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Rein Chain Rudiments

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Rein chains ("cadenas") may attach directly to bridle reins or via simple latigo connectors (they handle moisture and are far more flexible than the klunky, heavy braided rawhide connectors). Your rein signal is not impacted.

Many commercial pairs of bridle reins (often referred to as romal reins) come with rather bulky braided rawhide, calf or kangaroo connectors. We have found it best to remove these.

Why? First, they will break, but anything braided is fairly strong so the wreck may be a fair sized one before they do. Second, they tend to twist and interfere with the transmission of the signal given through the reins to the bridle the horse is packing or carrying. Finally, replacing one is time consuming and can cost more than alternatives.

Our light CC latigo rein connectors with simple rolled buttons are an excellent option. You do not want them heavy or wide.

The little CC button-on latigo connectors should provide the "weak link" in the and break if fouled or trouble erupts. They tend to remain straight and don't interfere with the signal that is being transmitted to the horse. Not cumbersome, they look good and are easy to replace, yet don't cost an arm and a leg.

The use of smaller rein chain connectors also allows the use of standard length rein chains. If the horse accidentally hangs up on the corral, brush or an active cow down the fence diving through the reins, the connectors should break first.

Rein chains serve several purposes:

  • They allow the reins to hang in a gentle curve from the rider's hands to the bit.

  • Paired with most of the California style cheek pieces (especially the Santa Barbara), rein chains will enhance the weight balance and signal inherent to this type of bridle bit.

  • They help to protect braided bridle reins from the effects of water when a horse drinks from a creek or a trough.

  • Foam or slobber is easily removed.

  • Well-chosen rein chains, in combination with the entire bridle, can help with the amplification of the signal given and received.

A Pacific Slope bridle consists of:

  • the headstall designed specifically for CA style bit action

  • the bit

  • the curb strap

  • rein chains

  • rein chain connectors

  • romal reins
They all work together to provide pre-load and should be balanced for optimal performance success.

Rein chains run from six to 13 inches in length which includes the connectors. There is usually (but not always) a swivel at one end to aid in keeping the chain straight. If the bit has swivel hooks ("ganchos") or stirrups, then the rein chain swivel is attached to the rein portion. There are also some that have a swivel in the middle of the chain.

CA bridle reins are traditionally 42 inches long (measure the end of the rein to the connector to the attached romal portion, not the entire rein). Connectors can vary in length depending upon the work involved and the degree of education the horse has attained. They most often take a 10-12.5 inch chain. Lengths chosen depend upon the circumstances of work, the weight desired, the length of the horse's neck and in what stage of bridling he is found. For example, a horse coming into bridle frame naturally will take shorter chains due to the neck arc.

Shorter chains are most effectively used with the 46-48 inch bridle reins which were developed for the show ring. Or, in the arena, sometimes clips are used to connect the reins directly to the bit. These tend to dull the signal. Any reins over the 48 inch versions should be reserved for very large horses, if used at all. They may also be employed when going down the fence for cow classes. Some animated cows in an attempt to avoid a horse will dive through the reins and cause a wreck.

Weight of chains, color and the style are personal preference and should work in conjunction with your whole bridle for balance and the needed purpose. Some horses are bothered by longer chains especially if their gaits are animated. If participating in ranch work, they should be sturdy. If going down the fence in cow work competitions, the chains can be shortened with extra links stored in a handy zip type bag. In the future, should the chains break, some of the links from your bag can be put to use.


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