otherwise asked to because she did not want the less experienced grooms hanging off the eventers mouth when we were doing fast fittening work on the gallops and hills and also hacking out on the roads.It meant when she came to ride them they all went sweetly into the hand and did not hang or get strong in one or both reins,and I have to say I agree with her way of thinking.It is not always possible to find people that are talented riders to work for you and so you must think up ways to help both them and more importantly the horse.
    I am only telling of my experiences and believe me i have had many!!:)))
    If used correctly D/R do not tie or hinder a horses way of going,only encourage a correct outline and suppleness through the pole.Like many artificle aids they should not be used every time nor should they be misused.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2007
  9. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    why so many? i work for an international dressage rider too, she has 3 horses in work lol
  10. primrosecourt

    primrosecourt Well-known Member

    Go and work in Europe and you'll see its a whole different ball game!
  11. Dream Merchant

    Dream Merchant Active Member

    Europe is the horse kingdom - BIG dollars are paid over there, and there is a HUGE number of performance horses over there and studs etc. Here? We are very small scale compared to it all.

    As for draw reins? They have their place in expirenced hands - I'll use them occassionally, but it's not something I have on the horse's day in and day out - when used in a good way, they are extremely benifical. IE: not just used to clamp a horse into a set head position - but asked, and when the horse responds, the D/R's are softened and slackened. Most of the time my D/R's are slack and loose, and only tighten when the horse gets out of shape or looses collection.
  12. Tain

    Tain Well-known Member

    Yep, Primrosecourt is right and eurpoean equestrian experience is priceless. D/R have several purposes depending on their use. I'm not generally a fan of promoting them as in Australia misuse of them is unfortunately too comon. They can be handy to encourage a good stretch,(nose-first long and low, and over the back). And/or for a horse that backs of the contact, the dr's offer a consistant and encouraging contact provided there is enough leg to back up the artificial aide. However over use(in a fixed collected frame) without flexion/bend suppling excercises can produce a fixed head and neck- which inhibits freedom over the back and therefore true collection.
    As long as you are practiced at riding with two reins (double, pelham, gag, dr), and you can be addaptive and coordinated with your D/R contact as the excercise requires, or as PC says to be worked(not schooled) in a soft frame by grooms/staff draw reins arent so evil.:)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2007
  13. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member


    How the drawrein is usually attached.
    The absolutely most talked about auxiliary equipment in use for dressage is the drawrein. In the German language they are called Schlaufzugel = Loop Reins, and ironically mispronounced Schlafzugel = Sleeping Reins. No gadget is more routinely and habitually used or abused for dressage training. Some barns even harbour the myth that you actually need them, or the horse won't work correctly. And maybe their horses really won't...
    They are really very simple things. They are long reins that attach to the girth, either at the sides or between the frontlegs. From there they run through the bit rings to the hands of the rider where they are adjustible. This fixed length between girth, bit and hand, prevents the horse from raising his head or poking his nose further than the drawreins allow.

    Drawreins - very simple things.
    They appear to have all sorts of uses. Many riders I have met have used them as a last resort to stop their horses from running away with them. Yet others have used them to stop the horse from breaking free when starting to learn the flying changes. And one because the horse was supposed to have that outline anyway, so why not? Yet others, I guess, use them because they can't really ride their horses on the bit, or are embarrased for those times when the horse throws his head up because of loss of balance or other difficulties. Anyway, there's no need to further explain the uses of something that shouldn't be used, so I'll continue to explain the downsides, instead."

    source: Sustainable dressage
    ::: Sustainable Dressage - Tack & Auxillary Equipment - Gadgets & Auxiliary Equpiment :::
  14. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    "Force and Entrapment

    Trying to pull the head of the horse down
    with only the reins can be futile.
    The running function of the drawreins, and the fact that they attach in two places juxtaposed (down and back) to where the horse wants to put his head (up and out) make them many times stronger than the rider could otherwise be. With only regular reins the horse can raise his head as long as the distance from head to hand remains the same. To overcome the horse with force the rider has to try to pull the head down by pressing the hands down (see photo right). Without adequate skill, this is not a strong position.
    So the drawreins are an instrument of power and not one of understanding, cooperation and trust. But trust, how do you make a distrusting horse, with a back pain or a generally inverted body, that rushes and gazes at the stars, compliant? Well that's the challenge that makes most riders haul the drawreins out of the tack box.
    But if we instead look at what the drawreins really do, opposed to what they are ideally supposed and believed to do, and we begin to estimate the risks, then maybe this option does not seem so good anymore.
    The different positions the head can take with a
    given amount of rein.

