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Why do we hold the reins the way we do?

๐‘๐ž๐ข๐ง ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ง๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง - Why do we hold the reins the way we do?

So from the moment your taught to sit on the horse your probably told to hold the reins in a certain way. We learn that and then just keep on doing it, but why?

The rein connection is one of the most important connections youโ€™ll have with your hands to anything, as most of the time itโ€™s connected to a bit that sits in the horses mouth. Sometimes itโ€™s connected to a hackamore or type of bit less bridle but even if this is the case if the reins arenโ€™t held correctly we can still cause damage and discomfort for our horses.

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ฒ๐ฉ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ ๐ซ๐ข๐ฉ!

When we hold our reins we hold them so they go between our little finger and our ring finger, this is because that part of the hand is ๐š ๐ฅ๐จ๐ญ more sensitive that the outside of our little finger, meaning we will naturally be less harsh and hold the reins too hard.

We then need to think about the type of grip, we want to hold our reins like weโ€™re holding a baby bird ๐Ÿฅ where we donโ€™t want it to fly away but we also donโ€™t want to squash it! This type of grip allows us to do quite a bit with just our fingers and therefore not requiring much arm muscle when using the rein aid.

If we hold the rein like this, it means that if we want our horse to slow or stop we only need to squish our fingers a bit tighter to create the rein aid required (bare in mind thereโ€™s much more going on for the halt/slow aid in the rest of your body too)

Holding the rein in this way also creates a soft giving rein and moves with the horses natural head movement and doesnโ€™t ๐›๐ฅ๐จ๐œ๐ค.

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ก๐š๐ง๐๐ฌ?

The height of where we hold our hands is vitally important, weโ€™re probably taught that we should have a straight line from elbow, wrist, rein and then to the bit.

To achieve this you will have to hold your hands at a certain height and that height will depend on where your horses is carrying their head, a novice outline will mean the hands are slightly lower than an advanced outline so you will need to look in a mirror or get a few videos of yourself to check.

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐จ๐ง ๐ฐ๐ก๐ฒ the height and line are important is because of the way the bit behaves in your horses mouth or for bit less around your horses face, when pressure is placed on the bit it will change shape in your horses mouth, the way a bit is designed is for it to apply certain pressures on certain areas of the horses mouth or face.

These pressures are designed when the rein is being held correctly, if we hold the rein at a different height, to what the bit has been designed to be used at (too low, or too heigh) it will create pressure on the ๐ฐ๐ซ๐จ๐ง๐  parts, thus creating an action that is unhelpful to the horse and worst still painful!

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ก๐ฎ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐ง๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ

We also will naturally have actions in our bodies that have very fast neurotransmitter pathways, basically actions that our brain will go too because that is most used or habitual, our biceps are one of the muscles that our brain has in its โ€œfavourites listโ€ to call upon, when we hold our reins at a certain height this makes it easy for our brain to call upon the biceps/shoulders, pecks, to use instead of the smaller less regularly used muscles of the fingers, wrist etc

This makes the aid suddenly go from a delicate hand position tweak to a whole arm and upper body pressureโ€ฆ..not needed or comfortable for our horses!

๐†๐จ๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ค๐ข๐ง๐ ? ๐€๐ฌ๐ค ๐ฆ๐ž ๐š ๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐›๐ž๐ฅ๐จ๐ฐ ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ

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