Holding Western Romal Reins Correctly

If you ride with Western (romal) reins in Quarter Horse shows, you’ll need to hold them “by the book.” An incorrect hand position can result in points off your score, or even disqualification. Polish your presentation with these tips.

Unacceptable. Here, I’m adjusting the length of my romal reins by pulling them through my left hand with my right hand. You may adjust your rein grip this way in all Quarter Horse classes, except reining and the reined work in working cow horse. However, I’ve also opened the fingers of my left hand–a definite no-no. Instead, loosen the grip of your left hand just enough to slide the reins through while keeping your fingers closed. Once you’ve made the adjustment, tighten your fingers snugly around the reins.

Acceptable. In this photo, I’m doing nearly everything right. I’ve placed my right hand near my thigh, leaving the required 16 inches between it and my left hand. I’ve placed my left hand above my saddle horn, and I’ve closed my fingers. However, I could sharpen my presentation if I closed my left thumb on the reins.

The right way. A winning image! I’ve correctly placed my hands in the “acceptable” position described above, but I’ve closed my left thumb on the reins. In this position, I’m ready to impress the judge in any class.

Leslie Lange trains champion all-around horses, and youth and amateur exhibitors from her T & L Quarter Horses in Greeley, Colo. A judge carded by the American Quarter Horse Association and the National Snaffle Bit Association, Leslie has presided at the AQHA World Show, the All American Quarter Horse Congress, and international shows. Last year, she rode her Quarter Horse gelding, Wrought Iron Blues, to a world championship in junior trail.

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