Last Updated on March 20, 2022
Draw reins for horses are often recommended as a training aid, but what exactly are they and how do they work? Let’s find out!
What Are Draw Reins For Horses?
Draw reins, also known as running reins, are a training aid for horses, used when the horse is being schooled under the saddle. They consist of a continuous strap with a buckle in the center. At each end of the strap is a loop.
These loops are attached to the girth of the saddle, and each rein runs through the rings of the bit on the bridle and back to the rider’s hands. The point at which the loops are attached to the girth is somewhat controversial.
You will see many horses ridden in draw reins attached to the girth in between the horse’s forelegs, but this is a harsh method and can be uncomfortable for the horse. The recommended method is to attach the draw reins halfway between the horse’s elbow and the saddle flap.
It is important to remember that draw reins should only be used with a gentle bit, such as a snaffle. They are not suitable for use with an inexperienced rider, and when used for the first time should be supervised by an experienced trainer.
Check Out What Is A Hackamore?
What Are Draw Reins Used For On Horses?
Draw reins are used as a training aid to help to encourage the horse to stretch his head forward and down. This helps the horse to move in a more balanced frame with a correct outline.
The draw reins are not used to pull the head down, but work by encouraging the horse to stretch forward. The rider applies very gentle pressure to the draw reins at the same time as encouraging the horse forward, and as the horse lowers his head, the draw reins are relaxed. This is a very delicate and intricate training method, and should always be overseen by a trainer if the rider is not experienced.
Draw reins are also invaluable for helping to encourage straightness within the horse’s frame. They create a tunnel through which the head and neck are aligned, helping the rider to continue this straight frame with the use of leg aids.
This training aid should not be a forceful process, and the reins are not there to crank the head into the correct position. The aim is to teach the horse that he can move in this way, rather than forcing him to do it.
How Long To Use Draw Reins For Horses
Draw reins should not be used for long periods of time, and should not be used for every training session. Using them constantly can be counterproductive, as the horse might start to hang onto the reins, leaning the weight of his head on the draw reins. If this occurs, the horse may be even more unbalanced when the draw reins are removed.
To use draw reins, firstly warm the horse up with your regular reins, then for between five and ten minutes with draw reins. You should then ask your horse to continue working in the same manner without using the draw reins. If he gets confused, apply the draw reins again, and then release them when he responds.
The draw reins should never be used continuously for more than ten minutes, with a break in between. If you achieve the desired result within the first ten minutes, then there is no need to continue working the horse in draw reins. When using draw reins it is important to finish the schooling session by working the horse on a long rein to allow him to stretch his neck.
Draw reins should not be used every day, as the horse may become dependent on them. They are most effective when used occasionally, to correct a schooling problem or to introduce a more complex training exercise.
How To Make Draw Reins For Horses
Most riders and trainers purchase purpose-made draw reins, made of either leather or webbing. These are soft and comfortable for the rider to hold, and will not cause any chafing or irritation to the horse.
Some trainers may make their own draw reins from a soft rope, but this requires careful attention to detail. The difficult part is creating a soft loop that sits under the horse’s girth without causing any rubbing or sore patches. If you have D-rings on your girth, this can provide a point of attachment without the risk of rubbing.
Read more about Why Do Horses Wear Blinders?
Are Side Reins The Same As Draw Reins?
Side reins are used as a training aid when lunging a horse. They attach to the bit of the bridle at one end, and the girth or surcingle at the other. A horse should never be ridden in side reins, as the pressure cannot be released if the horse panics.
Side reins have a similar mode of action to draw reins but are also useful for young and inexperienced horses. When breaking a horse to ride, they teach the horse to accept the contact of the reins on the bit. They can also help the horse to move with his body straight, with a balanced outline.
So, as we have learned, draw reins for horses are a training aid used to encourage the horse to work with his head lower and more extended. They also encourage the horse to move in a straighter manner. Draw reins should only be used occasionally and for short periods, otherwise, they may cause pain and discomfort for the horse.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on draw reins for horses! Do you think they are a useful training aid or an unnecessary gadget? Or maybe you have a question about how to use draw reins on horses? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Are Draw Reins Cruel?
If draw reins are not used correctly, they can cause pain and long-term injury to the horse. They should not be used every time the horse is trained, and should not be used for long periods. It is also important to make sure that the draw reins are not too tight for the horse.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE