Neck reining is a handy skill to know whether you ride English or Western. It leaves one hand free to open gates, handle a lariat, or carry an object.
Time Required: 10 minutes
- Hold both reins in one hand. Traditionally Western riders hold the reins in their non-dominant hand, leaving their dominant (most often right) hand free to do work like handle a rope or open a gate. Your hand will be centred a few inches in front of your body. Your hand will be 'thumb up' and the free end of your reins will be coming from the bottom of your hand.
- To turn left, lift your hand slightly and move it left to lay the right rein on the right side of the horse's neck. No pressure should be applied to the bit.
- At the same time as you lay the rein on the horse’s neck apply pressure with the left leg to cue the horse to bend around your leg.
- As soon as the turn is complete release the pressure and bring your hand back to centre.
- To turn right, lay the left rein against the horse's or pony's neck and cue with the right leg to help your horse bend.
- Keep your shoulders square even though you are holding one hand higher to grasp the reins.
- Switch rein hands every so often on long rides may help even out the load on your horse’s back.
- As you practice, your rein aids will become more refined and almost imperceptible.
- Don't lift your hand too high as this will encourage the horse to raise his head.
- Don't pull back while turning. Your horse may think you're cuing to stop, or become confused.
What You Need
- Your horse saddled and bridled.
- A flat, obstacle free area to work. Add obstacles as your skills increase