How To Hold Horse Reins? (Solved)

Your elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands should be in a straight line, so there is a direct line from your elbow down the reins to the horse’s mouth. As the horse moves its head and neck as it travels, your hands should follow the movement.

What is the proper way to hold a horse’s reins?

The correct way to hold your horse’s reins is to imagine giving someone a thumbs-up. Instead of wrapping the reins around three of your fingers, wrap the reins around four fingers, not including the thumb. There should be a loop; now imagine the loop of the reins as part of your thumb and you’re giving a thumbs-up.

How do you neck rein a horse?

Neck Rein Your Horse in 5 Steps

  1. Hold both reins in one hand.
  2. To turn left, lift your hand slightly and move it left to lay the right rein on the right side of the horse’s neck.
  3. At the same time as you lay the rein on the horse’s neck apply pressure with the left leg to cue the horse to bend around your leg.

What is the point of split reins?

What is the purpose of Split reins? To break young/inexperienced horses – you can adjust them to any range desired which makes it easier to help control a young horse’s head. To ride older horses that know how to neck rein – 8-ft long split reins allow you to adjust the length to a comfortable width.

How do you command a horse?

Common voice commands

  1. Whoa – Stop now.
  2. Walk – Walk on now.
  3. Trot (cluck-cluck) – Go slightly faster than a walk.
  4. Canter (kiss-kiss) – Run at an easy and comfortable speed.
  5. Back – Reverse until I say otherwise.
  6. Easy – Slow down.
  7. Stand/Stay – Stand still where you are and don’t move.
  8. Over – Move out of my way, please.

What does holding the reins mean?

: to be in control They held the reins of government/power.

How to Hold the Reins Correctly When Horseback Riding

The most fundamental rein aids assist you in communicating with your horse about the direction to turn and when to stop or back up. The more you progress in your riding abilities, the more you’ll learn to cue your horse with your rein aids in a more delicate manner. However, for the time being, you must learn to hold the reins correctly in order to successfully communicate your signals and avoid developing any negative habits that might confuse or make your horse uncomfortable.

Plough or Direct Reining

When ploughing or direct reining, which is most commonly seen in English style riding, you will be holding one rein in each hand, as seen in the picture. Take the reins and position them so that each rein is between your little and ring fingers. The rein will lay across your palm and emerge from your hand over your index finger at the end of the session. You should have your thumb pointing upwards, such that the buckle end of the rein emerges from the top of your loosely clasped fist. Using your index and middle fingers, draw a line across your knuckles at an angle of approximately 30 degrees above horizontal.

Don’t clench your hands too firmly.

  • It is possible to hold the reins too loosely, resulting in the reins slipping between your fingers and rendering your assistance ineffectual.
  • The movement of the horse’s head and neck should be mirrored by the movement of your hands as the animal progresses.
  • Your wrists should not rock, but should instead maintain a straight line from your elbow to your bit.
  • Neither being too heavy-handed nor too lax with the reins are desirable outcomes.
  • You may easily lose control of your horse if you hold the reins too loosely, and the rein aids you use will be ineffective if you do not tighten your grip on the reins.

Western Neck Reining

Having a horse with neck reins is really convenient, whether you are riding English or Western. In order to neck rein, you will need to grasp both reins in one hand at the same time. It has always been customary to hold the reins in your left hand since doing so freed up a cowboy’s dominant hand (typically the right hand) to tether livestock, handle gates, and perform other tasks. It won’t matter whether you choose to hold the reins in your right or left hand if you’re only going to be riding and not actively working cattle; either way will work.

  • You want your thumb to be pointing up, just like you would with direct reining, but at 45 degrees from horizontal rather than 30 degrees from horizontal.
  • If you have split reins, another way is to keep the reins in the same position with your hand but with the free end of the reins coming through the bottom of your fist, beyond your little finger.
  • It appears as though the reins are dangling from the horse’s shoulder.
  • Using excessive force when reining will result in the same difficulties as using excessive force when guiding with a direct rein.
  • Reins used for gaming or roping are shorter in length than conventional Rommel or split reins, and they are made of a single piece from end to end.

These are carried in a manner similar to split reins, with all of the fingers wrapped tightly around the reins and the horse’s neck. Gaming reins are shorter in order to reduce the likelihood of hands or props being entangled in the reins.

Know the Rules

There are different regulations for each disciplines; thus if you’re thinking about moving beyond trail riding or pleasure riding and participating in a competition, it’s a good idea to research what is expected of you before you start. For example, separating the reins between your index and second fingers is deemed inappropriate in various types of western lessons. Read the rules and have your coach look for any bad behaviors that might cause you to be disqualified.

How to Hold a Horse’s Reins

Documentation Download Documentation Download Documentation Concentrating on your rein hold will assist you in controlling the horse without inflicting harm on it. After some practice, each rider will develop a ‘feel’ for the bridle and learn how to communicate effectively with the horse through use of its reins.

