Horse Showing

Reining in the Romal

September 23, 2009

Learn the proper way to use romal reins with AQHA Professional Horseman Jay McLaughlin.

romal reins

Jay demonstrates how to properly hold the romal reins.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Romal reins are an extension of braided material attached to closed reins and can be found in many western events from reining and working cow horse to western pleasure and trail.

AQHA Professional Horseman Jay McLaughlin regularly uses romal reins with his reining and reined cow horses.

“The biggest thing about romals is people pick the wrong ones,” the Gainesville, Texas, trainer said. “I like a soft, pliable romal that is a little smaller. There are a few men out there with ginormous hands, and they prefer the bigger romals. But if you have smaller hands, you should pick a smaller romal.”

Do you want to get more reining tips? Check out or Reining Basics with Craig Johnson DVD and learn all you can about this western event.

Jay also discourages riders from using snaps to attach the romal to the bit.
“I don’t like the snap. Snaps will rattle and send a message up to that mouth. That spade is such an attuned tool that when you jingle with that snap, it will go clear up to the roof of their mouth because the spade is right there. When I see someone doing that, I can’t even look at it. I know what it’s doing to that horse. It’s making him numb-er and numb-er, and you want the horse to be as light as he can be.”

Although Jay makes leather keepers to attach his romal reins to the bit, he said if a rider wants to use snaps, he should attach the reins to a chain and then to a snap.

“That’s fine because the chain takes all the snap’s ring away.”

Riders who are not accustomed to using a romal are sometimes not aware of the penalties awaiting them if they don’t hold it properly.

  • The romal should go across the palm and around the thumb.
  • The hand should be closed into a fist over both reins with no fingers in between, and the thumb must be on top.
  • The rein hand should always be in front of the romal’s knot, where the two reins meet.
  • The free hand must always be to the side (whether left of right), 16 inches from the rein hand. The rein can be adjusted with the free hand in all classes but reining and the dry work of working cow horse.

Get more tips and advice about reining from an AQHA World Champion reining exhibitor with our Reining Basics with Craig Johnson DVD.