Cowgirl - Neck Rein

In most western disciplines horses are expected to neck rein. The horse is taught to turn away from the pressure of a rein on his neck. The rider carries the reins loosely in one hand. Neck reining is not only required in certain shows, but makes life easier by freeing up a hand that could be used for opening gates or picking up items.

Teaching a horse to neck rein is not something that happens overnight. You’ll need to be patient and keep sessions short. Positive steps in the right direction should be rewarded.

To begin, you must first identify the direct and indirect reins. A direct rein guides the horse by applying pressure on the bit. The rider opens the rein slightly while pulling toward their hip. The indirect rein applies pressure to the neck to encourage movement.

It is easiest to start on a square. After your horse is warmed up, ask him to begin walking on a square by staying off the rail of the arena. If you are going around the square with your right hand to the inside, than your right rein is your direct rein and your left rein is the indirect rein. As you approach the corner, tip your horse’s nose to the right by applying pressure with your right rein toward the inside of the square. At the same time, place your left rein against his neck. The indirect and direct rein should be applied together, which means you must carry a rein in each hand for now.

Make sure to practice the square in both directions. Your indirect and direct reins will change, as you switch.

It is important to also use your body and legs when going through the turns. Use your outside leg with the indirect rein to encourage him to step away from the pressure. Make sure to look the direction your going and turn your shoulders and hips through the corners, as well.

Overtime your horse should develop the understanding that he needs to move away from the pressure on his neck. You can gradually move up to one hand and ditch the direct rein. The pressure should become lighter as he advances. This activity will take time, but in the end it will be worth it.