The horse reins (often called bridle reins) are the communication tool between the rider and the horse. They apply pressure to the bit in the horse’s mouth and help with steering and braking. Although the more experienced riders can use little to no pressure on the reins, they still need them to guide the horse and control his movement.
There are many different types of horse reins available, from classic webbed rubber reins to woven corded or leather reins. Some have small stoppers spaced at fixed intervals to help the rider maintain an even rein length. They are often marked with different colours to mark the stops. A popular type of web rein is the ‘Silver Fox Super Grip’, which combines webbed rubber with a non-slip cord for better grip.
The bridle reins are usually fastened to the girth, with the running side rein extending from the girth and over the bit rings to the rider’s hands. They can be fastened with a traditional buckle, ring or metal carabiner. If the girth is closed, the bridle reins can be attached to it with a metal clip, known as a ‘Warendorf rein’. The girth can also be closed with a girth strap to prevent the bridle from slipping out of place.
Auxiliary reins are used in some disciplines such as lunging or dressage, and can be a useful training aid for certain horses. However, these supplementary reins must be used correctly to avoid the negative effects they can cause. They are most commonly used to influence the horse’s head position, especially to improve flexion, but can be used for other purposes as well.
Most participants in this study only attach the auxiliary reins after the warm-up phase and half of them do not change them during the entire training session. This is a major problem, as it can be very hard for the horse to raise its head with this much tension on the lower neck muscles and may lead to breathing problems.
The main function of auxiliary reins is to encourage the horse to move forward with less pressure on its head. However, they should never be used to pull the horse backwards. This can be very stressful for the horse and may result in a loss of contact with the rider. In addition, if the auxiliary reins are buckled too tightly, the horse will not be able to flex and will remain behind the vertical (hyperflexion) which can also have negative consequences. To avoid these problems, the auxiliary reins should only be used occasionally and only under a trainer’s supervision. In this way, they can be used to teach the horse new movements and exercises without causing any stress to the horse. In any case, it is important that the trainer be present to monitor the horse’s reaction to auxiliary reins and to correct any incorrect habits. This helps to prevent the auxiliary reins from becoming a habit that could ultimately have negative consequences for both the horse and the rider.