Riding Skills: Emergency Stopping Rein

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Question Category: Riding Skills

Question: Dear Julie,

My husband and myself went to your clinic on fear of horses at the Horse Expo in Denver and I cant thank you enough!! I thought we would be the only ones there. I was just amazed at how many people showed up! I have never been afraid of horses (or so I thought), until I bought my own. I always rode lesson horses or horses on ranches that had trail rides. Those horses don’t seem to have a mind of their own. I would get terrible butterflies in my stomach when I would get on my horse and couldn’t wait to get off. I hated the fact that I loved my horse but didn’t want to ride him. I didn’t realize I was doing this to myself, I am one of the “what if’-ers”. After seeing you in person and listening to your CD and reading your book Ride with Confidence!, have gone away! I am still riding him in the round pen, but hope to soon feel good enough to ride him in the arena and then beyond! I was wondering if you have a video or a little more of an explanation on the “pulley rein stop”. I do the one rein stop but have often wondered about them falling while being turned if they are running fast. I would like to know more about it. Thanks again! I don’t know if I would ever of gotten over my fear. Just knowing that it was ok to feel that way and how to deal with it made all the difference.

Diana and Grizzly

Answer: Diana,

Thank you for your kind email. I am thrilled to hear of your success and I really appreciate you letting me know. Stay in the round pen as long as you want. Venture out when you are ready; it doesn’t matter how long that takes. The more you ride there, the better prepared you will be to venture out. Unfortunately I do not have the pulley rein on video yet, but it will be in one of my next videos.
Below is an excerpt about the pulley rein from a Q&A about the one-rein stop and horses that run through the bridle. It is a very difficult thing to teach via email and it really needs a visual, but perhaps this will help. Good luck and congratulations on your progress!! I love to hear success stories and it is important for others to know it can be done!

Julie Goodnight, Clinician and Trainer

“The pulley rein is executed by shortening one rein as tight as you can and pushing your knuckles of that hand into the horse’s neck, with your hand braced and centered over its neck (it is important that this hand is pressed into the neck and not floating free). Then you slide your other hand down the other rein as far forward as you can and pull straight back and up with all your weight. Since the first rein is locked and braced, it is preventing your horse’s head from turning and he is pulling against his own neck, so the pull on the second rein creates a lot of pressure.
If the pulley rein is executed correctly, you can stop a runaway horse on its nose. This is far preferable to pulling the out-of-control horse into a circle, since that may cause him to lose his footing and fall down. This technique requires some practice and the practice can be very hard on your horse, so many instructors do not like to teach this emergency stopping technique. However, when you are out of control, it is a great tool to have in your bag of tricks and it can be very useful for slowing down a very strong horse, with a little pulley action every few strides then a release (use it with your half-halt).

One of the very worst things you can do, when trying to slow down or stop a horse, is pull back on both reins at the same time. This will almost always make the horse stiffen its neck and lock its jaw and may also pull you up and out of the saddle, or even right over the horse’s ears (arse over tea-kettle, so to speak).

Pulling on both reins continuously will often cause the horse to “run through the bridle,” and the harder you pull the faster it goes. Horses are way more responsive to using the reins alternately, which is far more likely to keep them soft in the neck and flexing in the poll. Ironically, most people have been taught to pull back on both reins at the same time to stop, when using one rein can be much more effective. Therefore, the other technique I would teach for better control is a one-rein stop or a disengagement of the hindquarters.”

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