Pair Driving 103

by Hardy Zantke

Rein Adjustment

In my Article Pairs 101 I wrote briefly about the four basic rein adjustments. Let me explain a bit more the adjustment No 3 that I mentioned there, the necessary adjustments for the pair with one eager and one lazy horse.

We have in almost every pair one horse that is more eager than the other. Almost no pair has both working completely even. It’s called "a willing pair", one is eager to work, and the other is eager to let ‘em :-).

We need to take the eager one back a hole in the reins, which means at the same time that the lazy one is let out one hole in the reins. Here is how that works.

Let's assume our left horse is the lazy one and our right horse is the eager one. Now let's take the eager one back one hole in the reins. That means on our LEFT rein, we move the coupling rein buckle BACK one hole - which shortens the coupling rein which goes from the LEFT draft rein over to the right horse by one hole - and since the end of the reins aren't fixed in our hands, it also means that the draft rein to the left horse now got longer by one hole. So now we adjusted the LEFT rein for BOTH horses with this, left rein of right horse got shorter and left rein of left horse got longer.

Since we don't want to drive crooked, we now must do a similar adjustment on the RIGHT rein, only there we must do it in the OPPOSITE direction, e.g. the right rein buckle must move FORWARD one hole. That has the effect of lengthening the coupling rein which crosses over to the left horse, and by the same token, of shortening the draft rein to the right horse.

So with that we now adjusted the RIGHT rein of BOTH horses accordingly. NOW the left (lazy) horse has one hole longer reins on both sides of his mouth, and with that has more room to step out a little more (which we still need to encourage with our whip that he does, but now we gave him the room for it), and our eager right horse has his reins one hole shorter on both sides of his mouth, so we keep him back in our hand more.

Our beginners in pair drivers: Please take your time to read this again until you clearly understanding it. This is one of the fundamentals in pair driving. It is better explained with drawings, etc. in many good books, like "The Principles of Driving by the German National Equestrian Federation" or "Max Pape: The Art of Driving". It is VERY important to always adjust the coupling reins on BOTH reins, never only one, as otherwise you would get your horses crooked.

As I explained briefly in Pair Driving 101 we have three different kinds of adjustments. The above is one of those three.