IN June, we spotted these reins used by junior show jumper Miki Simpson. But what are they, and how do they differ from the normal variety?

What are they?

THE reins are called the Mailer bridging reins and were designed by trainer Carol Mailer to stop the common problem of reins slipping through the rider’s fingers. Each rein has a series of leather loops, through which can be threaded a short “bridging strap” that then encourages the rider to keep a constant contact.

Even when Miki is using the reins without the bridging strap, she still finds them helpful.

“The ‘notches’ are enough to give Miki extra grip,” explains Sue Earnshaw, Miki’s trainer.

“Miki’s pony, GEC Delight, can be quite strong and head-high on the approach to a fence. Miki had a habit of letting her reins slip, and this extra grip keeps the pony more secure in the hand.”

“However effective the bridging rein is, sometimes you might want to use conventional reins,” says Carol Mailer. “In which case, just undo the strap and remove it, and you are left with a standard pair of reins.”

How do they work?

“THE bridging rein solves the problems of slipping and loopy reins by providing a smart and acceptable non-slip alternative to a knot,” says Carol Mailer. “If your horse gets too keen or strong, the bridge will not allow the reins to be pulled right through your hands, so you’ll be able to maintain a consistent contact.”

Can I use them in competition?

THE BSJA says the reins do not contravene current rules, and British Eventing rules do not forbid them either. Charlotte Bathe, eventing team gold medallist, says the reins “are great for schooling young, lively event horses.”

The reins are not forbidden under the rules of showing and working hunter classes, but British Dressage rules do not allow them to be used.

Who else uses them?

AS well as being used by competition riders and trainers, the reins have also been spotted on the hunting field.

Viscount Cranley, who hunts with the Fernie, says: “The reins have solved a lifetime problem and allow me to cross the country in a safer manner.”

Vet Sue Dyson uses the reins on some Animal Health Trust horses, and they have also been found useful by the Fenland Riding for the Disabled Group.

How do I buy a pair?

THE reins cost £40 a pair. Contact (tel: 01480 465155) www.mailerbridgingrein.co.uk

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (2 November, ’06)