Simple reins can help you direct your horse towards the direction you want it to go and when to go backward or stop. As your skills in riding develop over time, you will gain knowledge of how to use your reins to give your horse cues more subtly. But the first thing you need to learn is how to hold the reins correctly. Knowing how to hold them correctly will help you effectively cue the horse, and so you don’t start any habits that would cause confusion or discomfort to your horse.
Direct reining is mostly associated with English style riding, and it’s where you’ll hold one rein in each hand. Keep the reins in the middle of your ring finger and pinky. The rein goes over your palm, and it wraps around and comes out over your pointer finger. You should have your thumb facing up, which makes it so that the rein’s end with a buckle comes out of your fist’s top. Your knuckles should line up around thirty degrees from the horizontal axis. You shouldn’t have your thumbs pointing straight towards the sky, and you don’t want your fist to face flat along the ground. You aren’t supposed to grasp the reins tighter than needed since it will tire out your hands and make the reins heavy and stiff for the horse. Also, you shouldn’t grasp the reins looser than you have to since it will slide through your fingers, which makes it ineffective.
You have to keep your hands, wrists, forearms, and elbows in a line. Keep your hands in a direct line that goes from the mouth of your horse up to your elbow. Your hands should move with the horse as it moves its neck and head when you ride around. Make sure your body doesn’t move back and forth, but the movement of your body should be coming from your shoulders and arms. The movement should be like you’re trying to reach towards something in front of you, but you shouldn’t make your body bend forward. Keep your wrists steady and maintain the line that’s straight from your elbow to the horse’s mouth.
If you have a horse that you neck rein, then it’s going to be handy. It doesn’t matter what riding style you have. When you’re neck reining, you’d only use one hand to hold both of the reins. It’s the tradition to use the left hand when you hold the reins since the cowboys of the past had to keep their dominant hand ready. It doesn’t matter, though if you’re not working cattle and only riding the horse.
You’re supposed to hold the reins with their ends attached inside of your fist that’s oriented vertically. The reins have to come from the bottom of your hand, then out the top of your fist. Make sure it goes over your thumb, which you have to angle your hand higher than you would with direct reining. With your free hand, you can carry your reins’ ends, lean it against one of your legs, or keep it in a way that makes sure you’re sitting on the saddle squarely.