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Your favorite trail reins

I’ve tried rope reins: way too big for my tiny-fingered hands. I also have some soft flat woven synthetic reins that I hate because they have no weight to them. Rubber-dotted dressage reins I have to wear gloves with, or they sore my hands. I don’t like wearing gloves.

Presently I am using laced leather hunter reins, which I like for the weight and the grip, but they are not easy to clean.

So what reins do you favor for trail and competitive riding? My local trails are steep, rocky, muddy, and full of excitements like downed trees and washed-out culverts, usually encountered around a blind corner at a spanking trot. I need very good reins.

Have I mentioned my tiny fingers? Like a midget.

Advice, lay it on me.

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I have tiny hands too, and a Morgan with a short neck. I just like plain old, no name web reins.
They don’t seem to be affected by sweat or getting dunked into water tanks (my mare likes to submerge most of her face into the tank :upside_down_face:). I don’t like to ride with gloves either and they don’t chafe my hands or slip around, even when I’m sweaty. Not sure if this is what you were referring to when you said you didn’t like the “rubber dotted” reins, but the rubber on these is spaced fairly far apart and it doesn’t impact my hands.

There’s probably nicer quality in a similar style out there, but these have done the job over a lot of miles for me.

well, the price is right! Might try them.

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I love reins like this:

We have some from Taylored Tack (called the Chica grip reins) and some from other tack makers in a similar style. I like that they don’t loop around my saddle bags or my stirrups yet I don’t have to lay on the neck to give the horse enough rein to drink or eat. I love beta as it feels like leather but is much easier to take care of (and comes in fun colors). The grip part can be pebbled or smooth. We have both types and I prefer the smooth, but have not had issues with rubs from the nubby ones like regular rubber reins.


Biothane reins with gripping backs are the easiest to clean. come in dozens of colors, and are grippy as all heck.

These ones are on sale for $22:


I have these on most of my horses Distance Depot Beta Grip Reins

They also come in a non-grip version that is also less expensive

I also have a pair of Collegiate Syntovia + reins that I really like

I use the hunter laced leather reins, but remove the lacing, which leaves a line of little holes down the middle of the reins, so they’re not smooth. Plenty grippy, for me, anyway, and easy to clean.

I’ve also liked web reins.

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well that’s clever.

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Well, the laced reins came with the bridle but hurt my hands, so I just removed the things that hurt me. I have to admit, I haven’t seen anyone else do this in hunter land or trail.

I used to ride with yacht rope reins with clips but new pony didn’t like either the clips or the weight so I switched to these:


Super thin and soft. I run a damp cloth over them from time to time just to keep the sweat gunk from building up but since the stop ridges are internal they’re pretty easy to keep clean (which is my usual complaint when it comes to leather reins, as opposed to synthetic). The only con is that you might find them too light.

I like those Kavalcades. But I am pretty abusive to my tack, I must admit – those reins will be tied to a tree, dragged through mud, and who knows what. Synthetic seems to take abuse better. Right now it’s so wet and muggy that the first thing I do when I get back to the barn is strip off everything and throw it in a bucket of water to get the mud and sweat off.

Except the saddle, which is leather and expensive.

I just ordered a pair of beta reins with grip from Distance Depot, we’ll see …

the search for the perfect set of tack is eternal.

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Haha, I feel this profoundly. Everything else I own (besides saddle) is biothane and gets blasted off with the hose when it gets cruddy. If I could find a pair of beta reins with buckle ends, since Miss Priss Pony apparently hates metal clips on the bit rings, I’d have synthetic reins too!

Mandy of Taylored Tack makes multiple kinds with buckle ends. I also have a pair from Millie of Turner Tack with buckle ends. I know both of these ladies personally and they use the tack they sell as well as sell it.

Good to know! On my list for the next time I go shopping!

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Reins are so funny/individual.
I have the 12’ Zilco trail reins. I love them because they are loooooooooong. No problem grazing a horse in them or drinking. I’ve come off a horse with them twice and landed on my butt with the reins still in my hand lol.
They are a PITA because the woven part is too long. I’d prefer the Zilco material to be longer.

At this point I feel like I want a rein that is custom made to my exact specifications! None seem exactly right when you spend hours in the saddle…the closest I’ve come was some leather dog leash I repurposed as reins. It was a service dog leash and it had some rings that were strangely useful. But it had snaps on both ends, was smooth, but hefty leather, and just had the right weight and balance in my hand. Not near long enough though. More like barrel reins.

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@LSMarnell I think I would have myself hog-tied by the end of a training ride if I used 12’ reins! :rofl:

When you are ready for new reins, there are many makers who do custom tack - then you can hopefully get exactly what you want.

I have a 14.2H Arab and he has a long, giraffe-like neck. I don’t really feel like they are too long. The extra length has really come in handy. But, the woven part gets stuck in the velcro of my pommel bags which is annoying. And they pick up stickers/burrs/seeds like crazy, get snagged in bushes, and just generally are not a great material for “trail reins.”

I think what I want is some kind of leather/synthetic hybrid. Synthetic from the bit side stitched to a length of leather where they’re held.

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@LSMarnell I think I have a pair of those same ones and I ended up putting a bunch of knots in them because I kept tangling them in everything lol :joy:

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I am a dressage rider who does a lot of hacking out. I just wanted to make a humble suggestion that you accustom yourself to wearing gloves. I started wearing them 30 years ago and it was a little weird getting used to them but now I never ride without them. In warm weather I use the SSG crochet-back gloves which are amazingly breathable and light, and the leather palm protects your hands…and then you can use any reins you want.

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I can’t imagine anything worse than a 6-7 hour ride in gloves in the summer. No thank you. Arena work or short hacks sure, but real trail/distance riding? Not practical.