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Draw Reins: To Use Or Not To Use

Submitted by member: Vic

A member of ours had a series of questions for panel expert, Geoff Teall, about draw reins. Below is his answers to each question.

Answer by Geoff Teall

1.  Are the use of draw reins a black and white issue in which they should never be used? Or if they are used, only by a trainer?

Nothing involving training horses is black and white in my opinion, and the use of draw reins is no exception. If they are used, the process should absolutely start with the trainer, but in certain situations draw reins could also be used by the student.

2.  Is there any gray area in which draw reins could be beneficial in a warm-up for either the show hunter horse or an amateur rider?

In general, by the time I reach the warm-up area for a class things are either set, or not set. This time for me is simply an opportunity for a quick walk, trot, canter and a couple of jumps—just enough to literally warm the horse up for the class. It is not a time for training in my opinion. Draw reins at this moment would signify to me that either my horse or rider are not yet ready for the class I am preparing for.

3.  If there is a gray area for their use, for what time frame and how many days/wk or days/month might an amateur rider use them on their show hunter?

If I think that draw reins would be beneficial in the training of a particular horse, I would use them as sparingly as possible, and only when I am actually training. I am very clear in my work with my horses and riders when they are “working” and when they are relaxing or having an easy day. The draw reins would come into play only on the days that I am actually training the horse or rider.

4.  If an amateur rider has a strong enough leg to correctly work the horse for enough time needed, I would imagine they would not be needed anyway, yes?

Forward is the answer to 99% of the questions riding and training present. Leg is the foundation of forward. In my experience, in the end, unless I can get a horse to work properly on the flat in a plain snaffle, I have not really arrived at my goal of having a horse that is properly schooled. That being said, if an amateur rider (or any rider) has enough leg and enough knowledge, then no, I don’t think draw reins are necessary. At best draw reins are something that may facilitate getting a horse or rider to the point that they can begin proper schooling without the draw reins.

5.  If a horse is worked in draw reins, could it create even more arthritic issues for the hocks than if they weren’t used?

My answer to this will be indirect. I think that soundness in our competition animals is based on proper work and conditioning. I think work in draw reins is a poor imitation of proper flat work, so I don’t feel that they are as beneficial to the soundness of the horse.

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Geoff Teall

Geoff Teall is one of the leading Hunter and Hunt Seat Equitation trainers in the country. Horses and riders who have trained with Geoff have gone on to win championships, medals and ribbons at major events including Devon, the AHSA Medal Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Capital Challenge, the Pennsylvania National, the Washington International, the USET Talent Search, and the National Horse Show. Geoff is an "R" judge for both Hunters and Hunt Seat Equitation. In addition to training and judging he also offers his expert coaching through virtual training. To learn more from Geoff Teall Virtual Training on Facebook and Instagram.

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