Tuesday, August 11, 2015


If you are a dressage purist, turn away now.  There be sea monsters here.

Done?  Need more time?  I'll wait. 

You're sure?  No fair ranting in my comments after all of the warnings.


I used draw reins on Theo.

Stop that, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?  Goodness sakes.

So yes, I used draw reins on Theo.  Before I continue, I do believe that draw reins are for use by experts only and can be very dangerous for someone that doesn't have an independent hand, seat, and training in their use.  Since I have all three and experience with how to use them for a specific goal, I went ahead and tossed them on in a recent ride.  I had the specific goal of working with mi papi on not flinging his head in the air during the upward transitions, and I've done this before.

Theo had draw reins used on him in the past.  Keep in mind, this horse used to be a bit of a nightmare, so I'm not particularly surprised.  He recognized what was going on as soon as I got on and I noticed a change in the way his ears were set.  He wasn't happy.  I warmed up as usual, trotting around on the buckle with his nose around his knees.  He was cool with that, but when I started to pick him up, the yucky ear set was back.

I left him off of the draw reins for awhile, then picked them up while doing transitions.  He's a lazy butt that tosses his head up rather than lifting himself up with his back.  He travels so nicely before and after, it's frustrating.  I've tried most of the tricks in my repertoire, but he still pops his head.  With the draw reins, I could take that option away from him.  He was off of the reins before and after, but I could feel him hit the reins during the upward transitions.

I call this doing weight lifting sets.  He did transitions for a few minutes, then long stretching.  Repeat.  By the end of fifteen minutes, he wasn't hitting the draw reins anymore.  He was also getting ticked off, so I hopped off and removed them.  I got what I wanted, so no point in pushing.  He got a long trot on the buckle while I messed with my position and his ears went back to happy position.  When I picked him back up and worked him again, he was better with the head popping.

The next day saw some soreness in his back so he got a serious rub down.  He also was less frustrating about that head pop when I rode.  I may need to tune him in again in a couple weeks, but it's a nice change to have him use his back instead of cheating and using his head.  Today was a jumping lesson and he did the nicest walk to canter transition, stepping underneath himself and staying right on my contact.  Fantastic!  He also jumped over plastic feed bags, scary blankets, and walked over the tarp on the first try.  That earned him yet another rub down with liniment and lots of cookies.  Like a lot of drafts, he seems to get sore easily.  Or he's just a weenie.  I'm not sure.

Tomorrow will be a trail ride if Mother Nature cooperates.  Mi papi has definitely earned himself a fun day of flopping in the woods.

1 comment:

  1. interesting! my mare does the head popping thing in canter transitions - but i have exactly zero experience with draw reins (not to mention none of the three things you stated as criteria), and my mare already has a tendency to duck behind the bit. so i think draw reins would NOT work in our case....

    that said tho, i'm curious about "the tricks in your repertoire" about solving this type of problem!