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Reins for English Riding Disciplines

Reins come in a variety of types to suit individual rider preferences, to meet the needs and/or rules of the rider’s discipline and to coordinate with a bridle. Most bridles come with reins that are appropriately styled to match the look and purpose of the bridle. However, reins are easily swapped if a rider wishes to use a different type, width or length. Reins should also be replaced if signs of wear or deterioration become evident.

Types of English reins include:
• Laced reins, traditional on hunter bridles, provide textural grip and classic styling.
• Fancy-stitched reins have “fronts,” a section of smooth leather, embellished with decorative stitching to coordinate with fancy stitching on the bridle’s browband and noseband. Found in the hunter and jumping disciplines, fancy stitching (as opposed to plain styling) is a rider’s preference on how the styling complements a horse’s face.
• Rubber reins with a pebble-like texture on both sides provide grip in all weathers; they’re a favorite for cross-country riders, jumpers and trail riders. Rainbow rubber reins have segmented coloring that can be a useful visual aid for riders learning to maintain rein lengths; they’re a favorite of riding instructors.
• Rubber-lined reins feature a thin layer of textural, grippy rubber on one side and supple leather or synthetic material on the other side. They often have hand stops to provide extra hold. This type of rein is popular with dressage riders and event riders.
• Web rubber reins, also commonly used with dressage bridles, may be made out of cotton-like webbing or grippy synthetic webbing with hand stops.
• Curb reins, used with Weymouth and Pelham bits, attach to a ring at the lower end of the bit’s shank. When a curb rein aid is used, the leverage on the shank of the bit travels up to the horse’s poll.

Reins attach to bit rings with either hook stud closures or buckle ends. Riders generally choose the type of rein closure to match the closures on the cheek pieces of their bridle.

Rein Widths & Lengths
Snaffle bit reins come in 5/8" and 3/4" widths. Curb reins are 1/2" wide to allow a rider to distinguish it from the snaffle rein by feel.

Reins come in a variety of lengths, typically 48" for ponies, 52" for cobs or small horses, 54" for average sized horses and 60" for oversize horses. When ordering a bridle that includes reins, check the bridle size chart for rein length as they vary by manufacturer.

Rein Stops
Some reins come with leather or rubber rein stops intended to be used with a running martingale or other training aid. Rein stops help prevent the attachment from becoming entangled with or interfering with the bit rings. They can be removed if not needed.