Show Jumping Techniques: Rein Release

Showjumping Releasing the Rein Techniques

Correct show jumping techniques for releasing the rein and the different rein releases used …

In show jumping releasing the rein in the correct way is very important as it gives your horse room to jump properly.

Different rein releases are used depending on the circumstances surrounding the showjump. However, all riders should be ready and able to use each of the show jumping techniques as needed and should practice them all.

Types of Rein Release used in Show jumping …

The Most Basic Show Jumping Techniques for Releasing the Rein

The most basic techniques are when the rider simply grabs the mane of the horse. It helps the rider ensure they do not fall back and hit the horse in the mouth, on the back or use the horses’ mouth for balance.

Riders should never think the basic rein release technique is reserved for novices, and all good show jump riders will grab their horse’s mane to save their horse’s mouth.

This technique is used by beginner show jump riders who have not yet developed their position and balance to do more advanced rein releases, without risking hitting their horse in the mouth.

It is also very important for more advanced riders on green horses, who tend to over jump, or when a rider for some reason loses position due to an awkward jump and can’t use more advance show jumping techniques.

However, it does provide the least amount of control and should not be used when it isn’t required.

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The Short Crest Rein Release …

Intermediate releasing the rein. Here the rider slides the hands up the crest as the horse takes off, not before (which will "drop" the horse). The hands should not slide far up the crest, only a couple inches, as needed.

The crest release provides support for the rider’s upper body, while still providing a good amount of control due to the fact that the rider did not release the reins any more than needed.

Best used on verticals, when the rider needs to turn mid-air, or when doing drop down fences.

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The Long Crest Rein Release …

Intermediate releasing the rein. Similar to the short crest release, in that the rider slides the hands up the crest, but the hands are pushed much further along the neck.

The long crest release provides a great deal of freedom, but fairly little control. Best for …

  • very wide oxers, to allow the horse to really stretch across
  • for green horses that may jump large or awkwardly
  • for gymnastic grids
  • and for use on horses that have been hit in the mouth over fences and are reluctant to jump or stretch down over a fence.
Releasing the rein using the crest release is often overused, particularly in the hunter ring, as it is often used by experienced and professional riders on well-trained horses over jumps of relatively modest size.

The rider should be careful not to associate a large movement forward with the hands and elbows to mean a movement forward with the hips. The hip angle should still close backward.

Many riders get into the habit of jumping ahead with the crest rein release and critics say this release is overused and exaggerated by hunter riders.

Proponents say that this shows off a talented hunter by proving the horse needs little assistance from the rider to jump in good form.

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The Automatic Rein Release …

One of the most advanced show jumping techniques for releasing the rein, where the rider maintains a soft elastic steady contact with a straight line from elbow to bit as the horse jumps.

Using the automatic release for releasing the rein, requires perfect balance from the rider to be executed correctly. An unsteady rider will catch the horse in the mouth, and an incorrect automatic release will spoil a horse’s jump and confidence.

This results in a great deal of control and communication between horse and rider, allowing the rider to signal to the horse what to do on landing.

It is also good on horses that need lots of control after landing.

If a rider is able to perform it correctly, it is often best to use this release whenever possible. Very useful in showjumping and eventing, where control is very important.

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Slipping the rein …

Not actually one of the show jumping techniques for rein release, but instead, a very valuable tool that all good riders should have in their armoury.

Slipping the rein is to be used when the rider accidentally gets behind the horses motion, when riding drop fences or fences with a downhill landing, or when the horse gets into trouble over a fence (ie; catches a leg on a cross-country fence).

Slipping the rein allows the rider to release the horse and give him all the freedom he needs, without forcing the rider to do one of the other releases.

However, it does result in extra long reins on landing, so the rider needs to practice gathering and shortening the reins to the correct length quickly

With experience comes feel, and that’s when good show jump riders learn the correct show jumping techniques. Eventually instinctively choosing the correct way of releasing the rein at any particular show jumping obstacle