My “Shout It Out!” For Today – What Is My Problem!?!

When a friend and I began riding hunt seat and jumping, we had two “horse rules of thumb”: 1) Try to not attend shows where the jumping course included a “roll top” (a particular type of fence that we found VERY scary) and 2) Never, NEVER buy one of those horses that required 2 sets of reins. We had a hard enough time handling the one set we rode with everyday. Having two sets would just put us over the edge.

After a few years I fell in love with saddle seat riding. It was not particularly easy for me to switch from the forward hunt seat position, (The first time my trainer told me to keep my upper body more straight up and down I felt like I was laying down…literally!) but after much effort on my and my poor trainer’s part, I finally was able to ride in a “passable” manner.

One day, however, my trainer walked out with a second set of reins slung over his shoulder. Oops! I had forgotten about that little detail. I thought, though, that it can’t be that much harder…Can it?” Unfortunately I discovered the answer very quickly…It can be VERY, VERY HARD. I felt like I was holding a billion slippery noodles in my hands. My curb rein would get too long and then my snaffle would be too short. As a result, my whole body posture would go to pot.

Last year I started taking lessons with an instructor in my area to get more practice. I told her that I have “double rein issues” and I needed help. Although she said that she understood, I don’t think she quite got the depth of the problem. For several weeks I rode with a single rein and a martingale. I needed to get my leg and body position stronger. I was making good progress but then, she brought out my nemesis”…the curb rein. Once again EVERYTHING went south and I looked as though I had just started riding! After a couple of lessons she finally looked at me and said laughing “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM!!!” (We are very good friends so it wasn’t as offensive as it probably sounds). Knowing that she finally understood my predicament, I joked back, “If I knew, I certainly wouldn’t need YOU would I!?”

Although I am getting better, I just can’t get comfortable holding two sets of reins. I never feel as though they are in the right position. They are either too long or too short and I am continually fumbling with them. So I ask you, “WHAT IS MY PROBLEM???” Any help out there?

13 Responses to My “Shout It Out!” For Today – What Is My Problem!?!

  1. spiritofplay says:

    When you zero in on it let me know! I too have “issues”-either I am “hanging on the curb” which makes me feel guilty because I am so fearful of contributing to one of those mouths that you hear about that are “tough as leather” or I have thrown one of my reins. The question posed to me is “did you feel the horse take it back?” which I most times do not! So, I am not certain if I have “tough as leather” hands that are not sensitive enough to “feel” what I need to feel, or what I am missing. So, Black Eye Beth, I feel your pain!

  2. Black Eye Beth says:

    You don’t know how much better that makes me feel! I also can’t ever tell when their noses are “tucked in” correctly…I just don’t see it. Their poll just looks the same to me. If there is two of us…there must be more, hopefully???

  3. morganok says:

    AOTS Poll – I’m a pure amateur but my BFF is a trainer. I stall with them at shows. That’s it. She does not train my horses, but I don’t show in AOT because I know folks would “talk”!! I think the rules to be written more fairly – plus who regulates it? Nobody. (Same with the height classes!! If we’re going to have classes at Nationals by height, horses need an official measure card like other breeds!)

  4. kad says:

    Well, BEB – don’t give up hope. As much as I hate to admit it even I started “there” BUT just like other things you’ve encountered at somepoint the light bulb will come on. (It is close to a flicker now I am sure.) I think that maybe when you “take a picture” of the poll you need to use your zoom lens a little bit. As with all things you first need to let go of your preconceptions(Is that even a word??) of something before you can truly let yourself learn anything new. It’s always soooo much harder to retrain your brain than to start from scratch. Hey – like my husband always says – HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL!

  5. Carole says:

    Relax…see if someone will teach you to ride without reins. They can pony the horse you are riding or put you on a long line…Just relax. develope a good seat so you are not balancing off the reins.

    Double reins are not complicated…try diving two horses, riding one and ponying one.

    Don’t grab hold of the reins so tight that you are using them for balance. Check out a rein board in a driving book or magazine and actually make one and you will get great feed back on your hands.
    Just relax…Play the game of “how light can I be” your horses will love that gme. How can the horse move forward freely with your hands balancing your body and your legs with no contact and your bottom out of the saddle? Relax…this is all supposed to be fun. Relax the “death ” grip. Play the mouth like the keys of a piano…you’ll get the feel and make some nice music at the same time. Cheers,Carole

  6. Mocha Mom says:

    A rein board! Now there’s a good idea. I wonder where BEB and SOP can get one of those?

  7. Black Eye Beth says:

    Mocha’s in the HOUSE!!!!!! Welcome back! (hmmmm…I wonder)

  8. Carole says:

    Please STOP thinking that it is hard to ride with double reins.. Start thinking ” I CAN RIDE WITH TWO REINS!” Try very hard to unblock your minds. I know that you can learn how to ride with double reins ( might as well learn what to call them) Google in “Rein Boards” on the internet. Get in touch with the “Driving Digest” magazine and the “Carriages Association of America” . I know that on Ebay there are plans for sale on “rein boards” and how to make them. Just open up your minds and relax , ladies. It’s all fun. I know that you can do it.

    I also suggest that you carry double reins with you as you sit in front of the tv. Slip off your right shoe and put the reins around the ball of your foot….hold the ends of the reins like they are in your hands as you sit on the horses. Your foot becomes the horse’s mouth. You can feel the left side and the right side of your foot as you “pick up the pressure.” Your foot will feel what the horse’s mouth feels.. Now slip your hands into the reins as if you are riding only you will have the unconnected ends of the reins in your hands. ( Come on you can do this…just try) Now play at getting the feel of using a double set of reins.

    Let me know if that helps…Just stop being afraid…You get to ALWAYS be brave around the horse so start with your feet. Play that mouth like it is a piano. Make sweet sweet music. You don’t learn to play the first time you sit at the piano….you get to practice and enjoy the learning curve. Riding horses is not a distastful job. My job is to be your cheerleader and help you solve the situations . Have fun. Cheers,Carole

  9. Carole says:

    P.S. Stop worrying about the head set at this moment. Get the feel of the reins first. Wait until I tell you how to really sofen up by releasing the pressure on the reins and the hosre doesn’t run off. You will love that.Talk about being fun….. The head set will come once you get the feel of the double reins.

    Remember- one step at a time. Cheers again, Carole

  10. Carole says:


    You don’t have a PROBLEM. You just don’t know what to do ,plus you don’t know that the solution to the situation is just practise and a smile.

  11. Black Eye Beth says:

    I like the foot idea. I will definitely try that one.

  12. Carole says:

    Yea! It’s called “foot work.”

    Smile Carole Mercer

  13. Innocent says:

    I like your office raises)

Leave a Reply