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Rein Length: Part 2 - Examples

theory tips Feb 14, 2024
horse jumping and extending over a cross country jump
Part 2 of Rein Length
While as I've said in many posts, there is a lot more nuance and complexity to riding, let's talk about some generalizations with rein length.
In this post, I'm providing some examples of short versus long reins. It is all the same horse, same rider (me), and 3 of the photos are even from the same competition.
I drew the blue lines to draw your attention to the length of rein between my hand and what I am calling the "transition piece" of the reins (where the rubber grip turns back into leather), just for an easily identifiable spot on the reins.
I'll let my descriptions in the pictures do most of the talking, but I want to draw your attention to key areas to analyze between the pictures:
-rein length (length of blue line)
-elbow angle (open versus more closed/closer to 90 degree bend)
-fingers (slightly open to allow the horse to pull the reins through if he needs more room, but not open enough to throw away the reins otherwise)
-shape of the horse's body when on short reins versus long reins
-length of the horse's neck when on short reins versus long reins
Now another important item: rein length is dynamic. You need to be able to change in an instant. For example, going to the large downhill table in the one picture, I had short reins on the approach, then opened my fingers to allow the reins to slip as he needed to use his head/neck to drop on the backside, and allowed my elbows to open to give him space, and all of this to allow myself to throw my body backwards to stay and land in balance.

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