Training Aids for your Horse

Training Aids For Your Horse

The challenge with training is always how to make it interesting and provide variety. So, here’s a look at some of the training aids that you can include in your routine along with a brief description of what they are, what they should be used for, how they work, what they're good for and, importantly, what can go wrong.

SIDE REINS

Shires Aviemore Leather and Elastic Side Reins

What are they?

Two reins that clip to the bit rings and then run straight back on either side of the horse to attach to the girth or a roller.

When should they be used?

For lungeing only. They offer an alternative way of working the horse to help add variety to your training programme. They’re used to provide a rein contact for a horse to work into.

How do they work?

When the horse raises or twists his head beyond a desired point, the reins put pressure on the bit. This acts on the bars and the corners of the mouth so the horse returns to the correct position and the pressure is released.

What are they good for?

- Establishing the initial contact with young horse

- Developing top line muscle

- Developing different frames progressively

- Establishing acceptance of contact

- Improving suppleness through the back

- Encouraging a consistent and steady outline

- Achieving looseness of paces through suppleness.

They can help develop top line during lungeing and, depending on the positioning of the reins on the girth and their length, the desired frame. Positioned low and long, they allow a rounder, deeper frame and encourage the horse to stretch and use the muscles of his back. The higher and shorter the reins, the more collected the outline and the shorter the frame but this must be built up over time once the horse’s strength has increased.

What can go wrong?

The effectiveness will be reduced if the length of the Side Reins isn’t correct for the current stage of the horse’s training:

equus bullet If they’re too long, the horse won’t feel the contact and will tend to become long and hollow; he won’t work through the back so his top line and suppleness will show little improvement.

equus bullet If they’re too short, the horse will be forced into an incorrect outline with a tight neck and tense back and become reluctant to go forward.

Side reins must also be adjusted to equal lengths or slightly shorter to the inside. Uneven reins will develop a lop-sided horse. Ensure the horse is driven forward into the reins – without this, muscle development won’t happen.

SHOP SIDE REINS

DRAW REINS

Shires Aviemore Draw Reins

What are they?

An extra-long set of additional reins which are most commonly fitted to pass from the rider’s hands, through the bit rings and then to the girth. Sometimes referred to as Running Reins.

When should they be used?

For encouraging a better head position and rounder frame when riding. The reins pass through the bit rings and attach to the girth under the rider’s legs; or the reins go through the bit rings and then down to the girth between the horse’s front legs. They’re also used for lungeing, running from the saddle D-rings or roller top rings, through the bit rings and to the girth between the front legs but adjustment is difficult.

When should they not be used?

Never use draw reins when jumping or on horses who are known to buck.

How do they work?

The reins put pressure on the bit and therefore the bars and corners of the mouth, which should be released by the rider once the horse returns to a rounder frame. With the reins fitted between the forelegs, there’s a downward pressure; a higher fitting produces a more upward pressure.

What are they good for?

- Encouraging a consistent outline

- Encouraging acceptance of contact

- Building up top line

- Increasing suppleness of the back

- Improving looseness of paces.

What can go wrong?

Probably out of all the training aids, it’s the use of draw reins that is the most controversial as they have the potential to inflict the most damage. This is due to habitual use along with the failure to release when the horse has 'given'. This can result in the horse learning to lean on the reins or becoming over bent and behind the bit.

They’re often used as a way of controlling a strong horse, but they're likely to exaggerate the problem.

SHOP DRAW REINS 

PESSOA TYPE LUNGING AIDS

Image

What is it?

A system of ropes and pulleys that run along the sides of the horse, with an elastic tensioner positioned behind the quarters. The tensioner is attached to the top of lunging roller. Then two lines run from the tensioner, along either side of the horse, through rings on the roller positioned halfway up the horse’s body. They then continue to clip on to the bit rings via a small pulley, before being run to one of several positions on the roller.

When should it be used?

It’s designed to be used during lunging only.

How does it work?

In effect it creates a connection between the hindquarters and the bit. The tensioner and its supporting lines put gentle pressure on the quarters, encouraging the horse to step further under, and so stretch and lift the back muscles. At the same time the lines running through the bit discourage the horse from raising his head too far by exerting pressure on the mouth. As soon as the horse lowers his head the pressure is removed.

What is it good for?

- Suppleness of the back via a rounder outline

- Looser paces due to increased suppleness

- Developing top line muscle

- Improving the connection from hindquarters to bridle by forming the correct outline

- Improving engagement of the hindquarters, so transferring weight onto the hindquarters and improving balance.

By creating greater engagement and connection, it can help to improve muscle development in weak or young horses.

By improving the back muscles, it can also improve horses who are tense or hollow, encouraging relaxation and the lowering and stretching of neck and top line.

What can go wrong?

The effectiveness will be dramatically reduced if the it isn’t fitted correctly:

equus bullet If it’s too tight, it will restrict the horse’s forward movement and bring his nose behind the vertical, putting him onto the forehand.

equus bullet If it’s too loose the quarters won’t engage, so there’ll be no connection from the hindquarters to the bridle. 

SHOP PESSOA TYPE TRAINING AIDS

THE DE GOGUE

Shires Aviemore De Gogue Training Aid

What is it?

Similar in look to a Chambon, the cords of the de Gogue pass through the bit rings instead of clipping to them and attach either to specially adapted reins or back onto the breast strap that passes between the horse’s forelegs to form a triangular shape.

