How to Hold Reins When Riding a Horse

When riding a horse, how you hold the reins is an important part of riding. The reins help you communicate with the horse and tell it when to turn and where to go. If you are an advanced rider, the reins can help you convey numerous signals to your horse to enhance your riding.

New riders aren’t always comfortable on a horse. However, learning to hold the reins correctly can help you ride easier. It will also prevent you from confusing your horse and making it uncomfortable. But when you are a beginner, how can you learn to hold the reins properly when riding a horse?

Direct Reining

Direct reining is the style most often seen in English-style riding. A rider should pick up the reins using both hands so that each rein sits between the little finger and the ring finger. The rein will then lay across the palm of the hand and come out over the index finger.

It is important not to grasp the reins too tightly when direct reining. This will make your hands tired quickly. It is equally important not to grasp the reins too loosely. Holding the reins loosely will render your rein aids ineffective.

When holding the reins, it is critical to keep your elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands in a straight line. This should create a direct line from your elbow down to the horse’s mouth. Your hands should follow the natural movements of the horse’s head and neck as it walks.

Beginners often make one mistake: pulling too much on the reins. If you continuously pull the reins and your horse’s mouth, the horse learns to ignore your cues. This results in the horse tossing its head in an attempt to relieve the pressure. Instead, relax when holding the reins and hold them with confidence.

Western Neck Reining

Sometimes in both English and Western riding, you may have a horse that neck reins. Unlike direct reins, when you neck rein, you will hold both reins in just one hand. Traditionally, this is done with your left hand. However, beginners should hold the reins in whichever hand is most comfortable.

When riding Western, you may have less contact with the reins. Feel the weight of the reins in your hand, but avoid pulling too hard. Like English riding, pulling hard on the reins will cause the horse discomfort. However, with Western riding, the horse may experience even more pressure because of the bit in its mouth. As such, pulling too hard on the reins may cause the horse to react more violently.

Interested in Riding a Horse? Call Us Today!

At Bear Creek Stables, we offer a wide variety of lessons and programs to fit any rider. From children and new beginners to advanced riders, we offer horseback riding programs for everyone. If you are interested in a family-friendly stable to board your horse or learn to ride, contact Bear Creek Stables today. We offer San Jose horseback riding lessons, summer camps, and more. Call us today at (408) 520-0803 or fill out our confidential contact form.

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