    The active drawrein, pulling the bit down and in, in a direction between the attatchment at the girth and the hands, trap the horse. There is room to move inside the confinement, but not in the desired direction - forward-down-out, the horse can however curl back in (green position). It can also shorten the neck and elevate the head some (red position), in trying to relieve the action of the bit.
    In order for the horse to be able to relax the jaw and poll, and stretch forward-down-and-out as one would wish, the rider needs to give the drawrein out of the hand more than an equal amount, and to be honest - this is not something drawrein protagonists tend to do! Instead, much of the problem seems to originate with a non-feeling hand that reluctantly gives, and rarely with any good timing. Stretching is not a priority for these riders, as much as pulling together and shortening the frame.
    It is a hassle to try to give with the drawrein while maintaining contact on the regular rein. At its best, the draw rein can be used so that it is taut when the horse tries to poke his nose, and loose when he relaxes the jaw. The greater part of the work must naturally be done relaxed, and not "fighting" the drawreins. This is not the norm, when riders use drawreins, and no wonder. If it were, they wouldn't need them!
    Horse pulled in by drawreins.
    The use of the drawreins as a backup is, however, not desirable either, because one would ideally like to be able to change the length of the neck forward-down-out during the entire riding period. The slack drawrein that comes into action when the horse pokes his nose also comes in to action when he stretches forward-down-out. The solution would then be to change the grip of the drawrein everytime you let the horse lower his head and neck. And shorten it as you ask the horse to come up, because otherwise it would be useless, and allow for stargazing on the longer drawrein."

    source: Sustainable dressage
    ::: Sustainable Dressage - Tack & Auxillary Equipment - Gadgets & Auxiliary Equpiment :::
  15. CountryGurl_007

    CountryGurl_007 Well-known Member

    Draw Reins - Draw reins are commonly used for quick results to achieve an "outline" by forcing the head down. It is unsuitable and unsafe for jumping in. It relies entirely on rider skill, depending on the use of the draw reins to encourage correct head carriage. They are no substitute, however, for proper schooling. Horses who have been schooled in draw reins will not work up into the bridle or take a contact, even though their heads are in an "outline", and they are reluctant to use their hindquarters correctly.

    WEBSITE:Training Aids
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2007
  16. GeeJay

    GeeJay Guest

    Draw reins are a lazy rider's piece of equipment for quick results for what and yes I am from England and been a groom and seeing the results of DRAW REINS, horses heavey on the mouth and know bend. They are a cruel and a horrid piece of equipment and I know where I would like to stick them but that would be rude:(
  17. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    As Heifer and Geejay point out, these devices employ force and remove choice from the horse, which would promote mistrust, resistance, blocking of true movement, anxiety and all bad things. But at least its neck has a fancy shape that will impress (some) people.

    "encourage correct head carriage" is a joke of a phrase when referring to a horse being held in place so that it can't move its head any other way. Where is the encouragement in 'my way or else'? A more relevant statement might be 'enforces overbent head carriage and avoidance of the bit'.

    "reluctant to use hindquarters correctly" is hilarious as it implies the horse might be able to choose to move in a particular way, despite being held in off balance and unable to see where it is going. Perhaps 'disabled from using its hindquarters correctly' might be a better term.

    As Widgelli constantly posts - collection comes from riding the horse's hindquarters effectively, so that it holds it's own head to bring it into balance. And yet the popular perception persists that holding the nose in and down with straps will enable a horse to move better in it's body? I still can't make sense of it! Do people ride horses because they appreciate their natural movement and dignified beauty, or because a horse is something we can easily control and bend to our will for our own pointless purposes?

    Thanks Heifer and CountryGurl for the interesting website definitions.
  18. widgelli

    widgelli Well-known Member

    Thank you CountryGurl and Heiffer for those very interesting posts and for saving me a lot of work................lol.
    I was about to write a very similar thing on here.
    To be quite frank, to me , draw reins are a complete waste of time and also rather cruel to the horse.
    The horse in the photo is overbent and cannot see where he is going properly, because his head is jammed down. He is not moving forward in a natural way at all and if you look at his hind legs, there is not way that he can bring them underneath him properly, because he cannot bring his head up into the correct position on the bit.
    To some , he may look the part, but believe me, he would be as heavy as lead to ride, as he is being dragged down in front and all the pull would be on your forarms and hands. The rider would also be riding rather hard on his stirrups as well and not so much on his seat.
    Most of the problems that leads a rider to think that he/she might need to use drawreins can be solved by the rider, without any need to use them at all. It may take a little time, but believe me, it is well worth it in the end.
  19. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    Perhaps use of such gadgets results from ignorance...
  20. princeton

    princeton Well-known Member

    Just wondering.....

    I am very interested to know if you guys have the same opinion of side reins and the like when lunging????

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