One question I get asked quite often is about reins. So many people have different opinions about how long your reins should be. I am going to tell you what works for me and my students, this is by no means the only way to have your reins when you are running barrels. If you are having issues, send me a picture or video of you running your horse, or seek the help of a trainer in your area. Rein length depends on the rider’s arm and horse’s neck length, so you will have to play with your reins and see what works for you.
Several riders go out and try to run with their reins WAY too long. This causes you to get behind your horse because it takes so much time for you to get your hands in the right place and get a reaction from your horse. Things happen too fast in barrel racing to not be able to get ahold of your horse if you need too. Also, when you ride with your reins too short, you cannot give your horse his head and really let him run.
My rule of thumb when determining the length of my barrel racing reins is when I am sitting on my horse getting ready to run, I want to pick up the reins and take the slack out. The reins should be about an inch or two in front of my saddle horn. If I touch my saddle horn with my reins I want my horse backing.
I only use my reins this short when I am at a barrel race getting ready to make a run. Otherwise I am using roping reins or long split reins.
Hope this helps!