Letters: 12/00

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Rein-Aid Responds
Thank you for including Rein-Aid in your field test “Rein Additions For Feel” (October 2000). We agree with your statement that our elastic inserts “produce little interference with the regular feel of the rein.” This is intentional. Rather than viewing Rein-Aid as a “gadget,” we consider the addition of Rein-Aid to tack no different than changing bits or nosebands in search of a better “feel” in the rider’s hand. Rein-Aid’s stiff and durable elastic is a result of an extensive three-year testing period of different elastomers using a wide variety of horses, riders and trainers. This testing determined that the percentage of stretch plus strength required to reach maximum extension is a factor critical to Rein-Aid’s effectiveness. Elastomers that stretched too easily, under little pressure, compromised control and the ability to half-halt.

The Rein-Aid concept is to soften the contact without changing the horse’s prompt response to the bit. This makes it suitable for difficult or untrained horses, as well as intermediate riders (many of whom compete) who are learning how to influence and improve their horses’ way of going. The value of Rein-Aid is realized over time as the horse gains confidence in his rider’s ability not to lock the contact or freeze, for even a moment. This trust dramatically improves performance but, as with the skill of learning “feel,” will not be noticed in one session but rather developed over time.

-Kim Keppick
President, Rein-Aid Productions
Middleburg, VA

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Says No To Rein Additions
What now' Rein Additions' (See October 2000.) When will people learn that all the fancy gadgets in the world will not make up for proper training of both horse and rider' And, no, I do not think they should be legal. If you have heavy hands, you need to work on that, and a small piece of elastic or leather is not going to change your heavy hands. The same thing goes for bits. If your horse is not responding, you need to go back to your basics and start again with a snaffle (I choose to use a running martingale, too) and retrain your horse to respect the communication and give to you.

Instead, most people go to larger or harsher bits and anger or frustration instead of cool-headed thinking about the behavior they are getting and why. They should take responsibility for that, setting forth with a trainer, or even a video camera, to see what is happening and making an attempt to right it.

Most behavior problems come from miscommunication between horse and rider. Fix these and you don’t need gadgets. Watch any of the truly great riding teams and you will see less is more. That goes all the way from dressage and jumping to reining to just your basic go-down-the-trail horse. A well-trained horse is a joy forever. Stick to what is functional and get rid of what is not.

-M. Brenner
Anchorage, AK

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The Big Picture
Kudos to you for the November editorial (“It’s Supposed To Be Fun”). As a former trainer, I found it to be more of a challenge to keep parental expectations realistic and positive than it was to teach the students horsemanship.

The manner in which parents (and trainers) deal with situations can impact so much more than just a trip around the course. You are absolutely on target: “In the big picture of life it doesn’t make that much difference.”

-Sandy Rose
Hamilton, VA