Change up your reins! It’s hard to oversell how important your reins are. Whether you’re riding or driving, your reins are your direction connection to your horse’s oh-so-sensitive mouth. In a lot of ways, they’re also your first line of defense in emergency situations, when you need to stop or turn as soon as possible. When they’re wet, though, traditional leather reins can do anything but offer a quick, soft touch to a horse’s mouth.
So why are you still using those old laced reins that came with your bridle years ago? Let’s look at some of the best reins on the market to keep you connected with your horse in all weathers and conditions.
Rubber Reins: Usually leather wrapped with rubber and pimpled for grip, rubber reins are evolving from rather bulky items to ever more flexible and narrow reins, easier on both the hands and the eyes. The drawbacks to these ultra-grippy reins? Rubber reins can be too grippy at times when you need to slip the reins — in drops into water on cross-country, for example — and really slippery on a sweaty neck. They’re also frowned upon in more formal disciplines like dressage and hunters.
Rubber Lined Reins: Half leather, half rubber, these reins offer the best of both worlds, with the traditional look of leather and the grip of rubber. Consider these reins for dressage or any time you want your look to be as a traditional as possible, but don’t want to sacrifice grip due to rain or sweat. Be sure to buy quality, though, as eventually the rubber will begin to peel from lower-cost reins.
Continental Reins: These web reins have rubber woven into the fabric for extra grip and supreme flexibility. Continental reins are helpful in wet conditions without the added bulk rubber can add to reins, and look a little more formal than rubber reins. They usually include hand stops, which can keep the reins from pulling through your hands suddenly, and also assist some riders with keeping their reins an equal length.
Made-to-Measure Reins: Riding a draft horse (or a draft horse wannabe) withe regular length reins? One good tug on wet reins and you can find yourself riding hands-free. Albion Saddlemakers (www.albionsaddlemakers.co.uk) is just one saddlery company which will actually make reins made-to-measure, so you can find the extra-long reins you need in the style you love. Albion offers everything from rubber, to web, to traditional laced reins. They also have pre-measured lengths for full and warmblood, in case your horse’s neck is just shy of giraffe length.
Your reins are one of the most important components of your tack. Make sure you have the right reins to keep you and your horse safe, happy, and performing your best, even in wet weather!