Proper Rein Length in Western Classes

Find the perfect rein length to be an effective rider with help from AQHA Professional Horsewoman Nancy Cahill.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Light contact means not too long, not too short, but just right, says AQHA Professional Horsewoman Nancy Cahill. (Credit: Journal)

When I’m at horse shows, one of the biggest problems I see youth and amateur riders having is rein length.

Rein management is essential for effective control of the horse. Too often, I see riders in western classes with reins that are too long or too short, when proper rein length is laid out in the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations, which specifies light contact.

Light contact means not too long, not too short, but just right.

I think of it like dancing with a partner: If you hold your partner too tightly, neither of you can move. If you hold your partner too loosely, you’re not communicating.

We’re all after the invisible cue, but that takes practice, sometimes years of it. You have to work toward that invisible communication every day. Until you achieve it, keep your reins short enough that you can communicate effectively with your horse and dance around the arena together.

Continue reading this article in the December American Quarter Horse Journal. 

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