Reins - and How They Connect Horses and Driver
Holding driving reins is very different from holding those for riding.
See here how you hold lines according to the famous "Achenbach" method, which is widespread over continental Europe. It was developed in Germany by Benno von Achenbach, the founder of a very practical, safe and comfortable approach to drive horses.Basic Holdingmethod
Holdingmethod for General Use
Holdingmethod for Work or Dressage
Watch Out For:
Lines are made of leather, best is russet leather and are usually brown no matter if the harness is black or brown. (Black leather stains the clothing.)
To hold them comfortable and safe enough they should have a certain width depending on the individual size of the hand of the driver. It is mentioned that e.g. women prefer a width of around 22 mm, men a width of 25 mm. The thickness is around 13 - 19 mm. The average length for single horses is around 4 m, for teams of four or a tandem around 7.2 m.
They have to be long enough, but not too long, because the driver's feet could be caught by them. If they are too short they could be ripped out of the hand.
If they are too broad, it becomes uncomfortable to hold them, too narrow ones are easier slipping through the hand, if the horse pulls on them and if they become wet.
It is essential to keep them in a pliable condition that you can hold them comfortably and that you are able to give more delicate and light "commands" through them to your horse.
On the horse's end are the billets, which connect them to the bit. The billets need to be controlled and watched carefully for signs of wearing and saliva should be washed down immediately after use.
They are made out of 3 to 4 pieces of premium quality russet leather. Those leather pieces are being spliced and sewn together.
Tips on Buying
If you buy reins have a good look on those splices:
On new gear they should never be in places, where they are going through terrets.
The stitching will wear and become damaged after a certain time and may break there.
These Graphics show, how horses and driver in Single and Pairs are connected to each other. You can see that there are couplings and drafts and that the couplings change side.