Laufer or sliding side reins are one of the most useful items of L schooling equipment and can be used either in ridden, lunge or driven schooling. They encourage the horse to find his own balance, accept bit pressure and acquire a comfortable profile in all gaits. As the name suggests the contact is a sliding one with the horse’s mouth, there is no forcing of the outline; the horse can alter his profile to comfortably suit the gait. The horse’s profile and level of head carriage changes as the gaits change. If you use a piece of schooling equipment that relies on fixing a position, this can mean that the horse is not as comfortable in all the gaits.
With Laufer reins, the only real resistance is felt when the head carriage is taken very high or the nose is poked too far forward, the horse then feels a strong downward pressure on the bars of the mouth which should encourage him to lower his head and bring his nose back to the vertical. Laufer reins, like all pieces of schooling equipment, rely on the rider or driver maintaining a steady degree of forward movement; it is not enough to put on a device and then let the horse slop around or, alternatively, move too fast and compromise good balance.
TO FIT Laufer reins either fit to the top ring of a lungeing roller or to the top of a driving pad or to the top US of a saddle, then run along each side of the horse’s neck, passing from the inside to the outside of the bit ring. They then go either down between the horse’s front legs, threaded through the girth for a deeper prohle, or along the horse’s side to fasten under the flap of the saddle in the manner of side reins or to the bottom ring of a lungeing roller or just above the girth on a driving pad.
As a general guide, when the horse is standing in a relaxed position at the halt the sliding side reins should be adjusted so that the reins are just taut without drawing the horse’s head in or pulling on the bars of the mouth.