  1. 1Get on your horse and mount it. Mounting on the left side is common since most horses are accustomed to being approached from this side when approached from the other side of the arena. Pick up the reins with your left hand, place your left foot in the stirrup closest to you, and then push yourself out of the saddle with your right hand (while still holding the reins). Your feet should already be in the stirrups when you go on the horse after mounting. 2 Check the type of reins you’re using. Riders in Western riding typically utilize split reins, with one for each hand, or they hold the reins in one hand while riding. However, in English riding, the reins are often tied together, producing a loop at the back of the horse. Except where otherwise specified, the instructions in this section apply to both kinds.
  • Loop reins are the most popular type of rein, with the exception of Western riding, and are used in a variety of disciplines including as dressage, jumping, polo, and horse racing.
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  • s3 Hold the reins on opposing sides of your body. Begin by holding one rein in each hand, or the opposite sides of a loop rein, in each hand at the same time. It is possible to learn to handle both split reins in one hand as you gain more expertise as a horseback rider. For the time being, controlling the horse with both hands will be more effective.
  • No matter how much expertise you have, you should always hold the loop reins with both hands.
  • 4 Take the reins and wrap them around your first three fingers. Keep your palm flat on the table. Wrap the rein around your pointer, middle, and ring fingers three times to secure it. Your thumb or pinky should not be wrapped around the ring.
  1. 5Make a loose fist with your hands and close your eyes. Holding the reins lightly, as if you were holding an ice cream cone, is a good strategy. 6 Position your hands such that your thumbs are pointing up and slightly toward each other. Make a fist and position your hands. Your hands should be around 10–15 centimeters (3.9–5.9 in) apart, and they should never be separated by more than the breadth of your horse’s neck when you are riding him. Your hands must be elevated over the withers of your horse. Maintain a calm position with your hands a bit above the saddle, in front of the saddle pad. Your elbows must be bent at an angle of about 90°
  2. 7 Maintain the proper amount of tension in the reins. You want just enough tension to keep the horse under control, but not so much that it restricts the animal’s movements too much. In order to prevent inflicting discomfort, it is preferable to hold them too loose rather than too tightly. Beginners should always use reins coupled to a moderate bit, such as a snaffle bit with D rings, to prevent their horses from becoming overexcited. In some cases, horses with a sharper bit or more sensitive muzzles may respond with surprise and discomfort if the reins are pulled too tightly. Advertisement
  1. 1Train your horse to respond to ground-tying commands. Horses taught to remain still when the cowboy dismounts and places one of the reins on the ground are commonly used by cowboys in the West. This is referred to as being “ground-tied.” 2Convert your working style to that of a rancher. Experienced cowboys build their unique relationship with their horses, and they may choose to change the reins or other aspects of their equipment as a result. Generally speaking, a cowboy engaged in ranch labor will hold the reins in his left hand and allow them to hang loosely from his shoulders. This frees up the right hand for tasks such as roping cows or other horse-related tasks
  2. 3 When horse racing, reins should be used. The long, looped rein that is distinctive of English riding is used by the jockeys, who also employ rubber grips to strengthen their grip on the horse. In a horse race, the jockey pulls low and tight, causing the horse’s chin to tuck into his chest, in order to collect the horse’s pace and reduce its gallop, and this is done to moderate the animal’s speed. This provides balance for both the horse and the rider, as well as a little amount of leverage and control for the jockey. Advertisement

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  • Question When riding with a double-bridle or a Pelham bit, how do I hold the reins of my pony in my hands? What will you do with the two reins? Imagining yourself giving someone a thumbs-up while holding the reins of your horse is the proper technique to do it. If you want to avoid wrapping the reins around three of your fingers, wrap them around four fingers, except the thumb. The reins should have a loop
  • Now envision the loop as part of your thumb, and that you are giving a thumbs-up
  • Question How many different sorts of bridles/reins or other riding styles do you use, and how many different ways do you hold the reins in this manner? Is there more than one method? Equestriangoose Answerer with the most points It will be determined by the discipline you practice. The two-handed thumb-on-top style is used by English riders, whereas western riders utilize a variety of reins that are all carried in different ways.

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About This Article

Summary of the ArticleXWhen mounting a horse, keep the reins in your left hand to ensure that you have a proper grip on them. After getting into the saddle, take one side of the reins in each hand and sit back in the saddle. Wrap the rein over your first three fingers, but don’t loop it around your thumb or pinky finger, for a more firm grasp on the horse. Then, with your thumbs pointing up and slightly toward each other, close your hand in a loose fist. Keep your hands around 10-15 cm apart and never wider than the width of your horse’s neck whether you are mounting or descending.

Continue reading to find out how to properly hold the reins when riding a horse.

Thank you to all writers for contributing to this page, which has been read 90,028 times so far.

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Sources: Certified Horsemanship Association, The American Quarter Horse Journal, and other sources When riding a horse, there are various different sorts of rein grips that may be utilized. They are essentially determined by two factors: what you intend to accomplish with the horse and the sort of bridle you are using in the horse’s mouth (or lack thereof). To continue reading this article, go to the following section:

  • Rein hold for riding in a snaffle bit
  • Rein hold for riding in a curb bit
  • Rein hold for riding in a bridle bit How to make your reins shorter
  • Taking the reins in the middle
  • The ideal length of the reins

Rein Hold for Riding in a Snaffle Bit

A snaffle bit is used to remove food from the corners of the mouth. While riding with western-style reins, you can hold your split reins in what is known as “the bridge,” which is a position in which your split reins are held together. Using this technique, the excess of each rein is placed on the opposite side of the horse’s neck, and the two reins are held together in the middle where they overlap. Holding the reins in the palms of your hands, make sure that the tops of your hands are erect.

