Lunging Horse over Jumps with Side Reins?

Hi all! My trainer’s out of town for a week and told me to work on lunging my 5yo OTTB mare (came off the track in December, been in work since January), over jumps while she’s gone. My mare normally gets lunged in side reins (by both myself and my trainer), and she goes in them well. My question is, is it safe to jump my mare on the lunge in side reins? Nothing big, just around 2’. Thanks in advance!

Don’t. The horse needs freedom to use and stretch its neck without being punished in the mouth for it.


No. You may lunge with sidereins over trot cavaletti, but as Manahmanah said, the horse needs her neck to jump. If she gets in awkwardly (and a green OTTB on a 20m circle learning to jump will have unbalanced moments!) she will need freedom of her head and neck to recover.


Thanks for the input! I asked my trainer and she said to leave them on up to 18", but to take them off for anything higher, so that’s what I’ll probably do.

When jumping, even a small fence, the horse is going to get popped in the mouth. A sensitive horse will stop at the next fence. A good natured horse will suck behind the bit and jump with a braced neck. Both aren’t something I’d intentionally want to create.


I’ve been around a long time, and brought some young ones along, & retrained others - but never have I used side reins over fences of any height or seen a horse jump in side reins. As others have mentioned, the horse needs to “stretch” their neck when rounding over a fence, even a small one. Side reins will prevent this. The side reins would be equivalent to a rider hauling on the reins over the fence - which is not a desired jumping technique.

While I think its fine for ground poles or cavaletti that are essentially rotated so the pole is 6" or so off the ground, I’d take the side reins off when the fence requires an actual jumping effort.


I wouldn’t even do it at 18". Anything more than raised poles/ a regular trot step and you’re risking the horse hitting itself in the mouth. And a green horse is more likely to do something goofy like put in a huge effort over a tiny fence. I also wouldn’t introduce poles/ cavaletti to a horse in side reins, I would start without them and get them forward and confident before adding the side reins.


I feel like this is sort of a moot issue beyond cavaletti height…? You can’t lunge a horse with jump standards in the way, so anything you’d be able to jump that doesn’t have standards would be really small. Either way, I agree with what others have said: trotting poles or low cavalettis in side reins is a good exercise, but if your goal is to have the horse canter at jumps, the side reins will inhibit proper form instead of help.

A lot of jumps these days are without standards.

Incredibly dangerous and actually pointless to lunge them over fences in side reins.


I’m happy that we all agree!!


I am going to ask a question back to you.

Why do you think she needs the side reins when being lunged over jumps?


I would not be using a trainer that encouraged jumping in side reins even at 18".

Some horses get sour real fast by being punished in the mouth even a few times. Its just a stupid, pointless idea. There is zero potential benefit or reason for it. Find a new trainer while you are at it.


I agree with finding a new trainer. OP green horses will take an 18" jump like it’s 3’. Also, I am getting the impression by this question (I could be wrong) that you use side reins because your trainer says to rather than for a specific goal.

I lunge my horse over over jumps from time to time. Singles only and only with specific standards. It’s not impossible.


Thanks for the additional input. I’m sorry to hear that you disagree with my trainer, but in the horse world especially it’s very important to know when to agree to disagree :slight_smile: My trainer knows my horse & I have no intention of finding another. I’ll be using side reins until my mare offers to jump a pole/cavaletti. And yes, I am in fact using side reins because my trainer’s told me to. She has years of experience and is an extremley kind & compassionate trainer, especially with young horses. She & I have discussed reasons for using side reins and both mutually agreed they would be beneficial for my horse, which isn’t the case for all horses.

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what happens when your mare gets a funny distance, trips, has an awkward moment…and she cannot use her neck to recover?
She gets hit HARD in the mouth. Or falls, because she can’t use her neck.
if you think she will never have an awkward moment because the jumps are small, you are wrong. so you are choosing to hit your mare in the mouth over a fence, which is not good training.
when you RIDE her over jumps, don’t you release?
EVERY SINGLE person has responded with a “no” to your question.
you are choosing to harm your horse if you longe her over jumps with side reins.


One of the most stupid things you can do with a horse !


So why ask if you are going to do it anyway? No one is saying side reins aren’t beneficial. I use them. I just won’t send my horse over anything above six inches with them on.

ETA: OP the fact that you asked this question to began with leads me to believe you don’t know WHY you are using the side reins beyond your trainers explanation and you are new to them.



Comes for advice.

Gets great advice and amazingly EVERYONE agrees! Probably the first time ever on CoTH!

OP returns, no one knows as well as my trainer, you’re all wrong and I’m going to keep doing it anyways.


OP don’t be surprised when you get no sympathy when you inevitably return with the “my horse is lame” or “my horse is dead” thread.


I thought she was asking coth since her trainer is out of town and just didn’t need people suggesting she change trainers.

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I was also marveling at the fact that everyone said the same thing and that the thread didn’t devolve into a ugly debate over using side reins period. :winkgrin:

OP, if you are determined to use the side reins over actual fences, at least loosen the reins a few holes so your horse can at least stretch their head/neck a bit without it being a constant pull (or jerk) on their mouth… please? I don’t know what type of side reins you are using (elastic, doughnut, plain leather, etc.) and how they are connected (lunging surcingle, girth/saddle), but they should be adjustable.

I get it - the trainer wants the horse to learn collection, balance and/or be in frame before and after the fence. But the solution for that is for you to be ON the horse (still on the lunge is fine) and use your hands (on the normal reins), seat and leg to accomplish this. And, IMO, a much more useful lesson for the horse (and the rider). That’s just this old horse person’s two cents.

I just ask you to think about the reason we “release” while riding a horse over a fence - whether they trot step it or jump it.