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I was trail riding with a friend today and she told me that just last week, one of her most trusted mounts, a Thoroughbred mare in her 20s named Brandy, took off up a mountain with her novice rider along for the ride.

“She ran up the mountain?” I asked. Normally, Brandy just happily walks along when she is out on group trail rides.

“They were on a wider part of the trail, and she was feeling fresh with the cool morning. Brandy started to trot a few steps, the rider had her reins too long and didn’t know how to quickly shorten them to give a half halt that Brandy would have easily responded to, so Brandy decided this was a good place for a little run and they were off!”

Luckily, the unplanned sprint didn’t last long, and this rider was able to hang on. All turned out fine, but I have seen a similar scenario happen many times when riders are not proficient at shortening their reins.

They are unable to communicate to the horse, or perhaps even worse, as their hands fly up, and they grab abruptly at the reins, the poor horse gets yanked and jarred unnecessarily in their mouth and nose.

When we ride, our hands are important.

Being able to handle the reins easily and efficiently, adjusting them, shortening them, applying pressure, releasing pressure and being able to do all of this quickly, without needing to think about it, is a crucial part of being a good rider and being a safe rider.

Today, I want to share two exercises you can practice to be able to shorten your reins quickly in any situation. 

After you watch the video, leave a comment below and let me know which of the exercises you found most helpful.

See you in the comments!




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4 Responses

  1. Thank you, Callie!
    I just had a lesson and was lamenting my very active hands. These exercises should really help with that. Such a simple thing, but I’m finding that simple is better is so many instances. I like that your explanations are clear and concise and that you encourage practicing!

  2. It’s uncanny that this video just posted. I let my horse graze out on trial, and I am always ready to do the pull-through to shorten quickly if she spooks when I’m a the very end of my reins. Here I was thinking just a few days ago that I had invented the technique as I’ve never seen anyone do it or even talk about it. haha. Well, I guess I can say I “invented it for myself.” It’s a great technique. (I grab a little mane with one or two fingers as well when I’m poised to use the pull-thru.)

    1. A very useful tip. Last week I just had a situation with my lesson horse in wich knowingthat technique would have a lot safer! Thanks Callie!

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