  1. This gives you the ability to manipulate the horse’s mouth from either side.
  2. This is the area where your right rein will be beneath the bight of your reins (the connecting end piece of the reins).
  3. Each hand will be in possession of a single rein.
  4. Again, the pinkies can be on the outside of the reins or on the inside, clutching the reins in a fist-like manner.
  5. When a trainer is training a horse to transition from a snaffle to a curb, this is a common method of instruction.
  6. It is comparable to the western bridge style in that the slack of either rein is put on the opposite side of the clasp over the horse’s neck, similar to the western bridge type.

With this approach, however, only one hand is required to hold the reins at the spanned phase. The hand can go further up the neck to practice neck reining without coming into direct touch with the bit while rotating the wrist, or it can come closer to the bit when rotating the wrist.

Rein Hold for Riding in a Curb Bit

The curb bit operates on the principle of leverage rather than direct pressure, as does the snaffle. The reins are linked to the shank at the bottom of the animal’s leg. As a result, leverage is created. Every time the bit comes into close touch with the skin, there is an occurrence. Western holds have the extra rein (bight), which is on the same side as the reining hand (see illustration below). If you’re holding the reins with your left hand, the bight should be on the left side of the horse.

  • Position the hand in a fist, with the top of the hand pointing upward.
  • Your pointer finger should be positioned between the two reins, with the remainder of the slack going through the palm of your hand.
  • It is customary for the rider to grip his or her reins like an ice cream cone while in this position.
  • When not holding the tail or quirt section of the romal, it is put on the thigh or held in place with the free hand.
  • There are many different types of rein grips that may be employed according on the bit and the discipline.
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How to Shorten Your Reins

When riding two-handed, such as with an English or a western snaffle bit, “creeping up” or “walking your fingers up” is one method of shortening your reins. However, while it is definitely possible to shorten your reins in this manner, and it is not against AQHA regulations, it has traditionally not been regarded right for the hunter or English rider. For starters, running your fingers up the reins is not a safe practice. When you shorten your reins in this manner, you must fully let go of the rein with your fingers and thumb in order for it to creep up on you again.

For another, creeping up on someone is merely a gradual and methodical means of taking the reins away from them.

The Basics of Bridging Reins

The customary and correct method of shortening your English reins is to bridge them as described below: Use your right hand to shorten the left rein and your left hand to shorten the right rein to get the desired result. Whenever possible, the rein should pass from the bit through your ring and pinky fingers, over your palm, and out over your index finger, which should be kept in place by your thumb on top. To shorten your left rein, reach over and hold the left rein an inch up from your left index finger with your right index finger and thumb while swiftly sliding your left hand down the rein toward the bit with your right index finger and thumb Then, using your left hand, shorten the right rein by doing the same motion.

  • You may complete it in a single swift and fluid move.
  • Allowing the reins to trickle out through your fingers while keeping your hands locked around them is all it takes to relax the reins.
  • It allows you to maintain a more secure grasp.
  • The additional loop, referred to as the “bight” of the reins, can be placed on either side of your horse’s neck, and it should be placed between the rein and the horse’s shoulder to ensure proper fit.

A significant reduction in rein length, such as 8 or 10 inches, will result in too much slack in the opposite rein prior to the reduction in length, and you may lose control of the horse.

Riding With an Active Hand

An old adage goes, “A good rider has an active hand.” This is certainly true. Having an active hand does not imply that the rider can easily modify the reins depending on what she is doing; rather, it indicates that she can readily adapt the reins depending on what she is doing. For example, when a rider shifts to the two-point position in order to ride a hand gallop, she must shorten the reins in order for her hands to reach the horse’s neck properly. Learning how to properly adjust your reins is a component of developing good feel with your hands as well.

You must maintain a direct rein feel between your hands and the horse’s mouth, with the length of the reins adjusted to the appropriate length for the task at hand.

There’s a good reason for this practice — it helps riders become more effective on the track.

Bridging Reins

Both English and western riders use the expression “bridge your reins” to refer to a similar technique of using your reins on their horses. A bridge is used in conjunction with a snaffle bit and split reins in western tack. Because the reins are crossed over the withers, the tail of the left rein is on the right side of the horse’s neck and vice versa on the left side of the horse’s neck. Then you ride with both hands on the reins of the horse. In the early stages of training, before a horse is neck reined into a shank bit, bridging is employed.

It is possible to shorten your reins to offer you greater two-handed control of your horse, like a jockey would require in a race, or to let you to hold them in one hand when using English reins and a snaffle bit, using a bridge (as a polo player does).

It can also be useful when riding a horse that has a tendency to yank the reins from your hands.

Ideal Rein Length

Your reins should be in a straight line from your elbow to the horse’s mouth when you’re riding him. When the reins get excessively long, your hands either become too low or become excessively high in the air. You will lose your leverage, your guidance, and your efficacy as a result of this. Your reins serve as a steering wheel for your vehicle. Given that horses carry the most of their weight in their front end, the majority of your guidance and your balance should be in the front. Light touch on the horse’s lips and drive from his rear end are what you’re looking for.

Maintain a consistent amount of pressure on your horse and avoid shifting your weight from side to side.

Knowing How Hard to Pull on Reins

When your horse yields, release the rein pressure on the bit, and take hold when he takes hold of the rein pressure.

  1. It’s a game of give and take. If you grab a horse’s reins and feel like he isn’t giving you what you want, and you pull just a little bit more, you’ve probably applied enough pressure. Simply be patient and continue to work
  2. Take little steps toward gaining a foothold. It’s not an exact science, but if you jerk on a horse, he’s going to be angry at being subjected to that much pressure all at once. There is no certain pound or amount of pressure that you must apply in order to lift the lever. All you have to do is feel if the horse is willing to give you something or not. Try to find a happy medium. When you get a grip of a horse’s mouth and feel him give at the bar and in the poll, you know you’ve done enough pulling. Pulling too hard causes your horse to draw back, which indicates that you have overpulled.

