Learning to hold the reins correctly is one of the first steps in becoming a rider. How you position your hand can be determined by the type of bridle on your horse and what your intentions are. Clear and effective communication should be your goal. This guide is helpful for both beginner and experienced western riders.
The Snaffle Bit
Each rein is taken up in a hand with the excess placed on the opposite side of the neck. The overlap in the middle forms what is known as the bridge.
Each hand can either form a fist around the rein or allow the pinky finger to grasp the excess rein. This hold works well with split reins and allows for direct pressure on both sides of the horse’s mouth.
A trainer’s hold may be used for those transitioning their horse from a snaffle bit to a curb. Similarly, each rein overlaps in the middle with the excess rein falling on the opposite sides of the neck. The rider will grasp the reins in the middle with only one hand this time.
The Curb Bit
When riders use this leverage bit they often only use one hand. Your hand should grasp the reins in front of the pommel of the saddle. The excess rein would fall on the side of the hand you’re using. If you’re holding with your right hand, then the excess rein would lay on the right side of the horse’s neck. Your pointer finger should be between the split reins.
With romal reins, the rider grasps the reins in one hand like an ice cream cone. The excess rein is draped in your free hand.
Watch this video tutorial in order to get a visual of the proper positions: