Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My New BFFS: Vienna Reins

Due to exciting and ongoing complications of having my tiny car smashed by a giant truck whilst I was driving it, riding is still out of the question. Or at least, when I put it in the question, Alyssa and Lindsey rain down hell until I remember I'm brain damaged and probably should listen to them.

However, Courage needs to go back to work. He's had over a month off. I do want to ride again EVENTUALLY and I need to get him thinking and working so my trainer can start back with him. Thus, when a friend recommended vienna reins to me, I told her they were a terrible idea because of how claustrophobic C and and promptly bought a set. #tackho

If you're not familiar with Vienna reins, they're a lunging aid. One strap clips to the center of the girth between the forelegs and runs up towards the bit. Then the strap forks. I run one strap through either ring of the snaffle (inside to outside) and clip it back to the surcingle. This would work well in a saddle also, but given I was afraid someone would lose his shit and die, I'd rather trash the $10 garage sale surcingle than the $$$$ Custom saddle.

The effect of the Vienna reins on the horse is pretty simple. The horse can move it's head and neck around within the range of the reins. The horse works the reins themselves--if they push up, the reins pull down (sort of), but the moment the horse gives, the reins do too. It's bloody brilliant, frankly.

If you've looked at my many (many many) lunging pictures from the past year, you probably noticed that I had been running the lunging line through the inside bit ring back to the girth with one fixed outside side rein. This arrangement was preferable to two fixed reins, which Courage will just invert and brace against, but when he kicked it in to flight mode, it still gave him something to really brace on and blast away.
zoom zoom zoom
The beauty of the vienna reins is that nothing is fixed--Courage can't hit "that point" and really lock his body against them AND when he tries to fling his head and take off (like... always), he gets that steady downward pressure that instantly releases when he lowers his head.

What's more, my main question mark with these was that since there is no way to fully "release" them if he panicked, would they kick his claustrophobia into overdrive and do more harm than good?

day one

day two

day three
Answer: apparently not. I introduced these pretty gradually--just hand walking and w/t the first day, then a few days off, then w/t and sneak in half a canter the second, then actual work and trot poles (!!) the third.
right lead canter? can it be?

Courage the claustrophobic princess hasn't protested once. Not even a little.  He figured them out quickly and seems completely fine with them. Last time we worked in them, he had some distractions and acted up a big, but since there is nothing for him to brace on, the freak out/flail response was markedly less dramatic.

SPOOK
I think my favorite thing about this setup is that it acts on both sides of the horse evenly. With the other lunging set up we used, Courage tended to track unevenly behind and be VERY crooked to the right. The Vienna reins are the same on both sides, so Courage is tracking up evenly both directions and I have a few more options to try and keep him straight to the right.

not bad for being freshly back in work
 I never think lunging is an ideal way to spend time, but it's what we have right now. I'm very pleased with the work Courage is putting in. Instead of fighting the flail, I'm experimenting with exercises to encourage him to push from behind, lift his withers, and reach forward to the bit. Omg! Sort of like dressage!


Eventually, I'll be back in that (very expensive) saddle of mine, but until that day, I'm glad I've found a way to get Courage working again.

PS link to video if you're very, very bored.

24 comments:

  1. Glad you've found something that works for both of you until you can get back in the saddle! And now I also kind of want a pair, because I'm also a tack ho and you're a terrible influence on me 😂 lol

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    1. Dude they were $40 shipped on eBay. How could I not? Definitely get a set.

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    2. You know, of course, that I just ran an eBay search. Thankfully (or not??), I didn't find any for $40 haha. But I'll definitely be keeping an eye out on the swap sites. I like having "tools" for the toolbox, even if I don't use them often!

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    3. Well, I searched every day for a week, I think. ;-) They weren't listed that long.

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  2. I'm so glad he likes these. He looks great in the stills! I feel the same way about the pessoa rig. It allows them to sort of figure it out on their own, but giving even pressure and support on both sides. Some horses don't tolerate the rope behind them, but I've had good success! My new guy is a little on the claustrophobic side too and he did quite well his first time! Hope you're able to get back in the saddle soon!

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    1. My problem with the pessoa is that it's $$$ for like $10 worth of rope and hardware, but I'm definitely not crafty enough to make my own. I'd be curious to play with one but it hasn't happened yet.

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    2. I have a schneiders fauxsoa and I really like it. Way better price point too.

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    3. Good point--hadn't thought of looking there.

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    4. I got annoyed with all the Pessoa fauxssoa pieces. He looks like he stays quite well engaged behind without something across his butt. Looks like you've found a winner!

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  3. You're making me want a set of these... I wonder if my brace-against-all-the-things horse would release herself or just bracebracebrace...

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    1. Haha yeah I was legit terrified to try these. Very pleased and surprised with how well it's gone.

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    2. Mine doesn't... get reactive... like yours does... so I think you were quite right in being terrified. He looks lovely, though, so I'm off to ebay to see if I can find a deal like yours :D

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  4. so awesome that it's working so well for him!!! i've been considering trying out different setups for charlie but haven't pulled the trigger on anything yet

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    1. You are a model of... financial restraint.

      There's a word in there I can't think of.

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  5. So glad you found a setup that works for him! Paddy just leans on side reins and is 100X heavier after, and Taran sucks behind them. Both go great in a chambon. Gotta find what works for each horse!

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    1. The Hellmare did really well in sidereisn for a few minutes 1x a week and got REALLY heavy if we did any more than that. So many different types of horses!

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  6. Vienna reins are my favorite lunging apparatus. Never have been a big fan of regular side reins!

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  7. I've taken a page out of your book and I'm lunging Miles a bit this winter. I'm starting with a loosely adjusted Pessoa.

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  8. I love Vienna reins for lunging.

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  9. Very cool! I have a friend who uses a neck stretcher like this and since I have one I may try doing something like this with mine

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  10. These are definitely my favorite too! Much better than regular side reins. Glad Courage likes them.

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  11. These are pretty cool! I've definitely used a German Martingale in the saddle which functions pretty similarly, but I didn't know this was an option. I'm pretty curious now.

    If you get super bored to tears lunging, you can practice making shapes. I like to make squares, and make the horse spiral in and out when I'm super duper bored. So like 4 minutes in.

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  12. These are cool! We use 'European Balancing Side Reins' and they seem to function pretty similarly.

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  13. Since you're still not cleared for riding, now would be a good time to do some work with Courage in long lines. You can 'fix the horse' and have the benefit of seeing your progress for yourself.

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