As with people, horses are individuals, and some will be more sensitive to pressure than others, depending on their temperament. What a rider must learn is how to reach that nice medium between the two extremes. Horses who have been overtrained or mistreated might be a bit more difficult to train since they have already learned the wrong way. Sometimes you have to go back and use a snaffle bit instead of a snaffle bit. Do a lot of side-to-side exercises with direct pressure and a variety of pressure points to keep things interesting.

Horsemanship How-to: Hold Reins Correctly

Both English and western riders can make mistakes when it comes to understanding how to properly hold the reins. This interferes with their ability to communicate with their horse. The use of direct rein assistance necessitates the holding of a rein in each hand. In this method, the rider increases contact with the right rein to turn right and increases contact with the left rein to turn left, as seen in the diagram. A common mistake is for riders to grasp each rein as if they were driving a horse while wearing a harness.

Holding the reins in this manner not only causes confusion in the horse under saddle, but it also compromises the rider’s ability to maintain control.

  • It is essential that the rein be put between the ring finger and little finger on both hands while holding a snaffle rein (or if direct rein aids are used). In order to keep each rein flat on their hand, the rider creates a loose fist around them. The rider next secures their grip on the rein by pushing the slack or bight between their thumb and index finger, with their hand twisted slightly so that the thumb is at the top of the fist. When training a horse with direct rein signals, experienced riders can modify the way their hands are placed on the reins to suit the situation. Nonetheless, they will continue to exercise adequate control over the situation.

See the whole list of horsemanship how-tos.

How to Hold the Reins When Riding a Horse

Holding the reins correctly when riding a horse is a crucial aspect of the riding experience. The reins assist you in communicating with the horse and in instructing it on when to turn and where to go, among other things. If you are an expert rider, the reins can assist you in communicating with your horse in a variety of ways that can improve your riding. New riders aren’t always at ease on a horse because of their inexperience. Learning how to grip the reins correctly, on the other hand, might make riding more enjoyable.

What’s more, how can you learn to grip the reins properly while you’re just starting off with horseback riding?

Direct Reining

Direct reining is the kind of reining that is most commonly seen in English-style horseback riding. A rider should pick up the reins with both hands, such that each rein fits between the little finger and the ring finger on his or her right hand. The rein will then be laid over the palm of the hand and come out over the index finger of the other hand. If you are direct reining, it is crucial not to hold on to the reins too strongly. This will cause your hands to become fatigued very soon. The importance of not letting go of the reins should not be overstated.

When controlling the reins, it is vital to maintain a straight line between your elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands at all times.

As the horse moves, your hands should move in sync with the natural motions of the horse’s head and neck.

If you tug the reins and your horse’s mouth repeatedly, the horse will eventually learn to disregard your signals. As a result, the horse will throw its head in an attempt to ease the strain on its neck. Instead, maintain a calm demeanor when in control of the reins, and do it with confidence.

Western Neck Reining

It is possible to have a horse that neck reins when riding in both English and Western disciplines. In contrast to direct reins, when you neck rein, you will only need to use one hand to grip both reins. Tradition dictates that you should do this with your left hand. Beginners, on the other hand, should hold the reins in the hand that is most comfortable for them. The touch between the rider and the reins may be less while riding Western. Feel the weight of the reins in your hands, but try not to pull too hard on the reins.

Western riding, on the other hand, may cause the horse to feel even greater pressure as a result of the bit in its mouth.

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How to Hold the Reins

We’ll start with independent reins, then move on to bridges and single-handed reins, which may be used for both single snaffle reins and double reins. Snaffle Reins with Independent Snaffles The most common bridle for young riders and horses is the snaffle bridle, which is made up of a number of different parts. Move your mouse cursor over the numbers to see them larger “> The following is an example of a formalized formalized formalized First and foremost, the reins should not be twisted, and they should be kept at the same length on both sides of your horse’s neck at the same time.

  • At this moment, you should shut your hand and lock the rein by placing your thumb on the second joint and the rein itself.
  • When you hold a candle, your thumbs should always be on the top of the candlestick.
  • Your hands’ height will be determined by the line that runs from your elbow, through your lower arm, hands, and reins, and out to the bit (see illustration).
  • Tense, turned-in, or turned-out wrists are a problem.
  • A typical mistake is to keep your hand half-open, which allows the reins to slide between your fingers.
  • The straight line of the reins will be broken by placing the hands facing down and the knuckles on top.
  • Snaffle Reins that may be used with one hand If you are participating in Mounted Games, there may be times when you will need to grip your reins with one hand while leaving your other hand free to maneuver the horse.

Move your mouse cursor over the numbers to see them larger “You should make sure that your reins are not twisted and that they are the same length on both reins.

Once this occurs, both reins will rest on the palm of your hand and depart the hand between your index finger and thumb.

Snaffle Reins with a Bridge Young riders who have not yet developed a balanced seat or an independent hand are better served by utilizing bridging reins instead of straight ones.

You’ll be able to construct a bridge across your horse’s withers this way.

As well as in Australian Stock Horse competitions and campdrafting, bridged reins are commonly used, generally in conjunction with a split rein.

