I feel that lately I’ve seen numerous negative opinions floating around the internet lately about draw reins and their use in the equestrian world.
Even wikipedia seems to feel pretty strongly about their use: While a regular rein is the strap that attaches to the bit and is held by the rider, these types of reins slide through the bit ring adding leverage to the rider’s hands and arms, allowing the rider to force the horse’s head into a desired position.
I just wanted to throw out my two cents, and see what other people out there are thinking.
My two cents:
I do use draw reins on my mare. Not every ride, never to jump, and not to use as a short-cut. We tried O in the draw reins a few months after she arrived to try to guide her into a forward, comfortable frame. She is naturally heavier on the forehand, and this encouraged her to reach into the contact and use her back end. My standard for using them is to start off with the draw reins in contact, and walk, trot, canter. Usually O will soften and relax to carry herself around.
Then I drop the pressure and let her stretch down and we do it all over again, walk, trot, canter. It is a learning tool, and one that I think does a wonderful job for us. Could we do the same thing without it, yes…does it give me a bit more leverage, yes….do I use it as a crutch to cut training corners…NO.
Please note that because my horse has a lower headset we do clip the ends of the reins to the sides of the girth versus between the front legs. Works well for her.
With that said, I also have seen horrible examples of people using draw reins on their horses. Yes, I hate it, but I don’t think it should take away the value they can bring in the correct hands! Feel free to share your opinions, but please don’t blast me for mine.