Horse rein types and uses

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Reins are attached to the horse's bridle and are used by the rider to control and direct the horse. Reins can be simple, made out of nylon or rope, or they can be decorative, made of leather, rawhide and metal. Because horse reins are used to give the horse cues — slow down, turn, etc. — they are essential horse tack. However, they are rather expensive, ranging up to $400 for a single pair.

The two most common categories of reins are closed reins and split reins. Closed reins are a single strand of reins or reins that buckle at the end to form one larger rein, and they are common in English riding. Split reins are longer and are not attached at the ends. These horse reins are very common in Western riding.

Most other types of reins are derivatives of these types.

Side Reins

Side reins are usually used for training. These specially made horse reins are usually leather with elastic insets, and they typically connect from the bit to the saddle. When training a young horse (called "longeing"), side reins can help the horse learn to carry itself properly and correct posture problems early on.

Romel Reins

Romel reins are closed reins of leather or rawhide that were traditionally used by vaqueros, or Spanish cowboys. They have a long whip-like end, which is called a quirt, and they are highly decorative. In horse shows, Western riders hold these reins with one hand, without a finger between them.

Mecate Reins

Mecate reins are used with a type of hackamore (or bitless bridle), with a single piece of rope or nylon acting as a closed rein and leading rope. A lead rein is a third, extra rein that is attached to the bridle and often used in conjunction with the mecate reins.

Other Reins

Snaffle reins have two reins that are laced together and buckles on the double bridle or the Pelham bit.

Curb reins also have two sets of reins that usually buckle at the end, though they can be sewn together in the classic style.

Double reins are both a snaffle and a curb rein together, usually with a double bridle.

Draw reins are long reins that are used for a more expressive control over the horse. The reins attach to the saddle or girth and then loop around to the bit rings and back to the rider.