If you use these bits, you will have four reins coming out of the bit, two on each side of the bit.

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There are several other methods to hold double reins, but the most popular is to hold one curb rein and one snaffle rein in each hand, with one curb rein in each hand.

After that, both reins travel over your palm and leave your hand together over the index finger of your right hand.

The remainder of the reins will fall below your hands and rest on your horse’s right (offside) shoulder.

In other words, you should ride with your snaffle rein and only use the curb rein when absolutely necessary.

Double reins should only be used by experienced riders who have strong hand strength.

Double Reins with a Single Hand Given that it is also referred to as the Cavalry Hold, it should come as no surprise that it is mostly utilized for ceremonial reasons nowadays.

Once across your palm, the reins would exit your hand between your index finger and thumb, where they would be tucked away.

Because your horse should still be ridden with the snaffle reins, you should keep the cub reins a little looser than usual.

Splitting the reins Move your mouse cursor over the numbers to see them larger “Split reins are often two independent reins made of simple leather that are not joined to each other or tied together in any way.

You can use either hand to grasp the reins, but because the majority of people are right handed, the left hand is the most usual hand to use to grip the reins.

By using your index finger, you may either hold the reins together or split them.

The two reins then escape your closed hand, with the ends of the split reins dropping down the same side of the body as the rein hand (left hand = left shoulder, right hand = right shoulder), as shown in the diagram below.

If you grip the ends of the split reins, you will be able to move them.

Romal Reins is a Spanish footballer who plays for Real Madrid.

Please keep in mind that we did not have Romal reins on hand for this lesson, so we utilized split reins.

In this position, the reins run through your fist and out of your hand over your thumb, which softly seals your hand, as shown.

If you want to split the reins, you can’t use your fingers and you have to hold the end of the reins (the romal) in your non-rein hand, which rests on your thigh. The romal must be kept at least 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) away from the rein hand to be effective.

How to Hold the Reins in English Riding

Getty Images/IPhotodisc/Photodisc/IPhotodisc The correct way to hold the reins is one of the most important aspects of English horseback riding. Several instructions are communicated to your horse by the position of your hands, including how fast or slow he should travel, whether he should turn right or left, and if he should start or stop. Having a buddy record you while you’re riding might be beneficial since it can be difficult to assess your own hand, wrist, and rein posture when riding because you are looking down from above.

Overall Position

Consider the image of a piece of elastic being stretched from the horse’s mouth to the rider’s elbow. It is important that the bit, reins, and rider’s hand, wrist, and elbow make a nearly perfect straight line that may be tightened or loosened like a piece of elastic when used together. At the trot, the elbow opens and shuts like a hinge, and it may bend slightly during the canter to keep a calm, consistent pressure on the reins throughout the canter.

Finger Position

When holding a single rein, the rein should pass between the ring finger and the pinky or little finger on the other hand. In the next step, the rein travels up and under the palm at the base of each finger, emerging between the thumb and index finger. Pinch the rein between the thumb and index finger to ensure that the rein is maintained stable during the maneuver. It should be flat against the index finger when held in this position. The fingers should be kept closed at all times.

Wrist and Hand Position

In order to maintain proper form, the wrists should be relaxed and held straight out from the arm without bending in or out. The wrists should never be bent to the point that the knuckles are pointing in the direction of the horse’s ears. When riding in the three-point position on the flat, the hands should be kept a few inches above the horse’s withers and roughly four inches apart from one another. In the two-point position or while jump-riding, the hands travel up to the horse’s neck until they are approximately midway down.


The length of the rein is determined by the horse’s pace and activity. For regular riding and training, the reins should be held such that there is a straight line between the bit and the hand and that there is no slack in them. When riding in an arena or ring, excess rein is generally draped to the inside of the horse’s neck, but when riding on trail, it can be draped to either side. When you lift your hands up to the horse’s mane and crest during jumping exercises, the reins make a little loop in the process.

References Photographic Credits Biography of the Author Jeanne Grunert has been writing professionally since 1990.

How to Properly Hold Horse Reins

Photographs courtesy of IBananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images Your reins let you to speak with your horse directly through the bit in his mouth, which is controlled by your hands. In order to communicate effectively with your horse, you must convey the appropriate signals through the reins. If you are not in complete control of the situation, it might be tough to communicate effectively. Because he does not comprehend what you are saying, your horse may become confused or perhaps do something you do not want him to do.

Step 1

Pick up one rein in each hand, palms facing down towards the horse’s withers, and place them on the ground. Ensure that you pick up the reins equally so that your hands are in the same spot on each rein and that your horse feels an even amount of pressure on the reins.

Step 2

Run the rein between your ring finger and pinkie finger to tighten the hold. Adjust the position of your hands so that your palms are facing each other and your thumbs are pointing upwards. Your hands should be kept close to the horse’s neck and withers at all times.

Step 3

Holding the western split reins one handed is necessary for neck reining in the western style. Placing them one on top of the other in your non-dominant hand will allow you to pick them up more easily (if you are right-handed, this will be your left hand and vice versa). Between your thumb and index finger, the right rein will be held in place. The left rein is located between your index finger and middle finger on your left hand. You should have your thumb pointing upwards towards the sky, and your pinkie finger pointing downwards towards the wither.

  • It is never acceptable to twist your reins. Before you get on your horse, check that all of the reins are straight and in good shape.

