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How short to hold reins when riding/training?

Original Question

Hi, I’m after tips on how short to hold reins when riding/training?

Angie’s Answer

Hi Kristina,

When I am working on collection with a horse, I want my reins short enough so they are comfortable and easy to manage. If my reins are too long, I have to gather them up and by then my horse has been out of collection for too long, when I released the reins it does not have to be a complete loose rain. It can be just a release of my grip in my fingers and they will feel that, so when I released the grip I am telling my horse, yes that is the correct response.

When my horse gets used to that, they will stay soft for longer. So I may still have my horse in contact but it is just a support with my hands on his mouth, not a resistance. If he was pulling, I would match that contact so as he was just pulling on himself and as soon as he softens, I release the grip but not the whole contact. My goal is to have the horse soft in the pole and with a little bit of leg around my horse so I can lift his belly up and keep him round. If he tries to pull on the reins, he is resisting that roundness and trying to stretch out forward. When he does this, I hold firm with my hands and maintain leg contact, trying to lift his belly up until he gets soft again. When I am resting after working on collection, I can give him a loose rein and in time he will stay in this frame for longer with less contact to the point where he may be able to hold his collection on a loose rein, but that takes a long time to get to that point.

I hope that helps,




Angie Wicks

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