Draw reins are a training aid that can sometimes be useful for a Mustang horse. These reins are only used when the horse is being ridden under a saddle. The horse must also be wearing a bridle that has been fitted with a snaffle bit. There should also be regular reins in addition to the draw reins.
This will help you do the flatwork more efficiently that some Mustangs just don’t like to do. They’re available in leather, nylon, or cotton webbing. If you live in a wet environment, it is better to use leather since they don’t tend to get as slick as the other options.
What Are Draw Reins?
Draw reins are just one continuous strap. They are generally 15-17 feet in length and are buckled in the center. You’ll then have ends that loop around the girth of the Mustang from both directions. You’ll need to position the ends about halfway from the bottom of the saddle flap to the elbow. Then the draw reins go from the girth and through the bit rings.
You won’t have much stopping power from the draw reins, which is why you need the regular reins as well. Just hold both sets of reins as if you were using a double bridle with the Mustang.
Is It Dangerous to Use Draw Reins with a Mustang?
As with any training tool, there is the potential for misuse or even abuse when it comes to the use of draw reins. They are often used when there is a lack of progression in training and the horse is beginning to refuse to listen. Applying draw reins to a frustrated horse will only add to the training frustration.
There are several reasons why a Mustang may be unwilling or unable to continue training. Many may feel that an unwillingness to work is the most important behavioral need to address, but that isn’t necessarily true. These issues tend to need to be addressed when drawing a Mustang more than compliance.
- Lack of Understanding. If the Mustang was adopted from a program, there is a good chance that the horse does not understand what it is being asked to do. The horse may still be trying to learn your training language. Draw reins can be used in this instance if the goal is to teach the basics that the horse needs to know.
- Previous Incorrect Training. Sometimes horses are taught, either purposely or accidentally, that an incorrect response was actually acceptable. You might be asking the horse to slow, but the training from your body language was to speed up. Discipline does not change this response. The horse must “unlearn” what it has learned.
- Pain. If a Mustang is uncomfortable or experiences pain, there will be high levels of resistance. This type of response may require a thorough examination by a veterinarian to make sure there aren’t issues with injuries, illness, or even arthritis.
Mustangs may also not be responsive for the reason that what you’re asking of them is beyond their level of carriage. This breed is not used to the riding experience unless there are multiple generations that have been domesticated, so assuming the horse is able to perform is often a mistake.
Draw reins can be used to discover the horse’s point of self-carriage, allowing you to progress with your training from there.
But My Mustang is Stubborn and Unwilling – What Can I Do?
It is easy to think that a horse is just being stubborn on purpose. We’ve all encountered horses that seem to be bullies, jerks, or practical jokers. Yet this is a common misperception that is often held about horses and it is a mistake.
A Mustang doesn’t wake up in the morning to plot ways to make you frustrated. Horses don’t think that way. A horse is stubborn because there are other factors that are influencing the behavior. Address those factors and you’ll be able to reduce the resistance that you’re experiencing with your training.
Mustangs tend to throw up their head or poke out their nose more than usual when draw reins are first used. This is a normal behavior. You can reduce this behavior sometimes by warming up with the regular reins, then having a draw rein training session that is 15 minutes or less. Then return to the regular reins once again for the rest of your time.
If you change your training techniques out of frustration, then the horse will respond to your stubbornness with unwillingness. It becomes a power struggle where no one wins. To avoid this, don’t enter into the struggle. Try the draw reins tomorrow instead.
Why Use Draw Reins?
Knowing how to draw a mustang horse means that you’re teaching the horse that he is able to lower his head while under saddle. Some horses are unfamiliar with the process of stretching downward. When they feel the contact from standard reins while stretching forward, the result can be one of uncertainty or even unease. With your fist around the reins and your leg on, you’ll be able to change the perspective for the horse.
Sometimes the draw reins are used to forcibly “crank” the head of a Mustang downward because there is a certain level of stubbornness within the breed. This is not what the process is intended to do. You want to encourage the horse to lower his head and neck, bring the nose just a bit ahead of vertical. Then, when this correct positioning is achieved, you can put slack back into the draw reins.
Draw reins can be particularly effective if you have an older Mustang that tends to keep their head high and the nose out.
For younger Mustangs, however, draw reins should never be introduced until the horse has been able to learn how to ride under the saddle. The horse should be able to walk and trot, as well as canter, in both straight lines and circles before the draw reins are introduced.
Mustangs tend to be nervous or excited as well, so introducing the draw reins can be a tricky situation. You need the horse to have an experience that is calm and reassuring so the process can be completely smoothly. If you’re unfamiliar with draw reins and you use them incorrectly on a nervous Mustang, there’s a good chance the horse will bolt and that puts both of you at risk.
Using draw reins can be beneficial, but it should not be a training tool that is utilized on a daily basis. Use them instead as more of a reminder when you experience more resistance or if you’re trying to introduce an exercise that is more complex than you’ve attempted before. This will allow you to know how to draw a mustang horse effectively so that your relationship can continue to grow strong.