Tag Archives: Sunday rides

The difference a pair of reins makes…

While I’ve ridden English-style pretty much all of my lesson history, I did do a significant stint with a Western Pleasure trainer.  Not to learn WP, mind you – just because she was the best trainer at the time for the confidence level I was at, and she taught me quite a few other things as well.

The one I could have never expected was the pleasure of a good set of split reins.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good pair of English reins.  “Good” being leather – I hate the nylon ones, never have tried rubber – and long enough to be comfortable on the horse I’m on.  I even like the standard braided reins, because they give me a nice easy way to set my rein length.

But split reins?

The first few times I rode with them, it just seemed like way too much… stuff… to reasonably ride with.  I mean, there’s all this length, and what am I supposed to do with it?  Then I had to sit down and ride out a correction on a stubborn mare, and I discovered the magical thing about split reins:

You don’t have to carry a crop.

You just reach down, grab a rein end, and whack behind your leg like you would with a crop.  One pop, and done.  There’s nothing extra to fumble with, because the rein comes back forward with your hand anyway.  This?  This was a revelation.

When I started riding up at Heather’s, I had an impulse buy moment at Tractor Supply and bought a pair of bright blue nylon split reins.  They were… okay.  I can’t say they were just plain awesome, other than the fact that they’re blue, because they kept catching underneath the saddle pads and just didn’t seem quite long enough for some reason.  They did the job fine, but it just didn’t feel right.  This year, for Christmas, I splurged a bit and bought myself a pair of 7′ leather split reins (that match my Courbette all-purpose saddle beautifully, I might add).

Oh, what a difference a pair of reins make!  These reins don’t catch under the saddle, and they’re just the right length – which Heather’s mom’s mare Ishka found out twice already when she decided that my leg was an optional cue.  I’m in love.

The Stink-Eye

Sunday tried to be rainy, but I headed up to Iron Ridge anyway.  Apparently I just needed to get there; aside from a few brief showers, the day was beautifully sunny until after I left.  (And guess who’s rocking the reverse raccoon today because she rushed out of the house without sunscreen?  Yeah.  I’m a little crispy!)

I was feeling pretty lazy, so instead of wandering down to the pasture, I borrowed Leah’s Jazu, since I heard tell that she was off on a date with her Mr. Fry.  🙂

Jaz cracks me up.  I pulled him out of his stall, which he was excited about, and tied him up to brush and tack, which he was less excited about.  That was when the stink-eye started.  He’d watch me out of the corner of his eye, or turn his head to look at me intently.  “You,” he seemed to be thinking, “are not my mom.  That’s not how Mom brushes me.  You’re not cooing over me like Mom does.  Those aren’t Mom’s treats, but I guess I’ll eat them.  Mom always lets me drink out of her Gatorade.  That’s not how Mom puts a saddle on me – and by the way, that’s definitely not Mom’s saddle.  That is not how Mom gives me the bit.  I am so telling my mom all about this indignity the next time I see her.”

It was all I could do to not giggle at him.

Once I got on, we puttered about at the walk, because I am so badly out of shape.  Jaz was less than impressed that I made him march right along, and even less impressed with the proper corners and occasional turn on the haunches, leg yield, or circle that I insisted on.  He kept his ears on me the whole time – both of them – and every time his head turned enough that he could fix an eye on me, I got more stink-eye.  He was never bad, and he for the most part did what I asked of him (standing still was hard… and it was windy), but I swear he spent the whole ride hoping someone would rescue him from the mean lady on his back.  He didn’t stop looking at me funny until I took him out to the pasture and turned him loose.

Leah, your pony is a riot.  🙂