Many English bridles come with reins. But are the reins you have best suited to your needs and riding discipline? English bridles typically use a buckled version of closed reins, which means the reins connect on either side of the bridle to the bit and then to one another over the horse’s withers to form one continuous loop. English reins come in a range of types and materials. Here is an overview of the different types of reins available:
- Plain Reins – Just what they sound like, plain reins are made of smooth leather and feature no other styling, such as hand stops. They offer a clean look and are generally thin and quite flexible, which provides a nice connection to the horse’s mouth. Plain reins are often used as a curb rein with a Weymouth, or as a main rein in dressage with the width depending on the intended purpose.
- Laced Reins – These reins are leather with a laced pattern sewn in. Typically used with hunter bridles, laced reins provide true traditional styling with good grip through the overlaid, laced leather.
- Web Reins – Made of cotton webbing, these reins feature leather hand stops at intervals along the entire length and a leather section at the ends where the reins attach to the bit. Web reins offer very good grip, and some web reins are made with rubber thread woven in for an even more secure grip. These are used frequently for schooling, dressage competition and are also great for eventing or trail riding as the cotton webbing can get wet and dry quickly without damage.
- Rubber Reins – Perhaps the best grip of all can be offered with a rubber rein. You will very frequently see rubber reins used in jumper and cross country bridles, as they are designed to provide excellent grip in all weather conditions. The rubber does not take on any water, so they dry almost immediately if they get wet. And if you’re looking for a bit of fun, rubber reins come in a range of colors for schooling.
- Rubber-Lined Reins – You will often see rubber-lined reins used for dressage. They offer a good grip in a thin rein to eliminate bulk for a close connection with the horse’s mouth. Rubber-lined reins feature thin rubber on one side of the leather rein, and also come in a laced variety.
In addition to these main types of English reins, there are other types of reins that can be added as training aids for specific intents. These include:
- Double Reins – Seen when a double bridle or certain kinds of bits are used, requiring a curb rein to be used in addition to the main rein. Curb reins are almost always plain.
- Draw Reins – Used as a second rein, alongside the main rein while being ridden.
- Side Reins – Training tool used during lunging, which connect from the bit to a surcingle.
Determining what type of English reins you should use is a combination of what discipline you ride, the needs of your horse and personal preference. It is always a good idea to consult a knowledgeable trainer before adding any training aids to your horse’s program. And as with any other piece of tack, regularly check your reins during cleaning to ensure there are no loose seams or areas of weakness – if you find any, pick out a new pair of reins right away!