Photographic Credits Biography of the AuthorJen Davis has been writing professionally since 2004. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, and her freelance stories have appeared in publications such as “Horses Incorporated,” “The Paisley Pony,” and “Alabama Living.” She is a member of the National Press Women’s Association. Davis graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia, with a Bachelor of Arts in communication with a specialization in journalism in 2012.

How To Hold The Reins When Riding Western Style

Learning how to properly grip the reins is one of the most important aspects in becoming a horse rider. The type of bridle on your horse, as well as your objectives, might have an impact on how you place your hand. Your objective should be to communicate in a clear and effective manner. This instruction will be beneficial to both novice and seasoned western riders alike.

The Snaffle Bit

It is customary to grasp each rein in one hand and lay the excess on the opposite side of the horse’s neck. The bridge is formed by the overlap in the middle, which is referred to as the bridge. If the surplus rein is not grasped by the pinky finger of each hand, the fist can be formed around it. This position is particularly effective when used with split reins since it allows for direct pressure on both sides of the horse’s jaw at once. Trainer’s holds can be used to transfer horses from snaffle to curb bitting without hurting the horse’s mouth.

The extra rein falls on the opposite sides of the neck on each rein, which is done in the same manner as the first. This time, the rider will only need one hand to grab the reins in the middle of the horse.

The Curb Bit

Riders that utilize this leverage bit often only use one hand when doing so. The reins should be grasped in front of the saddle’s pommel with the palm of your hand. The excess rein would fall to the side of your hand that is now holding it. Using your right hand to hold the reins, the excess rein will fall to the right side of the horse’s neck, as shown. If you have split reins, your pointer finger should be between them. When riding with romal reins, the rider holds the reins in one hand, similar to holding an ice cream cone.

Take a look at this video instruction to gain a better understanding of the right positions: Instructions on How to Position Your Horse in Front of Your Leg

How To Hold the Reins to Improve Your Horse’s Performance

Years ago, I was invited to speak at a convention of the American Riding Instructors Association, and I was honored to do so. George Morris, the well-known jumping coach and competitor, described this notion in his speech to the Association by using the phrase “educated hands.” Develop “educated hands,” that is, hands that are sensitive to the horse’s mouth, in order to get the most out of your riding, whether it be dressage, jumping, or hacking out. CONSIDER THAT YOU ARE A HORSE. The way the rider interacts with the horse’s mouth is the most significant thing from the horse’s perspective.

  • Your horse and you may communicate with each other through these.
  • The most frequent mistake and methods to rectify it are listed below.
  • In any case, you will find yourself tugging and see-sawing on your horse’s lips with unfeeling, lifeless hands if you keep your reins in place.
  • During this time, your horse may dive under the bit to escape the “dead feeling” or lean on your hands in an attempt to stabilize all of the uncomfortable movement.

Solve Your Rein-Management Issues

QI’m having a hard time synchronizing my split reins at the moment. I’ll confess that I’m a little clumsy, but I believe that with a little explanation and coaching, I could “get it.” Can you give me any pointers or methods on how to use split reins in various configurations, as well as why you use them? Caitlin Morgen, from Utah Split reins may be used in a variety of ways while teaching your horse, and you are correct that there are many various methods to do so. Positions are more limited in competition, depending on the class you compete in and the regulations of the organization, so be careful to read those before you compete in order to avoid disappointment.

  1. When it comes to appropriateness in terms of usage, it doesn’t matter how you hold your reins.
  2. Using a chair, a fence rail, or any other horizontal anchor, you may practice by tying your reins to the object.
  3. Take some slack and then return it.
  4. In order to avoid pulling so hard that you frighten your horse with an unexpected—and unnecessary—jerk on his mouth, you must first grasp what it means to have a feel on your horse’s mouth (you may feel the bit make small contact with his mouth’s bars).
  5. Maintain control of your hands by keeping them in ‘the box.’ In most situations, the ultimate aim is to be able to bike one-handedly.
  6. When reining, you should create an invisible box that is no higher than a few inches above your saddle horn, no lower than your horse’s withers, no more than 1 foot in front of your horn, and no farther than a few inches behind the horn.
  7. Pretend you’re holding a stick in your hands right now.
  8. Using the stick, you may prevent your hands from becoming too close together or too far apart, as well as ensuring that both your reins are working in the same direction as each other.

In other words, as your right hand moves forward, your left hand moves back, and vice versa. When both hands are centered, they are said to be level.

Four Rein Positions

1: Reins that have been crossed over I’ve crossed the reins over my horse’s withers and tied one tail to either side of the horse’s back. I’m waving my left hand in the air to demonstrate that I’m holding the reins with my small fingers between them. My hands should be level at all times; this is simply for illustration reasons. I can simply adjust the length of the reins between my two hands, which is known as the bight, to meet my specific riding needs. This is a useful and widely used rein configuration for horses.

  1. If you accidentally lose a rein, it will rest on your horse’s neck rather than falling on the ground, where it may be stepped on by your horse and provoke a scuffle.
  2. A loop of the left rein is tied over the palm of my left hand to prevent it from dragging on the ground on its left side.
  3. Numerous horse trainers favor this rein arrangement because it allows them to effortlessly switch between one-handed and two-handed riding, which is beneficial either educating an older horse or training a young horse for one-handed reining.
  4. Don Dodge, a horseman who has received several Hall of Fame accolades, is the inspiration for this rein arrangement.
  5. The reins are crisscrossing my hand, as you can see in the inset photograph.
  6. To remember to drop your left hand and allow slack to develop on that rein as you reach down and begin tugging on the right rein, think of it like this: 4: Proper Split Reins are essential.
  7. Due to the flatness of my hand, my reins are evenly distributed on both sides of my horse’s neck.
  8. In this position, I would be shoulder-reining rather than neck-reining my horse if I attempted to steer him from this position.
  9. Always remember to maintain your shoulders, hips, and seat square as you move your hand.
  10. Al Dunning, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, has produced world champion horses and riders across a wide range of disciplines.

