Thursday, October 2, 2014

Draw Reins and Dressage - Who'd a Thunk It?

 This picture is from the FEI World Cup Dressage Final for Young Riders Show, Frankfurt, Germany Dec. 2010. Yes, this is a class. OK, very minimal research tells me this must be the warm-up arena. My first clue would be the fact that dressage is not a group class, the second would be the leg wraps and the third (I hope) is the butt-load of crap hanging off the horses head.

From what I understand, these are junior riders actually competing in a class. Not your neighborhood 4H, either (which of course would never allow their youth riders to compete IN DRAW REINS), but the FEI World Cup for Young Riders.

The next time somebody tells me about a horse that's been "cowboyed," I'm sending them this.
Better cowboyed than dressaged I'm thinking.

Truth? There are stupid people in every discipline. It isn't the saddle that makes the horseman.


  1. Can't tell for sure, but I don't see the reins going to the riders' hands... Lytha was complaining a while back that ALL the school horses she saw/rode in Germany were ridden in side reins, for "proper headset." No one could tell her why it was so universal.
    Still a gadget. Still crazy.

  2. Hey Mugs, good morning!

    Long time reader, not-so-often commenter. Normally I agree with what you say, or else I agree to disagree with some method, thoughtfully - I'm just confused here because this post is really off of your usual mark. I'm finding it lacking in your normal research-research-research approach. I don't ride much dressage, I'm not one of THOSEEEE people (*wink*), but I can't find anything on the internet beside this ONE picture on that ONE girl's personal blog that would suggest this (or any other) class actually ran in draw reins. Yes, a picture is worth a 1000 words, but I'm going through the FEI rulebook right now thinking there must be some backing here, and yet I'm not finding it. Draw reins ARE allowed while lunging in warmup, but never in a class....looking at the annex for young riders as well as para-dressage and again, not finding anything.

    I'll continue doing more research because I'm really interested in how this pic came about, and who knows it may be correct (goodness knows enough "stuff" happens that isn't supposed to), I just wanted to give my 2 cents here. Thanks for the blog!!

  3. Codi...research away. I got this from a trusted resource, but you're right, I didn't research it.
    I have to admit, I simply cut loose with a VERY evil cackle and posted.
    It's a lead in for a post that's actually well thought out.
    Once in a while I just have to do a little troll trolling.I can't help myself.

  4. wherever it came from, it makes me cringe. it's still gadgets and cutting corners in the pursuit of getting an outcome as fast as possible. still shows how much people focus on setting the head instead of riding the whole horse.

  5. I'm not defending the use of such devices while riding, but those aren't what I'd call draw reins. To me draw reins go from the girth through the bit and back to the rider's hand. These go from the girth to the bit and back to the girth, which makes them, to me, sliding or Vienna side reins. They can be useful for horses who like to sit on traditional side reins while lunging, but I'm not sure why someone would want to use them while riding. Anybody know? I can see it kinda in polo, and definitely in para sports, but otherwise, idk. Anyway, they're allowed for warmup, but not for competition in the U.S., not sure internationally.

  6. That's just wrong even if they're not competing.

    A certain harsh dressage rider often tells me about a horse being 'cowboyed': I first think of the cowboys I know (like Joe Wolter) who are wonderful riders and put a lot of thought into the horse's point of view. Then I think of all of the dressage instructor advertisement photos where their horse is behind the vertical, doing a 3 beat 'trot' with HQ trailing behind.

    No one discipline has a lock on collection, good riding, or good horsemanship.

  7. These are sliding side reins (Vienna reins) but still, these are not allowed in competition. In fact in the US (USEF) you are now even allowed to lunge in these at recognized shows. I personally think it is unsafe to ride in any type of side rein.

  8. I took dressage lessons from a few instructors over a 25 year period. I loved the approach of classical dressage, you start with basic moves and gradually build on them and develop them into something wonderful. For example, you don't ask for collection until the horse is moving forward on the bit, the horse must be prepared and ready. I would have been killed for even asking about draw reins.

    This makes me feel old. Now the dressage people are using artificial and sometimes cruel equipment, and the cowboys are preaching natural horsemanship.

  9. Starting the kids off right! Because who needs actual horsemanship when there are all these awesome gadgets, amirite?

    In reality, I sincerely hope this is a fad- and that it passes quickly.

