I had a great inquiry from a reader about creating staff guideline for when to progress a student from having the reins clipped to the halter to having the reins on the bridle. We do not have such guidelines at our barn, but here is an example I just made up that might be appropriate.
Example Guidelines for Reins on Halter vs. Bridle
All riders should ride with the reins on the halter until they meet the requirements to progress to reins on the bridle. This is to protect our lesson horse’s mouths from harsh and untrained hands.
Requirements for riding with the reins on the bridle:
- Demonstrates the ability to pick up the reins softly, not pulling or jerking.
- Demonstrates correct arm posture.
- Correct arm posture should be defined:
- Wrists lie in a straight line with the upper arm, thumbs on top.
- Arms hanging loosely at sides, relaxed in their shoulders, elbows and wrists.
- Demonstrates soft steady hands as the result of a balanced seat.
- Soft steady hands should be defined:
- Hands maintain soft contact with the halter through the reins and follows the horse’s motion by opening and closing the joints.
- Hands do not jerk or pull on reins.
- Demonstrates correct use of direct, indirect, and open rein.
- Demonstrates ability to use rein aids by giving or taking the reins with the pinkie and ring finger.
- Demonstrates the ability to correctly adjust the reins.
You may also want to include:
- A measurement for the above – 100% of the time?
- Whether the requirements must be met at the walk, or at both the walk and trot.
- Required equipment for riding with reins on the halter and bridle.
- Example: When reins are on the halter, horses must still wear a bridle to signal they are working, and provide the option to progress to the bridle.
- Example: When reins are on the halter, horses must wear a rope halter underneath to which the leader is attached, so the signals from the leader and rider are separated and less confusing to the horse.
- Example: When reins are on the halter, horses may wear only a halter and no bridle, to keep from excessive bridling (which may aggravate horses).
- I have seen it done all these ways at different barns!
Definition of soft hands from this article by Meredith Manor
For more info about how to develop steady hands, see this article by Meredith Manor!
Do you have related guidelines or some standard in your head? If so, please leave a comment so we all can learn, and help this reader out!
Also, I’ve love to hear what your halter/bridle equipment policy is!
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!