He’s been a professional trainer for more than 40 years, and his knowledge and experience have led him to write books, create DVDs, and launch his own online mentorship organization, Team AD International, to name a few accomplishments (

How to Hold Reins

Reins that have been crossed I’ve crossed the reins over my horse’s withers and tied one tail to either side of the horse’s neck. In order to demonstrate to you that I have my small fingers between the reins, I have my left hand raised in the air. Note that my hands should be level; this is solely for demonstration reasons. I can simply adjust the length of the reins between my two hands (known as the bight), depending on my needs. Essentially, this is a practical and often used rein configuration.

  • A dropped rein will rest on your horse’s neck rather than falling to the ground, where it may be stepped on by your horse and result in a catastrophe.
  • A loop is made in the left rein and held there with my left hand to prevent it from dragging on the ground on the left side.
  • Several horse trainers favor this rein arrangement because it allows them to effortlessly switch between one-handed and two-handed riding, which is beneficial whether educating an older horse or training a young horse for one-handed reining.
  • It is named after Don Dodge, a horseman who has received several Hall of Fame accolades throughout his illustrious career.
  • The reins are crisscrossing my hand, as you can see in the inset shot.
  • To remember to lower your left hand and provide slack in that rein as you reach down and begin tugging on the right rein, refer to the diagram below.
  • Riding one-handed with split reins is done correctly in this video.
  • Above my horse’s mane line, somewhat front of the horn, and slightly higher than my horse’s neck, I’ve placed my hand.
  • You must place your hand slightly up and forward during reining in order to achieve proper neck reining.
  • Make sure you don’t sway your body in one direction since your reins will not be evenly distributed, and the unequal weight distribution may cause further difficulties for both your horse and yourself.

In his more than 40 years as a professional trainer, he has used his knowledge to write books, create instructional DVDs, and launch his own online mentorship organization, Team AD International (

Know Which Type of Reins You’re Using

You should first become familiar with the sort of reins you’re using so that you may continue to ask questions and learn about the right practices as time goes on. Bridles with split reins are used by western horsemen. One long rein on either side of the horse’s bit, which may be connected together at the saddle, is included in this set-up as well. Traditionally, English riders have used loop reins, which are joined together at the end with a buckle. While there are a few additional sorts for more specialized purposes, these are the two types that almost all passengers rely on for their transportation.

See also:  How Big Is A Horse Dick? (Solution found)

How to Hold Western Split Reins

In order to ride Western, you must learn how to properly grasp your horse’sWestern split reins, which may be held in either one or both hands. One rein in each hand, with just enough slack between your hand and the horse’s head that the reins can dangle slightly and your horse can move his head freely, but you can still feel tension when you pull on the reins. Once you’ve determined the proper hand positioning, loop the reins between your first three fingers and your pinky finger, letting the ends of the reins to hang over your index and middle fingers.

If you have neck reins on your horse, you may wish to knot the reins together and hold them in one fist to keep them from slipping.

How to Hold English Loop Reins

There will be less uncertainty involved because the English reins create a full circle and are far shorter than the Western reins. Aim for a straight line from the horse’s mouth and bit down the reins and into your hands, arms, and elbows as you are riding. This requires you to hold the reins in your hands a few inches above the horse’s withers, roughly four inches apart, and with your forearms completely straight. Then, with your ring and pinky fingers, loop the reins over your palm and out between your thumb and index finger, and you’re finished.

In addition, you’ll want to make sure that your English reins are the right length for your horse.

For more assistance, please contact us at 800-551-6279!

How You Hold the Reins Can Make You Unbalanced

You may not have realized that the manner in which you hold the reins might influence how balanced and stable you will be when your horse spooks or trips. What if I told you that it has an impact on not just your rein contact, but also how effortlessly your entire body can move in unison with your horse? Gripping the reins too tightly or holding them too loosely can both have detrimental effects on your riding technique and performance. This has to do with the difference between muscles that stabilize and muscles that mobilize, as well as the difference between joints that are movable and joints that are too tight.

Please click on the play button below, and I’ll see you in the comments! Calliep.s. To experience this from the ground, there is a test that can be performed – I call our cameraman out from behind the lens to demonstrate. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!


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37 Responses

  1. Thank you for your assistance with the rein holding demonstration. This is a tremendous assistance
  2. Excellent. I’m going to give it a go. Please advise on an excellent brand of bitless bridle if you are considering purchasing one.
  1. Hello, Jacqueline. You may see a video on bitless bridles by clicking on the link below. – Julia is the Community Manager at CRK Training.

You have a natural aptitude for instructing. It was both informative and beneficial. Thank you very much. It’s quite helpful to be able to observe and understand the difference. I’ll be riding with my reins in this new position from now on. Thank you really much xx WOW.that was a huge eye-opener for me. Thank you for your interest in the trial. thanks What sort of saddle are you using when you’re out riding? It appears to be comfortable!

  1. Hello, Molly. This saddle is made by the Black Country company. Juliana is the Community Manager at the CRK Training Center.