  10. It isn't the saddle that makes the Horseman...Truer words were never spoken!

  11. It's true - entire barns of school horses have Schlaufzuegel (Vienna reins) on, every time they're ridden. And if they run out of these reins, they'll put on normal sidereins and the horse has to do the lesson in those. I quit that barn for this reason (blogged about it here: What I didn't know when I quit: how difficult it would be to find a dressage barn that does not put them on all their horses, all the time.

  12. "Better cowboyed than dressaged I'm thinking."

    That was a bit inflammatory. And I think you know it.

    My guess it is the awards ceremony afterwards, some people will use draw reins (most commonly the jumpers) if they think their horse may get wild in the victory lap. Would I do it? No. But these are juniors, and some dressage horses are pretty hot.

  13. Nevermind, just realized they are Vienna reins, not draw reins. I got nothing, that's just stupid. Hopefully they all are from the same barn, so it's just one bad trainer.

    Quoted comment was still unnecessary and inaccurate, though.

  14. I've stopped really even talking about riding with other people, as I find it difficult to have a serious discussion on topics that are relevant to my riding. I get tired of blank looks when I want to think out loud about in hand flexions and how that translates into lateral work in hand...when most people it is just point and shoot.

    Thank god I can still talk about motorcycles and keep a blank face when I hear about someone's 500cc something-something. It's way easier to smile and let it go out the other eat instead of asking a techy mechanical question or getting into lean angles and all that mess.

    I know you have to let some things just flat out go, but damn, you need to draw the line somewhere right?

  15. I'm not really sure where this photo form 2010 resurfaced with a really confusing and poorly worded caption. This appears to be taken out of context. It's not an FEI class because that sort of equipment is not allowed in FEI classes. Here is the exact quote from the original poster's blog, in which she is talking about the OTHER types of classes they watched, which were not necessarily associated with he CDI:

    "Next we saw a junior rider class, there were 7 riders in each of the two rings and they just walked, trotted and cantered on the circle for the judges. Out of the 14 competitors only 4 rode without fixed draw reins or side reins!"

    I don't know what kind of class that is but it's not standard dressage. I'm not saying dressage doesn't have issues, of course it does, it's on par with every single horse sport. There will be good riders, short cutters and people who are downright cruel.

    I'm not really sure what the point of this post is, which is not how I normally feel when I read this blog. If the point is just to say that Mugs would like us to stop using the term "cowboy" as synonymous with poorly preparing your horse and riding badly, then point taken. How about from here on out, we call ignorance, ignorance and an a-hole, an a-hole, regardless of horse sport.

  16. I took part in a dressage clinic taught by a German instructor. I was really excited, because I hadn't ridden dressage in probably 18 years (been riding colts, been riding to stay on, definitely not "proper posture"). Some of her comments helped me - a lot. When she got to the "we will put draw reins on all our colts" and "western horses don't understand contact without draw reins" that I kinda tuned out and just went to work riding my western (roping) horse, in a snaffle and English saddle, in a nice, collected, round canter. (Yeah, he wouldn't be FEI level...but he knows the difference between me asking him to come round and work on the bit, and tracking cattle down the fence...without draw reins or much of anything else. 8 years of training tends to create that...)

  17. Looked up the draw rein. Found this site which does a good job of illustrating the rein itself.

  18. Yeah, I don't really appreciate "Better cowboyed than dressaged I'm thinking." I'm a dressage rider and try to be very open minded when it comes to some of the crazy and (yes) dumb stuff some of the local western riders do. I have total respect for good riders, no matter the discipline. I actually think dressage has more than its fair share of weak riders capitalizing on their horse's sweet dispositions and their trainer's expertise.

    That said, those are Vienna reins NOT draw reins. On top of that, draw reins DO have a purpose, and can be a great tool. They can also easily be abused (ask my horse about his past...). So can spurs. So can spade bits ... eh?

    According to US rules, you cannot ride a horse in a side/vienna rein set up at any time. You can warm up with draw reins, if you aren't trying to qualify for a national team. You cannot show with a gadget of any kind.

    That photo is wrong and pretty dumb looking. But, lets be fair here...

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  21. Okay, phew. Finally figured out what was going on - I was signed on with my
    wrong email account. No sense being a pest if you don't know who it is.

    You missed a comma.