- Braided reins – I have a love/hate relationship with these. They’re gorgeous, but how the hell do you keep them clean? Seriously – one ride on a hot day in Texas and it’s going to take you an hour to dig the scurf out of all those tiny cracks and crevices. I haven’t got the patience. But I won’t deny that they look awesome, and I am teensy bit jealous of those of you who have those beautiful fancy stitched braided reins. Ok, a whole lot jealous. Still, I don’t own any.
- Reins with stops – I love these, especially plain leather with leather stops. LOVE THEM. There’s just one tiiiiny problem – don't laugh, but I can only hold the damn things with my thumbs on the stops. I know, I know, you’re supposed to be able to hold them with the stops anywhere, but my brain never got this message. No matter how much I explain the theory to my hands (or my trainer yells at me to shorten my reins… again), 30 seconds later I find my thumbs on the next stop. It never fails. I’m mentally challenged somehow. This makes me sad, because I have like 3 sets of them.
- Rubber reins – I like these for XC, but good ones are hard to find and pricey. Lots of them are really stiff or super wide, which makes them hard to hold, or they are the webbed ones with stops (and we already know that stops are my kryptonite). Also, for dressage, I don’t want super grippy pebbled reins. In the summer, friction on the horse’s neck from the reins just makes more lather on the neck. Not attractive.
- Plain reins – These are my FAVORITES. I rode Cash in plain reins for years. Easy to clean, I can hold them anywhere and my brain doesn’t melt down. The problem? Mr. Haffington can pull like a freight train… which means he can pull the reins right through my hands. Yes, I ride with grippy gloves, but I don’t have enough strength in my hands to hold the reins when he’s running through my aids. Maybe in a year or two when he’s lighter? For now they have been relegated to Red’s bridle and the spare leather bits box.
I know, they don't look too exciting, do they?
And wow, I’ve been riding in them ever since. I LOVE these reins, LOVE THEM. They are super comfortable in my hand – the Thinline material has a little give to it, and they’re more of a round shape (but not so much that it’s awkward) than flat leather, so I find them easier to grab. They don’t stretch, and they don’t slip AT ALL. In fact I find that I can hold them in much less of a death grip, even if Paddy’s being strong, which means I’m carrying less tension in my arms and shoulders. They clean up quickly and easily, which is just my style.
Boo black mark on his neck.
I have two complaints about them – first, the black ones come with running martingale stops, which I had to cut off (well, I pulled out the stitching to remove them). Not sure why black dressage reins would have stops? Oh well. The other issue is that they leave a faint black mark on Paddy’s neck, but I think that will go away with a few more cleanings and a bit more wear. I’ve seen a few complaints in online reviews that the Thinline material doesn’t last, but hopefully that’s not the case because DAMN, these things are awesome!
So in the event that you are rein-challenged like me and you have some extra money just burning a hole in your pocket, give these things a try! Oh, and… anybody want three sets of plain leather reins with stops?