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by Downunder Horsemanship

Training Tip: Fixing a Horseback Riding Issue Without Mecate Reins

Question: Frosty is a 9-year-old sensitive Quarter Horse that I have begun with the Fundamentals and ride English. What do I do when I come off on a trail ride? I can’t take off his bridle and put on his rope halter and line. Do I dust off and move his feet under saddle or unhook the buckle on my reins and move him from the ground, using the reins like a lead line? – DanaSmith

Answer: You do whatever you need to do and what you are confident doing. First, just because you ride English doesn’t mean you can’t use mecate reins. While western riders can loop the lead rope around their saddle horns, English riders can tuck the lead rope up and over through their belts. Notice I said “tuck,” not “tie.” You’d never want to tie the reins to yourself because you’d be in a very dangerous situation if you came off your horse. Or, you can tie the lead rope around the horse’s neck using a cavalry knot. This will keep the lead rope secure and you’ll be able to easily grab it when you need it. I love using mecate reins because when I do need to get off and correct a horse, it’s very easy to do so.

If you don’t ride with mecate reins, then you need to work with whatever you have. Remember, when you’re correcting your horse and working on getting him to use the thinking side of his brain, you want to hustle his feet and ask him to change directions as often as possible. You can certainly accomplish those goals with your English reins.

If you’re a confident rider and feel in control of the situation, there’s no need to fix your horse’s behavior from the ground. You can get his attention on you by hustling his feet from the saddle. Ride him in a series of serpentines, trot or canter circles and change directions as often as possible.

With all that being said, if you’re coming off your horse on the trail on a regular basis, it’d be a good idea to brush up on your Fundamentals in the arena, especially One Rein Stops. If you don’t address the issue, your horse’s behavior will only get worse.

Have a horsemanship question or looking for more training tips? Check out the No Worries Club.