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Using draw/running reins

(32 Posts)
frostyfingers Fri 14-Sep-12 18:32:27

Dhorse and I have been instructed to use the above in order to try and stretch his back out, and help his kissing spine problem.

Can anyone advise me on how short they should go for the first few times - I don't want to anchor him down, but having just used them now they were obviously too long as he was still wandering about like a giraffe. I adjusted them a little but although he dropped his head once or twice he was resisting quite strongly. I don't want to make him sore and stiff by doing too much too soon, but need to get it right. The physio is coming again next week, but I'd like to make a start before then.

Thank you!

DolomitesDonkey Fri 14-Sep-12 18:39:34

Are you sure they meant draw reins? I wouldn't advise using these to stretch the back, long lining perhaps - but draw reins? Egads! confused

Butkin Fri 14-Sep-12 18:57:07

I can't comment on the type of issues you're dealing with but did use draw reins on DDs Lead Rein ponies when she was young and couldn't get them in outlines.

We just set them so that it was like she had a light contact on his mouth at all times. They were set so that he had his nose slightly forward of perpendicular - not really poking out but not overbent either.

frostyfingers Fri 14-Sep-12 20:05:55

Yup, draw reins. Only for a couple of weeks to try to get him to stretch out apparently. Never used them before, but she was very specific about what to use and what we were trying to achieve. I'm not a gadget person at all but am desperate to get dhorse right and give him every chance...... Perhaps I'll wait until she comes again to double check what I should be doing.

DolomitesDonkey Fri 14-Sep-12 20:12:36

I guess if it's being done under "supervision", just sounds such a strange thing to recommend because as we all know, extension as she appears to be asking - comes from the back end and not through cranking the front :/

rogersmellyonthetelly Fri 14-Sep-12 20:47:58

I can't say I've ever seen draw reins help a horse to stretch!

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Fri 14-Sep-12 21:54:21


horseylady Fri 14-Sep-12 22:32:34

You can use them to encourage a horse to work long and low IF the horse already works in some sort of an outline. However if you have a horse with a high head carriage it won't work effectively. It will effectively force the head down.

It might be worth lunging in a bungee which is elasticated and could help. See his reaction and then try riding it. I much prefer them to running reins if you have to use something as the rider doesn't restrict as much.

Booboostoo Fri 14-Sep-12 22:37:00

Draw reins are tough to use effectively mainly because the encourage the rider to use too much hand and not enough leg. The back will never stretch if the horse has no impulsion from behind, and if the horse is engaged from behind the outline will lower and lengthen naturally without the use of draw reins.

The only way you can get a horse to stretch over the back is to take your time over it. For a horse that has never been ridden this way it can take up to 2 years to develop the proper top line for self-carriage.

horseylady Sat 15-Sep-12 08:48:25

Exactly boo which is why I think lunging is better initially so the horse can work this way without being inhibited by the rider.

I'm not a user of draw reins, I will occasionally use a bungee riding but can't actuallly recall when I last used one ridden, certainly not in the last 18 months!!

Good luck op, I hope you are able to aid the kissing spine. Must be horrid!

frostyfingers Sat 15-Sep-12 08:54:09

Thanks for the advice - I should have said that this is all on the lunge atm, he's not to be ridden for the time being. I'm going to wait until the physio is out again and ask her to demonstrate, I'd rather do nothing than do it wrong!
She specifically didn't want me to use side reins as they "fix" him into position which wouldn't help.

It's a nightmare horseylady, I know what the eventual outcome will be, it's just a question of how long we've got until I have to face it. His condition is too bad to be operated on, but in his favour is that he is sound and showing no behavioural change, nor discomfort unless direct and hard pressure is put on the area. He's had steroid injections and whilst he is pain free we are working to improve the muscle condition around the spot. The lungeing is in conjunction with other stretching exercises.

DolomitesDonkey Sat 15-Sep-12 09:21:01

Have you ever used long-reining? From a physical pov I think this would be your best option. It will most likely require 2 people unless you have a lot of private land or live in the middle of nowhere. It's also a massive time investment compared to lungeing.

Booboostoo Sat 15-Sep-12 10:14:20

Oh I see. On the lunge there is a way of fitting the draw reins to allow them to move. Here is an example (of course it's best to check with your physio but I would imagine this is what she meant, it's a method used by Laura B):

For this kind of thing I highly rate the Equiami. Unlike some other aids it forms a circle, encouraging the horse to engage and doesn't jab the horse in the mouth.

People have different experiences with them but if you are desperate try a treeless saddle. Some horses with back problems really like the different feeling, although of course horses are individuals and some hate them!

Butkin Sat 15-Sep-12 12:27:46

Good points about bungees. I'd forgotten what success we had with them as well. May suit you better than normal draw reins.

frostyfingers Sat 15-Sep-12 14:49:51

That's exactly what my horse does Boo - ambles about with his head in the air - and exactly what we are trying to achieve with the lower outline. I'll try them that way tomorrow to see what happens.

I really don't want to anchor him into a position, he needs to be able to stretch the muscles otherwise we are defeating the object. I had heard of the Equiami and will discuss with physio on Weds. Can you tell it's not something I'm really keen on?! However, I have to give dhorse the best possible chance and if both the consultant vet and physio (who are not connected) both suggest the same thing, then I need to think again. Thanks for the video - that really helps.

Booboostoo Sat 15-Sep-12 15:25:43

For a horse to work long and low through the back they need a contact to work to so they can learn to carry their own weight, so I don't think there is anything wrong with providing a contact either through this method of running the draw reins round or the equiami.

Personally what I would avoid is anything that fixes the head/neck in any position as that only creates tension and hollows the back.

mistybear Sat 15-Sep-12 17:25:28

how about the pessoa my dd's pony has back issues (caused by incorrect drawrein usage) and the physio recomended it to be used 2-3 times a week this really does encourage them to work long and low but also from behind

fait Mon 17-Sep-12 15:19:50

Pessoa is the only gadget that could help in this situation - definitely not draw reins. Pessoas are expensive but worth their weight in gold if you are trying to get a horse to improve its top line.

DolomitesDonkey Mon 17-Sep-12 15:39:52

Oh I know I'm a moany old bag, but I hate Pessoas - they punish the horse by jabbing it in the mouth with each and every stride. sad

fait Mon 17-Sep-12 15:43:54

Not if they are fitted properly. And ours are (of course). I would far rather see a pessoa being used correctly than 99.9% of riders using draw reins.

If a pessoa jabbed a horse in the mouth each stride, then clearly it is not correctly fitted!

fait Mon 17-Sep-12 15:46:18

OP - have you had xrays etc done to confirm kissing spine? Or is this just what the physio has come up with?

Way too many people are diagnosing kissing spine when there are other issues causing the initial problem.

frostyfingers Mon 17-Sep-12 15:56:44

The physio referred him to my vet, and my vet then referred him on to a specialist equine vet. He's had xrays and even I could see the problem, he has it from T12 to L3 and in some places they are overlapping. This rehab programme has been suggested by the physio and the vet, so I'm confident we're on the right track. He's had 10 cortisone injections to reduce the swelling and therefore the pain, and we're aiming to get the muscles to support the area, whilst he's pain free. Bute is available as a top up if necessary. The vet has also spoken to my farrier about it, with a view to changing his shoeing if necessary.

The prognosis isn't great, but as I said earlier he is currently sound and without behavioural issues which is why we're trying this programme. I used the draw reins as shown in Boo's video and the effect was immediate. I haven't anchored him down and he isn't going round with his nose on the floor, currently he's pretty horizontal from ears to rump, and I'm only doing 5 minutes each side until he's used to it. He hasn't got a bit in so isn't being jabbed in the mouth, and so far seems comfortable. He has a check up on Wednesday so I'll find out how we're doing.

Treblesallround Mon 17-Sep-12 15:59:21

Good luck with it frosty. I really hope you can get him comfortable. Fingers crossed for Wednesday

fait Mon 17-Sep-12 16:24:44

I was going to suggest shoeing changes which often help with kissing spine.

If he is sound and has no behavioural issues, then the injections seem to be doing the trick. It will be interesting to see how he is when they wear off. There are so many methods of treatment, but from experience it seems that each horse reacts differently to each. Best of luck with it all - he is lucky you are taking the time to try to sort it out.

Booboostoo Mon 17-Sep-12 16:27:05

Good luck on Wednesday and I hope he keeps improving.

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