Exceptional illustration of hand tension and the implications it has on one’s balance, responsiveness, and total body position/tension I am a western rider that prefers to ride with split reins. Typically, we ride with our hands level on the ground and a somewhat relaxed grip. Using one whole hand to wrap around both reins and a single whole hand to wrap around the rein on the same side as the hand Changing hands as required throughout the journey. In order to avoid spraining the ligaments between the third and fourth fingers, the entire hand should be used rather than only the third and fourth fingers.

  1. Your films constantly provide me with something new to think about.
  2. This is a fantastic suggestion!
  3. Thank you very much, Callie.once again!
  4. When I was beginning to ride, I was told to hold the reins as you were carrying a little bird in each hand; if you hold the reins too tight, the bird would be wounded, and if you hold them too gently, the bird will flee.

Very good video. Thank you really much x Could you please elaborate? The firmer Ken’s hold became, the more he remained solid and unable to move him. The lighter the grip, the simpler it was for Ken to maneuver.

  1. Take another look at the video. What you mentioned is precisely the contrary of what I understood
  2. Tightening your hand makes you more difficult to move. Try the activity with a buddy, Leah. It will be beneficial. JuliaCRK Training Community Manager
  3. JuliaCRK Training Community Manager

Wow! It was a good demonstration. “Hold your reins as if they were small birds,” as Sally Swift advises in her song. Thank you, Callie, for making this video. Holding the reins has always been my biggest issue (and I have many others), and no teacher has been able to help me or demonstrate the proper method to do it in the previous 4+ years of trying. In order to shorten the reins, I would have to keep my arms straight and tight. I was also left with the impression that my arms were disproportionally smaller than the rest of my body on several occasions.

The proper manner to wrap your fingers over your horse’s reins will most likely assist you in helping me overcome this — after you get back into the saddle, that is.


You are very fantastic.

  1. If you couldn’t tell, we have a good time on our filming days if you couldn’t tell. Juliana is the Community Manager at the CRK Training Center.

What kind of bitless bridle do you have on Ruger, and where did you get it from? When and why do you decide to make use of one of these devices? I’ve been debating whether or not to try one on my Appaloosa.

  1. Hello, Vicki. You may view our bitless bridle demonstration video by clicking here. – Julia is the Community Manager at CRK Training.

That’s incredible – I’ve been riding since I was ten years old and am now 69 years old, and no one has ever described how to hold the reins in that manner before. I can’t wait to go for a bike tomorrow and try out different hand positions! This is an excellent video!

  1. Cindy, good luck with your practice! Juliana is the Community Manager at the CRK Training Center.

Wow! Extremely beneficial. I was the one with the overly soft hands. Thepushing exam towards the end proved to be really beneficial.

  1. Great! Laura, I’m delighted you found the image to be helpful. Juliana is the Community Manager at the CRK Training Center.

Great! Thanks for letting me know, Laura. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Julia, Community Manager at CRK Training;

  1. Caroline, I’m delighted you found this video to be useful! Juliana is the Community Manager at the CRK Training Center.

Oh my goodness, this is so timely! On several occasions, my instructors have instructed me to shut my fingers and shorten the reins. I’m the overly sensitive one. I can’t wait to try my hand at gripping the reins, as Callie demonstrated during my previous session. Thank you very much!

  1. Carrie, I hope everything goes well the next time you get behind the wheel! Juliana is the Community Manager at the CRK Training Center.

Thank you so much for providing this information. If possible, I’d want to watch an example of riding with one hand only. Wow, this is the most accurate description of how to get soft hands! My FEI horse has a tendency to become overly powerful; please find a way to keep him under control. Today’s temperature variations were the most flexible I’ve ever experienced! Thank you very much!

  1. Jane, you’re amazing! Juliana is the Community Manager at the CRK Training Center.

Thank you, Callie, for providing further information on this subject! I believe it is something that is frequently overlooked during a rider’s early instruction, which can lead to the development of bad habits that are difficult to break.

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As a result of seeing Callie on YouTube, I decided to enroll in the Balanced Riding course. I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge from this training. While learning the foundations of riding while young, you may find yourself drifting so far away from them in other abilities that you are learning that you may find yourself forgetting or not effectively employing those fundamentals any more. Moreover, she has successfully restored my previous level of comprehension, notably regarding how to ride with the seat.

So that’s been enormous, and it’s really transformed the way I ride.

I just wanted to express my gratitude to everyone for all of the comments and compliments I have received while browsing this website.

As a matter of fact, I rode my daughter’s horse outdoors in the ring for the first time since she returned home from her free lease in September.

Though I was only out for a short walk, I felt confident in everything I had learned thus far.

Tammy Lynn Wright is a woman who lives in the United States.

That is precisely what I received when I purchased the CRK Balanced Rider Series bike.

When she speaks about her insider knowledge of horse care, training, and riding, she is succinct and to the point.

In the same vein as the rest of Callie’s work, this program is educational, intelligent, and evidence-based.

In particular, the videos on “how to” assist your horse handle his fear were beneficial (in that, by helping my horse manage his periods of anxiety, I am better able to control mine).

This is one of the reasons why I appreciate your videos and seminars so much.

Your approach is focused on positivity, and as a result, it is kind and kind, while yet being quite successful at the same time. You must collaborate with the horse rather than against him. THANK YOU SO MUCH! – Rosanne Wellmaker is a writer and editor who lives in New York City.

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