What if you get tangled up or confused when you add a second long rein? What if the horse panics when it gets wedged under his tail? Wrecks like this can be very common in the beginning, but you can safely diffuse the situation if you remember to drop that outside rein like it’s a hot potato.
Although it may seem contradictory, dropping your outside long rein is often the fastest way to get a horse contained. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember because our instinctive reaction is usually to grip harder on the reins. This can really get you hurt if the horse jerks you off your feet or you get tangled up. However, by dropping one long rein—or both reins—even if your horse completely gets away and runs off to a far corner of the pen, you can always gather him back up and start over.
It’s actually amazing how often the horse will just stop by himself when you drop your long reins. It’s because the pressure is gone and you aren’t pulling on the reins, aggravating the situation.
This is where desensitizing exercises early in the long-reining process will help you. You will get a sense how your horse reacts to stressful scenarios, like ropes being around his legs or slapping his sides. If he’s kicking out at the rope and being very offended during desensitization, you are probably not ready to move on to long-reining.
In Long-Reining with Double Dan Horsemanship, authors Dan James and Dan Steers show every horse owner the basic steps to an infinitely useable training skill: long-reining.