Draw Reins – Part One

I like to get the draw reins on and use them to help your horse to gain collection. That’s one of their uses, I also put them on if I’m going to teach the transition into a lope. 

When used properly, they are a good training aid. Used improperly, they can cause problems.

It’s not wise to over-use draw reins or to use them just to get a horses head down. People sometimes use draw reins for that very reason and they forget about the rest of the horses body and collection. All this does is put the horse on the forehand. You really need to think Self-carriage. When a horse has “self-carriage,” the horse literally carries his weight (including the rider’s weight) balanced over his haunches. Because he’s balanced on the hindquarters, he has a light forehand and a soft poll. He carries his weight without leaning on the rider.

If you only use them to get the horse’s head down, you’ll lose the horse’s natural movement. You see horses in draw reins where their heads are to their chests, and they are just shuffling around, flopping on their front ends without any carriage or lift to their bodies. It’s very hard to correct that.

As with anything, when you use draw reins, there should be a give-and-take in the rider’s hands. You pick up, feel him come to the collected frame and then release immediately.

But if you have the draw reins really short and you’re driving a horse’s head down with a constant hold, he might keep self-carriage for a while, but eventually, he’s just going to lay on his front end.

You want to teach a horse collection and position, you have to release the reins so the horse can learn to carry himself and not rely on a firm hold that is pulling his front end into the ground.

I like to use them for short spurts of time, when I am teaching something new to a young horse.

You can be lighter on their face as opposed to a direct rein hold, at the same time, showing them how to develop self-carriage. At some point though, you do have to remove them, don’t rely on them as a crutch.

Where do they go

I clip them to the cinch (see photo). If you put them down between the horse’s front legs, it’s more likely you’ll put the horse on his front end.



I don’t use draw reins until the young horse has learned to carry his weight and the riders, he should be allowed to travel with his head and neck up so as to learn how to carry himself and rider. I don’t like to get a young horses head down too low, hence the reason why I don’t clip the draw reins between the horses front legs to the ring at the bottom of the girth.

There are a few different types of draw reins, I prefer the fine, rolled leather or nylon type.

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I am a retired professional horse trainer, active Certified rider coach, I coach riders and their horses throughout Australia and New Zealand, I am the author of the book From Go To Whoa - Training Your Own Horse, I am also a Certified Nutritionist and a professional Keto Coach. I am a keen fisher woman and I love the gym where I weight train 4 days a week. I travel Australia full time now with my husband and our Jack Russell Doug, booking and holding clinics and lessons throughout the country for many remote horse riders as well as not so remote. I love coaching riders and their horses along with helping people with nutrition and the ketogenic diet.

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