Auxiliary reins

Sometimes we need a little extra help, and in those cases a few auxiliary reins might come in handy.

The most important thing to remember when first trying auxiliary reins is to get help from someone with experience.

Using them incorrectly may do more harm than good. Also remember that an auxiliary rein is most often to be considered a temporary aid to move forward in your training, not as a permanent part of your tack. Most auxiliary reins are intended to make the horse curve its neck, raise its back and to step under itself. When the horse is stepping correctly, the auxiliary rein should have no effect. It is therefore important that the auxiliary reins are not too short and/or too tight. 


The running martingale is used for horses that throw their heads up or carry them very high. There are simple martingales, and then there are others, which are combined with a breast girth or a breast plate. The breast girth and the breast plate are both used to stop the saddle from sliding backwards, which can happen on some horses.

When you are fitting the martingale, you attach the breast strap to the girth of the saddle and then pull it between the front legs; the two hoops should be roughly level with the horse's point of hip, however, this point of reference may vary from horse to horse. Once you are riding on a short rein, your martingale is the right length if there is a straight line from your hand to the horse's mouth. Otherwise you need to adjust the length until you get a straight line. It is important that your use reins with martingale stops, which are to be placed between the snaffle ring and the martingale hoop. This is to prevent the hoop from gliding forwards and getting stuck on the rein buckle, which could cause the horse to fall.

Draw reins

Draw reins are used during riding, and is an auxiliary rein that should be used with great caution. Correctly used, they will help the horse to carry itself correctly. Most often they will be fastened in the girth and run through the front legs, however, it is also possible to fasten them to the sides of the girth, below the saddle. The reins are then pulled through the snaffle rings to the hands. You then hold the reins the same way as you would with a double bridle (two sets of reins).

Training reins

Training reins can be used both for lunging and riding. They are elastic, and easier to use than draw reins. Once they are fastened in the girth they can either run between the front legs or along the sides. It is important not to hold them too tightly, the effect should stop once the horse carries itself correctly. 

Thiedemann reins

The Thiedemann is similar to draw reins, but the rider only has to hold a single set of reins.  It is fastened in a fashion similar to the martingale. Two reins then run through the snaffle rings and are fastened with snap hooks to the special reins that come with the set.

De Gogue

A De Gouge can be used for both riding and lunging. It places pressure on the horse's neck to make it flex forward and downwards. You fasten the De Gouge to the girth and run it between the front legs. You then pull the lines through the hoops of the special neck piece, which is attached to the bridle, down through the snaffle rings and then back to the strap fastened to the girth.


The Chambon is used for lunging. It has the same effect on the horse as the De Gouge, i.e., it puts pressure on the neck to extend forwards and downwards. You fasten the Chambon to the girth and run it between the front legs. The line then runs through the hoops of the special neck piece, which is attached to the bridle, and is fastened to the snaffle rings.

Side reins

There are many different versions of the side reins. They are most commonly used in lunging. At the start of the training session, you can keep them slightly looser/longer, and then shorten them a little later. It is also important to keep them the same length on each side.

Anti-grazing reins

Anti-grazing reins is a good aid, especially if you have a gluttonous or mischievous pony that likes to throw its head down to lose its rider. These reins are fastened to the saddle, runs through the hoops of the special headpiece attached to the bridle, and down to the snaffle rings.


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