The tradition of using Romal Reins was started in North America by the Spanish vaqueros in the mid-1700s. Their lives depended on extremely hardy, well trained horses to work the rank range bred cattle of the day. Romals, as they are called, were used on such well trained horses because they only required a very slight movement of the hand for direction. Romal reins are still very popular today including in National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) events, as well as others. Romals are used on horses that have transitioned to a shanked bit or spade bit after being well trained in a hackamore and/or snaffle.
Romal reins have 2 distinct parts: the romal and the reins. These parts are balanced in length and weight and are connected in the middle. The reins are attached to the bit with leather connecting straps, snaps or rein chains. The romal portion has a leather popper on the end which can be used as a quirt.
The non-dominant hand is used to hold the reins. This hand is enclosed completely around the reins, in front of the connecting strap, in a fist. The thumb on this hand always remains up with the reins coming out behind the thumb. The dominant hand is also enclosed in a fist but around the romal portion. There should be at least 16 inches between the hands. The hand that’s holding the romal is used for balance and should be kept close to the hip unless roping, holding the horn or using the popper etc.
In working cow horse events romal reins are used on both 2 rein horses and on bridle horses. A 2 rein horse is a horse that is being transitioned from a hackamore to a bridle and is ridden with both. As the horse is beginning to learn to hold, carry and use the bit correctly, the rider guides the horse with the bosalita and mecate. When the horse is ready the mecate and romal can be used together. Finally, the horse can be ridden successfully in the bridle only. A bridle horse is a very well trained horse that has gone through the transitioning phases from hackamore to 2 rein to bridle. At this point the horse and rider should be working in harmony with only very slight movement on the romal reins for direction.
Dennis Moreland Tack has handmade romal reins made of rawhide, kangaroo, and leather in sizes to fit both small and large hands. Call 817-312-5305 for more information.
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