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How To Hold Western Reins

How To Hold Western Reins

When you think of how to hold reins Western-style, it's helpful to keep in mind the reins are like the horse's steering wheel. Having the right set of Western horse reins and knowing how to use them can make the difference between a safe and comfortable ride and a complete disaster. Mastering how to hold your reins properly is one of the first steps in learning how to ride. This guide will cover the basics of learning how to hold Western reins and provide guidance on how to rein your horse successfully.

How To Hold Reins Western-Style vs. English-Style Direct Reining

There are many styles of Western horse reins and ways to hold them. In most instances, riders use one hand to hold the reins. This is called neck reining. Direct reining uses both hands to direct the horse and is most often used in English-style riding.

Type of Western Horse Reins

  • Roping Reins - Roping reins are closed reins made from a single length of leather or braided nylon or cotton and are attached to the bit in a loop around the horse's neck.
  • Split Reins - These Western riding reins are very versatile and are popular in Western pleasure, horsemanship and cutting.
  • Barrel Reins - Western horse reins for barrel racing are generally a bit shorter than roping reins. But unlike roping reins, they usually have knots on them.
  • Romal Reins - Romal reins are a unique style of Western riding reins because they include two separate pieces: the reins and a romal. They are easily distinguished by the buttons or knots braided onto the first 18 inches of each rein. The romal may include a strip of leather on the end called a popper.

How To Hold Reins Western-Style According to Bit Style

The Western horse reins you choose depend on many factors, including the type of riding you'll be doing, your bridle and the kind of bit being used. First, let's take a look at the different bits.

Holding Western Riding Reins with a Snaffle Bit

A snaffle bit works by utilizing direct pressure in the horse's mouth.

  • Hold the reins by grasping them with both hands, putting your fists together.
  • Slide your hands away from each other on the reins, bringing them directly out to the side.
  • Bring your hands back together, creating slack between your hands.
  • Pull your arms back directly toward your body, keeping your elbows at your sides.

Western Horse Rein Hold for a Curb Bit

The curb bit works by using leverage. Direct contact on the bit creates the action, so a more gentle hand is needed when using a curb bit.

  • Place your hand directly in front of the saddle's pommel, so there is plenty of room.
  • Create a fist with your hand with the top of the hand facing up.
  • Keep your index finger between the two reins, keeping the slack in the palm of your hand.
  • The excess rein should always be on the same side as the hand holding the reins.

How To Hold Western Split Reins

Split reins are not attached at the bottom, which makes them highly versatile. They can be used with either one or two hands and can be used to ground-tie when trail riding. But it's also easy to drop one of the ends.

If you're riding with split Western riding reins, make sure the bight or tail of the reins stays on the same side as your rein hand to prevent the horse's neck from interfering with your cues. Hold both the reins in one hand with your index finger tucked between the two reins, or use the bridge hold.

Bridging Your Western Riding Reins

When you are learning how to hold reins Western style, it's also important to familiarize yourself with bridging. In western tack, a bridge is used with a snaffle bit and split reins. To bridge your reins, follow these steps:

  1. Cross or fold the slack in the reins.
  2. Place the fold across the horse's neck.
  3. Press down on either side of the neck to remove any slack from the reins.

Benefits of Bridging Western Horse Reins

Whether you are a beginner rider or an experienced horseman, you'll find that there are many benefits to bridging. Bridging helps:

  • Prevent horses from pulling the Western riding reins from your hands.
  • Prevent losing your grip on the reins.
  • Provide constant, steady contact. This is especially helpful for beginner riders when they are first learning about judging contact and when it should be adjusted.
  • Maintain the correct hand spacing and keep the Western horse reins from being held too high.
  • Shorten your reins safely by allowing you to maintain a hold on both reins.

SHOP Western Reins

Shop Quality Western Riding Reins at NRS

Now that you know how to hold Western reins, it's time to put that knowledge to use. You'll find all of the tack you need at great prices when shopping online at NRS. Stock up on Western horse reins today!

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