DIY: Lauffer Reins (sliding side reins)
Squidy has been through a lot in the last couple years – a laceration that had her on stall rest for a couple months right before she was bred meant that she went into the pregnancy out of shape and therefore couldn’t really do athletic work throughout the entire pregnancy, especially since it was relatively high risk for abortion since she was older and needed some veterinary assistance to get in foal in the first place. So she basically went 2 years without working, and being the easy keeper that she is, and despite extra small mesh hay nets and grazing muzzles, she has been quite overweight that whole time. This resulted in her developing a bit of a sway back. Poor old girl.
She has now been gradually returning to work for a while and is ready to step up her fitness. That extra dip in her topline is improving, but is not back to normal yet. My plan for her is dressage all winter, including cavaletti, lateral work, backing up, and longing in side reins. We will also do conditioning on the trail, focusing on hill work.
I saw a blog post from Bakersfield Dressage about sliding side reins really helping her horse. I’ve never used them, but figured why not give it a try. I know “gadgets” are frowned upon in “proper” dressage, but I’m an endurance rider using dressage to help my horse, not a dressage purist…. ;) So well see how it goes.
I did some research via google and discovered that there are two types of sliding side reins: vienna reins that one end attaches to the girth between the legs and the other end attaches to the side of the horse, and lauffer reins where both ends attach to the side. I figured lauffer reins could also be attached between the legs if desired, so are more versatile, so that is what I went with. It also seems to me that attaching them higher (both on the sides) will encourage more uphill movement, but I’m not really sure about that. I plan to try them both ways.
I made mine with paracord, because that was what I had available. You could also use a slightly thicker cord or rope, maybe up to 1/4″. I had some tiny carabiners on hand, so that is what I used. You could also use different types of snaps.
I made them 7 feet long, so they could be adjustable for the long necked Standardbed gals too. You can see in the picture below that this length is too long for Squid, but they adjust shorter easily. If you have a big warmblood you might want to make them longer, and possibly shorter for ponies.
I ran each rein through a small metal ring and tied a simple knot that would be easy to loosen and slide. I tied a loop at each end and snapped on a mini carabiner. Then I snapped one carabiner to the metal ring and clipped another carabiner to the loop that made. That attaches to the girth or surcingle. To adjust the length you simply loosen the knot on the metal ring and slide it forward or backward, then retighten in desired location. I made sure both sides were the same length by hanging them together on the same hook to make sure the metal rings were at the same distance.
I’ve only used them twice so far, so the jury is still out on my opinion of them, but I can see how they might be helpful. It is always nice to add another trick to the toolbox.
More reading about the benefits of Lauffer reins: