Have you ever used the Don Dodge Cross? Have you ever heard of it? Today we’re visiting with horseman, trainer, judge and Chairman of the NRCHA Judge’s Committee Sam Rose at Carol Rose Quarter Horses in Gainesville, TX. Sam is showing us a method to hold the reins called the Don Dodge cross. Don Dodge perfected a simple and safe way to hold snaffle bit reins. It’s also referred to as the Don Dodge shift. This is so named because of the motion of shifting the cross from one hand to the other when you change your direction of travel.
Don Dodge was an avid horseman who was at the cornerstone of horse training and showing as we know it today. He consistently trained and showed cutters, cow horses, jumpers and others. He was an AQHA judge for 23 years and also a judge for the NCHA and American Horse Shows Association. He was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 1997, the NRCHA Hall of Fame in 1998 and the NCHA Member and Rider Halls of Fame in 1988 and 1989 respectively. He trained and showed many great horses.
Although we hope it never happens, with the Don Dodge Cross, when a colt or horse gets his head away from you (bucking, falling, running off etc.) you will still have at least 1 rein in your hands. This is critical in these situations because you need to be able to turn the colt, or double the colt, to get the back end disengaged and the head up so you maintain control of your horse.
Follow along on the video as Sam Rose explains how to ride with the Don Dodge Cross:
- Hold both reins in your hands at the approximate length you want to ride with. Be sure to keep them at a length that you will have control as you manipulate the reins.
- Start by opening the hand opposite of the direction you plan to turn. For instance, if you’re going to practice turning your colt to the right, open your left hand.
- With your palm facing inward and your hand open, lay the left rein behind your pinkie finger, over your next 3 fingers and behind your thumb.
- Lay the right rein across the left palm and close your fingers around both reins.
- Use your right hand to grasp the right rein leaving enough space between your hands that you can move each hand independently of the other.
- Swing both rein tails to the left side of the horse.
- To go to the left simply shift the hold to the other hand.
Sam says be sure to practice off your horse before using the Don Dodge cross mounted. He says it’s easy to learn and get proficient with this method and before long it will become a natural way to hold your reins. To practice, lace a pair of reins together, and place them under your foot as you’re sitting in a chair. Keep the reins the correct length for riding. Practice shifting the hold from 1 hand to the other until it becomes 2nd nature.
The Don Dodge Cross is legal in snaffle bit classes in NRCHA shows. In AQHA shows when using a snaffle you must bridge your reins. Refer to my 4-5-18 tack tip titled “Holding Snaffle Bit Reins Correctly” to learn how to bridge your reins.
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