“Bridging” your reins is a way for riders to maintain a steady contact with their horse’s mouth when riding.
It keeps the rider from fussing with their horse’s mouth, from inadvertently pulling back, or from having the reins pulled through their fingers by a horse that pulls. It’s also a helpful technique to know when you’re hacking out and need to hold your reins in one hand.
- Hold your reins so that you have light contact when your hands are 4-6″ in front of your horse’s withers.
- Take the “bite” of the rein from one hand and cross it over the horse’s neck so the reins are stacked on top of each other.
- Grab the stacked reins with both hands.
- Hold the doubled “bridge” of reins on either side of the horse’s neck.
- Press down on your horse’s neck to remove any slack.
- Hold the bridge approximately where the neck strap of a martingale or breastplate would be located.
Some trainers suggest that students tie a knot in their reins and hold at that point. This also helps you keep a steady contact but it does not allow you to easily slip the reins when needed.
Hooking your index finger through your breastplate can also help stabilize your hands and keep you from pulling (or being pulled).
You can buy reins that come with a bridging attachment such as the “4-Star Bridging Reins“.