Personally, I have never been very fond of quick fixes, especially not when it comes to animals. Through many years, I have spoken against the use of draw reins, and other similar gadgets used to place the horse’s head into a certain position. I’m against draw reins simply because there is many other alternatives.
And because of that, I have been called narrow-minded. I’m narrow-minded, because I’m open to healthier and more long lasting solutions. That doesn’t make any sense, does it?
If you have a problem about the position of your horse’s head, it’s a sign of something else being wrong. Then, you have two choices: to hide the symptom (the horse protesting, refusing to stretch his neck etc) or to actually solve the problem.
Maybe the draw reins will work for a year, but after that, you might face even bigger problems. It’s so much easier to simply start educating yourself and the horse from the beginning! A horse bending its neck is not a sign of correct training. Its the horse bending its neck! That alone is not good for anything but your own ego.
Dressage is about educating the horse to use his body to carry his rider in a correct way – without taking damage, building correct muscles and move with pride and joy for light signals.
If you find your horse protesting, you are doing something wrong. The best thing you can do at that point, is to do your very best to try to get it right – not to make it even more wrong. Pay attention to the horse, every little signal he gives to you is more valuable than a hundred lessons – if you chose to listen. And yet, many riders today choose to shut the horse’s mouth and “solve” the problem with even more gadgets …
Do you look at the head position … or do you look at the horse’s body?