Tack: Auxilliary Equipment
Lunging Draw Reins
By Karen Nelson
Lunging Draw Reins
Lunging Draw Reins are very similar to draw reins used for riding, or to side reins used for lunging, but are fixed to the
saddle or lunging surcingle at two points. They should only be used for lunging or in-hand work when attached in this
matter. They are used to teach the horse to give to pressure, and to force the horse to hold its head/mouth within a
How They are Put On:
Lunging draw reins can be attached in a few different ways:
1) One end attached between the horse's front legs, the other attached near the withers.
2) One end attached between the horse's front legs, the other attached to a location lining up with the point of shoulder.
3) One end attached to a location lining up with the point of shoulder and the other attached near the withers.
The draw reins should go from the lower attachment to the inside of the bit, then out and back to the higher point of
The draw reins should be adjusted so that both sides are of equal length. As with any device of this kind, they should
only be done up in the arena in case the horse resists and panics, and should be left undone or adjusted loosely until
the horse has warmed up. If the draw reins are done up between the legs, then they should be left off until ready to be
adjusted short enough that the risk of them being draped low enough for the horse to step in is minimized.
Lunging Draw reins are best used at the trot. If used at the walk or canter, the natural bob of the horse's head will be
compromised, and the horse will be overly encouraged to curl its neck under rather than stretch out and down. They are
not suitable for jumping as they overly restrict the use of the horse's neck.
How They Work:
Lunging draw reins are very similar to side reins in that they hold the horse's mouth within a defined arc. This arc is set
based on how the draw reins are attached, as well as the length with which they are attached. The higher the average
of the two points of attachment, the higher the frame that will be encouraged. Lunging draw reins are usually made of
cord or leather and are not elastic, so it is felt that a horse is less likely to learn to lean on them over side reins.
With side reins, the pressure is always back to the same fixed point, and so the angle of pressure on the mouth varies
considerably depending on the position of the mouth relative to that point. With the lunging draw reins however, the
change in the angle of pressure is less drastic until the horse comes above the top point of attachment, or below the
bottom point of wider the two points of attachment, the larger the range the horse will be able to move its head before
feeling a definite change in angle of pressure. As the reins are connected at two points, the pressure on the bit will be
back towards a midway point between the two points of attachment.
CONS/Risks of using Lunging Draw Reins
1) As the reins don't allow for the natural bob of the horse's head, nor do they allow for the horse to stretch for
lengthened gaits, the draw reins may cause the horse to stiffen its neck, which will in turn disrupt the flow of the horse's
gaits. For this reason lunging draw reins should only be used for a steady trot, and not for walk and canter work.
2) These are often used to force the horse into a frame, however the result is usually that the head is pulled into
position rather than the horse being encourage to use its back. Draw reins used in this manner (over tightened) usually
end up pulling the horse onto its forehand, teach it to break at the 3rd vertebra, or teach to travel behind the bit (see
above photo for an extreme example).
3) If the Draw Reins are adjusted incorrectly, and the inside one is adjusted shorter than the outside, the horse will have
its front end pulled into the inside of the circle resulting in an over bent or crooked horse.
4) Draw reins will punish the horse for wanting to stretch down and out, something that is needed for proper
development of the horse's back and neck.
5) The horse receives as a release for getting over bent and sucking up and back, as it does for carrying itself on the
vertical. Anyone who has ridden a horse who has learned how to get behind the bridle will know that this is a difficult
habit to break!
6) Users tend to leave draw reins on for too long, leading to the horse's neck cramping and the horse getting
uncomfortable. 5 minutes in draw reins may be more than enough for a green horse. A horse should NEVER be let
loose, or left in a stall with draw reins.
7) draw reins done up between the legs can be extremely dangerous as it is easy for a horse to get a leg over the rein if
it goes slack.
This picture shows a pretty ghastly use of
lunging draw reins. This photo was taken to
show the effects of Rolkur, and the horse
was only forced into this position for a
short time. You can see how the reins are
attached at two points. The closer the two
points of attachment, the smaller the range
of up or down movement the horse can
make before feeling a change in
pressure/angle on the bit.
Lunging draw reins have many of the same benefits and risks as side reins, but have the added advantage of being a
little more forgiving of the head being slightly up or down, and the disadvantage of having no forward give. To a young
horse, the lack of give may make the wary of reaching for the contact as it is an all or none thing, and they may
develop the habit of going behind the bridle.
As with side reins, these reins do not mimic a rider's hands, as a rider's hands have some give. They should only be
used as an introduction to pressure, and possibly to keep the horse's head within an acceptable range for ground