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Work on reins: theory and practice

Reins work is an excellent training technique to support saddle work, useful for both the horse and her trainer. I have repeatedly noticed that horses love this type of work, because, on the one hand, it is easier for them (do not need to carry the weight of a rider), and, on the other hand, such work creates a closer connection between man and animal, since they literally work “Side by side”, and a person has to spend no less energy than horses.

The horseman, training the horse in this way, can learn a lot about the technical, biomechanical aspects of her training, because, working on reins, he sees her whole body, and especially her legs. Having the opportunity to observe exactly where and at what moment each leg is located and what it does, he can gain a sense of the right timing, which will help in working under the saddle. Since the person is not sitting on the horse, he can concentrate on the reins without worrying about landing.

Work on reins is also an excellent diagnostic tool, as the rider becomes apparent chains of causes and effects. If a problem arises in the saddle operation, the cause of which cannot be detected, it will be possible to identify it with a fairly high degree of probability by working on reins. Errors will not be masked by the participation of the rider’s weight and pendants.

The horse begins to work better under the saddle, since working on reins, it is easier for her to explain some things. The rider improves his sense of horse. Moving behind her and holding the reins in his hands, he gets a visual impression of the functioning of the back and hind limbs, flexion and balance. At the same time, he feels the whole body of the horse in his arms. Later, this visual impression can be correlated with the feelings that the rider experiences in the saddle. Thus, both types of work are mutually complementary, allowing you to get a positive effect.

Potential disadvantages

Of course, reins work has its drawbacks and limitations. For example, it is difficult to develop good lateral bending due to the lack of controls – weight and pendants. Many horses tend to push the croup up and go galloping “off the hill”, which is not easy to fix on reins for the same reasons. Therefore, reins training should be combined with regular horseback riding. At the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, horses who ride the reins work on the saddle four days a week and only two on the reins.

The biggest danger when working on reins is that the horse begins to slow down. To avoid this, you must regularly move the horse forward under the saddle, on the cord or on the double cord. An extension of the speed of the trot on the reins, and transitions between the trot and the gallop can also help. Horses that have already learned how to perform piaffe in their hands can take several piaffe steps with a trainer standing on their shoulders – this will restore the activity of the backside and also encourage the horse to move “uphill”.

Differences between working on reins (Long Reining) from working on two cords and Ground Driving

Reins are traditionally considered a form of riding rather than driving, which is often mistaken for. Therefore, we say, for example: we are going to turn or move on a long occasion (Long Rein). At its core, this is a type of collected work, which is practiced mainly on a collected trot or gallop, so it is not very suitable for young horses (unlike Ground Driving).

Driving and Ground Driving are done using reins for driving. The driver maintains a relatively large distance to the horse, and at the same time, unlike the reins, the young horse works a lot on the move. The horse is put on ammunition for driving, including a bridle. Work is usually limited to straight lines and simple turns. Working on reins, the trainer is close enough to the horse and can touch it, while the horse is wearing a bridle for riding. The reins are shorter than the reins for driving. The horse is trained in all dressage movements, including lateral movements, leg changes, pirouettes, piaffe and taking.

This type of training differs from working on two cords, during which a horse is put on hert and cords are passed through the rings on its sides. Working on two cords, the trainer usually stands in the center of the circle, and the horse moves around him. The circle can be moved up and down the long side of the arena. The horse works mainly on trot and gallop, however, the degree of collection is mainly lower than when working on reins. But you can easily turn work on two cords into work on reins, reducing the distance between yourself and the horse and becoming behind it. That is why working on two cords is a very good preparation and introduction to reins.

Timing and horse

Since most of the reins work takes place on a trot and gallop, it should not be started too early (before the second level of training). Horses that cannot yet be gathered enough…

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