When should it be used?

For in-hand work, loose schooling, lungeing or ridden work.

For non-ridden training it’s used in the triangular shape and is under the direct control of the horse.

For ridden work, the de Gogue can be brought into action by the special reins but should be used alongside reins fitted directly to the bit.

How does it work?

It acts upon the poll and the bit, putting pressure on the corners of the mouth when the horse raises his head higher than desired. Downward pressure is placed on the poll and backwards pressure on the mouth, which releases when the horse brings his head down and nose in.

What is it good for?

- Developing suppleness through the back

- Encouraging a longer, lower frame while being ridden

- Developing muscle across the back and loins - particularly those needed for show jumping

- Strengthening the hindquarters.

By encouraging the neck to be lowered and the nose to be brought in, the back comes up and the quarters engage. Like the Chambon, the de Gogue is good for hollow horses but it has the benefit of being used for ridden work, too. Also, as the nose is encouraged to be brought in, it tends to develop a rounder way of going and improves the top line and muscling of the quarters.

What can go wrong?

The effectiveness will be dramatically reduced if the de Gogue isn’t fitted correctly:

equus bullet If it’s too tight, it will pull the horse’s neck down and back, making him over bent and unable to work up from the hindquarters into the bridle.

equus bullet If it’s too loose and there will be little effect as the horse can maintain a head-up and nose-out way of going. It’s vital the horse is worked forward into the contact otherwise he’ll be put onto the forehand.

SHOP THE DE GOGUE 

The CHAMBON

Hy Chambon

What is it?

A cord clips to each bit ring and then passes upwards and through a loop on each side of a poll strap. From here, the cords drop downwards to attach to a single strap that passes between the horse’s forelegs and loops onto the girth or roller.

When should it be used?

For lungeing or loose schooling on the flat.

How does it work?

The Chambon acts on the poll and, via the bit, on the corners of the mouth. When the horse raises its head higher than desired, the bit is raised in the mouth and poll pressure is applied. As soon as the head is lowered, the pressure is released. In effect, the horse works the Chambon.

It’s used to encourage the horse to work in a longer, lower outline, using the muscles over the back, quarters and neck. It’s ideal for the early stages of a horse’s education or in retraining. It’s effective for horses who go in a hollow outline, with their head up, back dropped and quarters trailing. By encouraging the longer, lower frame, the horse will learn to use his back muscles and engage his quarters. It must be introduced slowly, and the horse must be encouraged forward into the contact to get the best results.

What is it good for?

- Developing suppleness of the back

- Encouraging a longer, lower frame

- Developing muscle over the back and loins - particularly good for strengthening those used for show jumping

- Strengthening the hindquarters

- Developing looseness in the paces through suppleness in the back

- Developing top line muscle.

What can go wrong?

The effectiveness will be reduced if the Chambon isn’t fitted correctly:

equus bullet If it’s too tight, the horse will draw his neck back and become over bent.

equus bullet If it’s too loose, the horse will trail his quarters and little muscle development will be achieved.

Finally, the horse shouldn’t be allowed to slop along so no connection to the contact is made.

Any of these mistakes will lead to the horse working on his forehand. 

SHOP THE CHAMBON

HARBRIDGE

Shires Nylon Harbridge Training Aid

What is it?

Similar in look to a running martingale, the breast strap loops onto the girth and then splits into two elasticated straps, but these clip directly on to the bit rings.

When should it be used?

It is mainly used for ridden flatwork, lungeing or loose schooling. It can also be used for pole work and small jumps.

How does it work?

When the horse raises his head too high, it places a gentle downward pressure on the bit, with the elasticated section providing a more ‘asking’ feel than a pull. As soon as the head is lowered the pressure is released. In essence, the horse operates it by his movements. It also offers the benefit of giving no opportunity for the horse to lean on the reins.

What is it good for?

- Encouraging acceptance of the contact

- Improving suppleness of the back through a rounder outline

- Encouraging a consistent, steady outline

- Improving looseness of the paces through suppleness of the back.

The Harbridge helps to create a consistent contact and develops a rounder outline. It can help a horse who wants to maintain a hollow frame above the bit and is unsteady within the contact.  In this case the horse lacks connection from the quarters to the bridle and, therefore, doesn’t develop any top line muscles. By encouraging them to use their back, this can be corrected.

What can go wrong?

The effectiveness will be reduced if the Harbridge isn’t fitted correctly:

equus bullet If it’s too tight, the horse’s nose will be pulled in and the horse will be behind the bit and become stiff in the back

equus bullet If it’s too loose, the training aid won’t prevent the horse from working in a poor outline.

SHOP THE HARBRIDGE

You can find everything you need in our Training Aids collection. Don't forget, it's free UK delivery on all orders, regardless of how much you spend. If you're unsure on how to use a training aid correctly, always speak to an expert or your instructor for advice.

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Author

Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.

Comments

  • Christine posted on March 27 2020 at 10:03 PM

    This is all very good information but still leaves me insecure about using any of these training aids, as there are a lot of cons if the aid is not used or fitted correctly on the horse. So, for someone who has never used any of these aids, I would not feel comfortable using these aids for the first time without have an experienced trainer to show me how to correctly fit the aid on my horse and what tension to use.

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