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Did you know that how you hold the reins affects how balanced and stable you will be when your horse spooks or trips?

Or that it also affects not just your rein contact but how fluidly your whole body is able to move in sync with your horse?

Gripping the reins too tight or holding them too loosely can be equally as negative for your riding. This has to do with stabilizing versus mobilizing muscles as well as the difference between mobile or too-tensed joints.

In this video, I will show you how to hold the reins, so they don’t slide out of your hands, you can maintain good contact, and be soft on your horse’s mouth.

Hit play below and I’ll see you in the comments!


p.s. There’s a test you can to feel this from the ground – I bring our cameraman out from behind the camera to demonstrate this one… don’t miss it!


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37 Responses

  1. Great to visually see and learn the difference. I will now ride with my reins in this new position. Thank you xx

  2. Good demonstration of hand tension and how it effects balance, reactivity and overall body position/tension. I am a western rider and use split reins. Typically we ride w/ our hands flat and somewhat relaxed grip. Using one whole hand around both reins and a single whole hand around the rein on the corresponding side as the hand. Exchanging hands as needed during ride. Whole hand as opposed to between third and fourth finger to protect the ligaments from being sprained and to lend more strength of grip, if needed.
    Thanks! I always learn something from your videos.

  3. When learning to ride I was taught this, to hold the rein like you are holding a small bird in each hand, too tight will hurt the bird, too soft it will escape. The rein between 3rd finger and little finger, the thumb on top to steady and hold the rein.
    Good video Thankyou x

  4. Could you clarify?
    The tighter the grip the more Ken stood firm and unable to move him
    The lighter the grip , then ken was easier to move……

    1. Tightening your hand makes you easier to move Leah – give the exercise a try with a friend 🙂

      CRK Training Community Manager

  5. Thanks Callie for this video. My biggest problem (I do have many of them) has always been holding reins and no instructor has been able to get me / show me the right way over the last 4+ years. My arms would be straight/stiff when I wanted to shorten the reins. Many times I was also left wondering whether my arms were disproportionally smaller than my body. Also of course the universal problem – too tight reins or too loose! Wrapping your fingers around the reins in the right way probably will help me a bit in overcoming this – of course when I get back to riding.

  6. Can you tell me what brand bitless bridle you have on Ruger? When and why do you choose to use one?
    I’ve been considering trying one on my Appaloosa.

  7. Gosh is this timely! My instructors have repeatedly told me to close my fingers and shorten the reins. I’m the too soft example. I can’t wait to try holding the reins as demonstrated by Callie at my next lesson. Thank you!

  8. Wow this is the best description how to have soft hands! My FEI horse tends to get very strong; finally a way to keep him sop please. I had the most supple tempi changes today! Thank you!

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