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Equestrian portrait of Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn , painted by David Morier around 1765. The Duke holds the reins.

Reins ( ahd. Zugil "pull rope", "device for pulling"; "rein") connect the bit in the horse's mouth or the corresponding parts of a bitless bridle with the rider's hand. They correspond to the lines of the coachman.

Reins come in all variations, made from a wide variety of materials and colors. The types of reins are essentially differentiated by the riding style in which they are used. The differences between western riding style and classic riding style are particularly serious, as both give the reins a different meaning.

The tying of the horse to the reins, which can be seen in every Western , is rejected in Europe, as there is a considerable risk of injury for the horse if it is startled. In Europe, however, it is also customary to tie a horse tightly so that it is still held even when there is a strong pull, whereas in America the horse is only tied loosely so that it can loosen when pulled, which prevents injury .

Structure and material

Classic riding

In classic riding (e.g. dressage ), closed reins are common, that is, the right and left reins are connected to one another. The width of the reins varies between 2 and 2.5 cm. With curb reins (see also curbs ) in a width of 1 to 1.5 cm, as there are two pairs of reins in the hand when the bridle is on a curb. Nowadays, combinations of leather and belt are most common: the front part of the reins is made of leather, the rear part of belt material (e.g. linen). On this there are so-called leather bars, which make it easier to grasp and prevent slipping. Also often found are rubber reins, which are actually leather reins covered with rubber for better grip. Such "anti-slip devices" make it easier for beginners in particular to maintain the correct rein measure ; They make it more difficult for advanced riders to regulate and adjust the rein length. That's why advanced riders like to use full-length reins made of leather. It may become slippery when it is sweaty or wet, but has the unsurpassable advantage that every movement of the rider's hand, no matter how small, is "delivered" directly to the mouth, provided the material is of good quality. Reins made of leather can also be found in shops as a braided version. However, this is rarely used, as it is often perceived as "too much" in the hand. The usual colors are black and dark brown.

Western riding

In contrast to the reins in the classic riding style, open reins, the so-called split reins, are common in western riding . Riding on a loose rein demands a mind of its own weight, which is a continuous support to promote, as a swing quickly to rein easier or would not dangle. A trained western horse would be irritated and try to interpret the unspecific signals as rein impulses. The most common are wide, heavy leather reins, but also reins made of nylon or similar fibers. Some bits also have a curb chain , for example on a spade bit, Salinas bit or half breed bit.

A special feature of the western riders is that they differentiate between training reins and reins for a fully trained horse. Training reins are usually heavier and wider than normal reins and are mainly used during the transition from two-handed reins to neck cleaning , i.e. riding with one hand. Here in particular you can often find reins made of braided or woven material, but also made of leather, which is often decorated, covered with raw hide, silver or other materials. The colors usually range from white ( rawhide ) to black. However, fabric reins - braided or knotted, open or closed - are also enjoying increasing popularity.

Closed round reins are rarely used in western riding, except in the tournament categories advertised for them. The so-called Romal Reins belong to the Californian bridles and are equipped with a whip-like extension, the Romal, which is held rolled up in the other hand.

The mecate, the reins of the bosal (classic hackamore , bitless bridle), is more of an exception among the reins. It is actually nothing more than a long rope, which is attached using a special knot in such a way that reins and lead rope are created at the same time. The horse can also be tied up during training. The mecate consists of horse hair, which is better perceived by the horse when it is placed on the neck due to its prickly appearance. Ideally, mane hair is used. But since this is always very scarce and you need a relatively large amount of it, tail hair is often used, which can also be processed even faster. This is not only noticeable in the price, but also in the quality and handling; Mane hair is much softer and grippy than tail hair. Because of the material, the mecate is also known as a hair rope .


Classic riding

In classical riding, the horse should stand by the bridle, that is, it is the following search the reins and respond to help the rider immediately. There are three types of rein management:

  • The short reins: The reins are taken up so far that the horse walks according to the reins. The rider follows all movements of the horse smoothly without disturbing it in the mouth. The attitude of the horse depends on its level of training. The ultimate goal is the gathering . During the work phases of a training session, the horse should walk on the short rein.
  • The long rein: The rein is taken up just enough to make contact with the horse's mouth. This form of rein control is used when warming up and during short breaks between work phases.
  • The rein given: The rein is left long without making contact with the horse's mouth. This rein guidance is used when riding dry and in the first few laps when warming up.

In every movement, the pressure on the horse's mouth is the same on both sides. In particular, this means that when riding a turn, the outer rein is left as much longer as the inner rein is shortened. To stop, the reins are briefly picked up and as soon as it can be seen that the horse is reacting to the help, the reins are released again.

Western riding

In contrast to the classic riding style, the trained western horse is always ridden on a long rein. The aim of the training is also in western riding the assembly, but it should take place without support, the fully trained horse should carry itself. The reins are not picked up to steer , but in interaction with weight and leg aids, the reins, which are guided one-handed or two-handed depending on the bit, are placed on the side of the neck that the horse is supposed to give way (neck cleaning) - so it goes to the other Page. The reins play a subordinate role in western riding. With a correctly trained horse, a stop with sagging reins is expected and the weight and voice aids are essentially used. In the training and correction of the horse, the easy acceptance of the rein is to be used as a third aid after the above described, in order to make the maneuver understandable to the horse. As with all signals, the acceptance is only made for a short time; as soon as the horse shows the desired reaction, the rein is immediately released as a reward.

Some horses are taught to “ ground tying ”, that is, the horses stand still when the reins are dropped.

See also

Web links

Commons : reins  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: reins  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations