Holding The Reins

Adventures in Saddle Seat

Enjoy the ride.

Schooling session at Full Circle Horse Park. Rodney and I are walking toward the ring to use the mounting block. Woman and horse walking at us. I notice that she has leading her horse in the approved fashion: right hand on the reins near the bit; left hand holding the excess. If the horse acts up, she has close control with one hand and a second chance to keep long-range control if the horse shakes off the first hand.

I realize I am not leading my horse in the approved fashion. The reins are flipped over Rodney’s head, laying on his neck. I have one hand lying loosely on a curve of one rein. If he spins away, I’m toast. He’s gone for a good gallop.


Not very Pony Club of me.

I blame saddle seat.

For a few years in there, the only bridled horses I dealt with were lesson horses at Stepping Stone Farm. Most of the horses wear a work bridle, which comes with two reins and a running martingale or one rein and a German martingale. There’s no flipping those reins back down. You’d end up with a snarl of leather straps. In the vanishingly small number of cases that my mount had a double bridle, I tacked up – or more likely someone tack up for me – and then left the heap of reins in place to walk the short distance over to the mounting block.

At home, I’m less worried about control and more concerned with possible breakage. We groom in the run-in shed and ride in a flat area of their pasture. They are never outside of an well-enclosed space. If a horse goes walkabout, they just run back to the barn. If the reins are trailing on the ground, they risk stepping on the them and hurting themselves and/or snapping the reins.

Rodney and I need to brush up our manners for going out in public.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

4 thoughts on “Holding The Reins

  1. My horses would walk by me even if i didn’t have a hand on the reins or their neck. Priney would follow me and stay where i put her even if i didn’t have a halter or bridle on her. Chief would actually get annoyed if i walked further away from him than he liked. He never crowded or pushed me, stayed at a nice distance as if i had a lead rope on him, but he’d shake his head and curl his lip until he was the ‘right’ distance from me.

  2. Horsemanship is like yoga. So many details to remember all at once that you lesve your other worries back home.

    It’s a good thing.

  3. Nice horses!

    In horses, most of the details are safety related. Such as keeping hold of your horse in a strange location. Doesn’t so much clear one’s mind as give you a whole new set of things to worry about.

  4. I will admit, it took me awhile to get used to having my horse walk 3/4 of the (loose) lead rope behind and slightly to the side. Taught him that when I stop, he stops. When I take a step back, he takes a step back. But it’s pretty interesting. He’s never run over me or swung into me and I definitely like not feeling crowded. My Arab was taught the traditional way and has startled and jumped into or ahead of me numerous times. Do not think tightening up on the lead helps anything. I much prefer the newer method and will be installing it on her in the spring.

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