Last Updated on September 27, 2022
Fact checked by: Jesse M Cox
Reins are the piece of tack used by a jockey to direct a horse. They are thin straps of leather which the jockey holds while riding in a race. The reins are attached to the bridle which fits into a horse’s mouth.
When a horse is off the bridle the jockey is applying maximum pressure to cajole a horse into running faster, and when a horse is on the bridle the jockey is not using the reins to encourage the horse. By not moving the bridle via the reins, the jockey is leaving the horse in its comfort zone.
A jockey will be more active with the reins when riding a finish. The whip can also be used as a further piece of tack to encourage the horse.
A horse has been trained to run during a race. Once the stalls open or the tapes go up the natural instinct is for the horse to run. In many cases the jockey is just the rider and the horse is allowed to run naturally. However, jockeys must give commends at certain stages of a race. The jockey encourages a horse to turn, go faster or slower or rein back using the reins.
The betting public are not informed which type of reins have been applied but they are standard and this information will not have an impact on the betting market. Jockeys in the UK generally use closed reins which prevents the rider dropping the reins. When this happens the jockey has less influence of the horse and the finishing position in a race.
When a horse has been backed and the jockey has a problem with the reins there will be criticism. The reins influence how a horse runs and the position in a race and that is vital for backers who have bet on a horse to win a race. Jockeys also have to be careful not to hurt the horse through use of the reins.