1-End of rein that hooks to bridle. What works best left longer? right longer? or the same, I have recieved alot of well meaning advise from local oldtimers but it all is different.
Answer : The direct rein goes to the outside of the horse, the coupling rein goes to the inside of the other horse. Looking at your left rein, the piece of leather that is one piece, is your direct rein. The coupling rein starts at the coupling buckle and continues to the bit of the other horse. When you lay your rein out on the ground, the coupling rein is longer because it travels a longer distance, ie from the coupling buckle to the inside of the other horse. The solid piece of leather that travels from your hand to the left side of the left horse is the direct rein, the coupling rein travels from the coupling buckle to the left side of the right horse. Half halt on this rein and both horses feel a half halt on the left side of their mouth. And the same is true for the right rein.
2-Routing of reins. This afternoon tried left rein through hame then on to bridle for left horse other end direct to left of bridle on right horse and the same idea for the right rein. Control was reasonable but did not seem even enough for both horses. What is the proper method?
Answer : 1. find your direct rein for example lets use the left side again, and run it through the turrets on the left side (outside) of the left horse and attach it to the left side of the bit. 2. Find your coupling rein which starts at the coupling buckle and run it through the right side turrets of the left horse and leave it free, when you put to, you will attach this to the left side of the bit of the right horse. 3. Take the hand piece of your rein and loosely tie it up on the left side turret so when you put to, you know quickly that this is the left side horse because the reins are on the left side.
3-Right horse at anything other than a run always pulls harder than the left horse. I tried setting the trace chains on the left horse as short as possible and for the right horse as long as possible but they still do not pull even. Any advise?
Answer : Assuming your horses are the same size and have the same size neck....
1. Start with the traces at the same length for both horses so that if and when they are behaving properly, they will at least have a chance of working together.
2. Find your neutral on your coupling buckles. The setting of the coupling buckle determines the distance each horse is from the pole and must be at neutral for them to travel straight. For example, if you were driving a single and held your right rein 6 inches shorter than your left, it would be impossible for your horse to travel in a straight line because you are pulling his head around. The same is true for your coupling reins, only now you have to make sure your left direct rein and your right coupling rein are giving equal pressure on both sides of the bit. Many achenbach reins come with a standard measurement, Fjord size horses would be at 5 holes open from your hand on both reins to be at neutral, larger horses may be at 6 or 7 open holes, but 5 open is a good place to start. At this setting, the direct rein and coupling rein should be giving equal pressure to the bit of each horse. If their heads are tilted in towards each other, the coupling reins are to short so move your coupling buckles away from your hand one hole to six open holes. If their heads are tilted out, they are too long so move the coupling buckle towards your hand to have 4 open holes on each rein.
3. Make note of your neutral, if it is 5 open holes per rein, you have 10 open holes total. Remember this number. It is important because no matter how you now adjust your coupling reins, the open holes must total 10 for there to be equal pressure on each horse's bit.
4. So your problem is that you have a goer and a lazy one...the age old dilema of pairs and a fact that drove me to tandem :) You want to strongly suggest to the forward one to slow down but not tell the lazy one to slow down. To do this, you need to shorten your reins on the forward one, so lets say the forward one is on the right. 4a. Bring the coupling buckle on your left rein back towards your hand 1 hole (now you have 4 open holes) This rein goes from the buckle on the left rein to left side of the right(forward) horse's mouth.
4b. Move the coupling buckle on your right rein away from your hand 1 hole ( now you have 6 open holes) This rein goes from the buckle on your right rein to the right side of the left (lazy) horse's mouth. You still have 10 open holes but now you have more contact on your right (forward) horse and the left (lazy) horse now has less contact on his bit when you pull back on the reins. In this case, a picture is truely worth a thousand words and it is much easier if you even draw this on a piece of paper for yourself, if you can't find a picture.
5. If you need to still hold the forward one back, you can change your buckles again, just make sure your holes always total of 10, for this example.
6. If you have different cheek pieces, like a snaffle or butterfly on one and a liverpool on the other, the snaffle ring itself will make the rein one hole longer. Your buckles can be at 5 and 5 but your horses will feel like they are at 6 and 4 so the horse with the snaffle will be let out one hole and the one in the liverpool will be pulled back one hole. If you have a butterfly on the forward horse and a liverpool on the lazy one, when you take contact, you are pulling harder on the liverpool than on the butterfly. This could give the impression that the butterfly is dragging you off but really, he is let out a hole. You are telling the liverpool to halt now and telling the butterfly to slow down a bit. To adjust this, the coupling rein that attaches to the butterfly bit, and crosses over into your opposite hand, needs to be taken back 1 hole and the coupling rein that attaches to the liverpool and attaches to your opposite hand needs to be moved forward 1 hole, in essence letting the liverpool horse out one hole to make up for the distance of the butterfly loop.
7. If you do not drive at neutral all the time, it is a good idea to assign one rein to each horse so when you periodically switch sides, you don't accidentally change your settings.
Pairs are a great challenge and learning experience for you and the horses. I have made every mistake adjusting my reins possible, we all do. Finding your neutral is half the battle but once you do that, the rest is just a bit of trial and error to find your sweet spot and have a fantastic pair ! Then you will be ready for 4s ;)