Review: the rein battle

Review Wednesday is here again! If I keep this up nearly every week I think I’ll run out of things to review haha. But today’s feature is of reins – this is more a brand/leather quality than rubber vs laced vs webbed (I do want to try the webbed reins sometime) but there is a bit of that. The rein battle is Smartpak laced vs Ovation laced vs Thinline reins.

The Smartpak laced reins I had first – they came with a Smartpak Harwich fancy stitched hunter bridle that is now discontinued. The reins were extra long (~62″), which is why I bought them in the first place. They were raised and had fancy stitching as well.

I didn’t like the rein quality as I did the bridle. The leather laces were very stiff, and even though I cleaned and then oiled them a few times, they just wouldn’t soften. I used them a few times, cleaned them again and then applied Passier Lederbalsam, and they softened a little but not much. They probably would have continued to get softer with use, but I really didn’t like the way the felt in my hands.

The Ovation reins that came with the Ovation breed specific QH bridle was another reason I bought the set – the reins have a very long length of 64″. But that was the purpose of being long – the level, long outline of a QH HUS class would need the long reins. And Amber definitely does need the long reins for when we do HUS.

Look black here but they’re a very dark havana

This leather broke in much easier. I oiled them first, used them a few times, cleaned and oiled again, and got them nice and sweaty. The laces are softer on this pair of reins, and overall I think the leather on the Ovation reins is better. These I still have, and will be using for as long as I show hunter classes. I’m very hesitant to get rid of them because I have yet to find a pair of reins that are this long. Technically now that we’ve been doing a little more dressage work, 60″ inch reins work okay, but I’m still closer to the buckle on them than I’d like to be. Also, I love the color, length, and they’re good, sturdy leather, so I’m still keeping these for the time being.

The Thinline reins are the winners of the three for me. I have been in love with these from the first moment I held them. I had a coupon, the reins were also on sale, so I grabbed them. I would have preferred the English leather, but due to the sale those were taken, so I got the Indian leather. I haven’t been disappointed with the quality of the Indian leather – it’s held up really well so far with all of Amber’s sweat and the dirt, but the length of the reins that hit her neck are mostly the synthetic material.

You can get the reins with leather hand stops or without. These get pretty sweaty, but again, they clean up well. Thinline material encases the reins, and I have to say they’re the softest, squishiest, and most comfortable reins I’ve ever held. They’re 3/4″ thick, and while that may put some people off, I really can’t tell that they’re that thick. The reins come with martingale stops, but I’ve cut those off since Amber won’t need them, and if she does I’ll just grab the lovely snap ones from PS of Sweden.

Most of the time I ride without gloves, so rein feel is a little different for me. But the biggest reason I really do like these is how squishy they are. Amber is really quite sensitive, and I love how I can make the smallest adjustments, the smallest squeeze with my fingers and these reins translate my message to her beautifully. Also, as you can see my hands aren’t very big. That was one of the reasons I couldn’t play piano very well – my fingers were too short. But I don’t even notice that these reins are thicker, and my hands have never once hurt while I was using them.

The longest length for these is 60″. I really wish they came longer. These so far are my favorite pair of reins. However, Amber doesn’t really pull. She’s very soft in her face and the most I need to really grip reins is if she’s bracing a bit. Which compared to most horses is not bracing at all. So far steering in bending lines hasn’t been an issue with grip on these reins. They’re not like the grip of rubber reins, but I think they still have good grip to them. The hand stops help with that grip.

So, for me, the order of first to last is:

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