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Draw Reins: What's your Opinion?

Draw reins are a hot topic on the H&R forum at the moment - what are your views? Here's what some of the H&R forum members have had to say

“Basically I can't believe people even still think about using these. They are so bad for the horse. I knew someone who was very much into muscle rehab and they often said when draw reins were used the muscles were incorrectly built, particularly in the horses chest and neck. She could tell a horse that had been ridden in draw reins a mile-off.” dominochase

“I don't like them and they definitely shouldn't be used in inexperienced hands. However, I have heard someone say that they successfully use them on a rearing horse - somehow she can stop it rearing by using them! So maybe they do have some uses?!” Snipper

“Obviously using draw reins to achieve rollkur is not acceptable. However, in the right hands they can be a useful aid - for example, a horse who is very unbalanced in canter can be ridden in draw reins to give him some sort of support until he sorts his legs out. Of course, draw reins should only be used when required to help a specific problem, not as a way of getting the horse 'on the bit'. In the right hands draw reins are not 'cruel'. I firmly believe draw reins in the hands of a good rider is a better situation than a rider with bad hands who desperately tries to get their horse into an outline by sawing away at its mouth. If I was a horse I know which I'd prefer.” horse_girl

Read more members' opinions here. What are your views on the matter? Join the Horse&Rider forum today and have your say!

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Using draw reins?

If you do use draw reins, remember the following:

• Avoid using draw reins if you are a novice rider

• Never use draw reins on a rearer

• From the rider’s hand, draw reins go from the outside of the bit to the inside, otherwise they can pinch the mouth

• Always use normal reins with draw reins

• It’s sensible to put a neck strap around the draw reins, so your horse doesn’t get a leg caught

• Draw reins should never be used to pull the horse’s head in - instead, keep a steady contact and think of riding the horse forwards into that contact

• Some horses will lean on the draw reins, in which case use lots of transitions to get him lighter in front

Views from the top

Showjumper Tim Stockdale says he’s not a fan of running reins: “I use them occasionally at home, but you’ve got to be careful not to make the horse stiff or that he doesn't lean on them. I tend to use them when a horse evades the aids and uses his strength against you.

Showjumper and trainer James Fisher says: “I’m not keen on working with draw reins as they put a lot of pressure on the lower jaw and can have an opposite effect when taken off”


When used for long periods of time, draw reins can cause neck and back pain for your horse, so be very careful.

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