Whether auxiliary reins are good for the horse is something that horse owners discuss time and again. Many experts do not think much of auxiliary reins, as they are often used incorrectly – as can be observed regularly in the riding arena. However, if the rider or lunger applies the auxiliary reins correctly, the auxiliary reins not only help the person riding or lunging, but in many cases they also help the horse. This is exactly the point of the gogue, which especially promotes the horse’s posture.
In our guide about the auxiliary rein Gogue you will learn, among other things, its advantages and disadvantages, how to put it on and what to look for when you use it.
Appearance – what parts make up the gogue?
An ordinary gogue is usually composed of the following parts:
a forking strap with
a loop a neck piece one or two ropes with carabiners
The special feature of this auxiliary reins is that it is not only attached to the saddle girth and its rope is pulled through the snaffle rings of the bit, but also acts through a neck piece. The headpiece is a wide leather strap that you attach to the bridle’s neck strap with the help of buckles.
Gogue or Chambon – what is the difference?
The chambon and the gogue are very similar. They differ in the fact that you buckle their ropes differently. While the rope of the Chambon is fixed to the bit ring and ends there, the rope of the Gogue runs through the bit ring and back to the girth starting from the saddle girth. With the Gogue, a triangle becomes visible through the guidance of the rope.
The purpose of both auxiliary reins is to promote forward-downward posture and thus sound movement. While the Chambon may only be used for lunging, if you are an experienced rider, you can also use the guided version of the Gogue when riding. The guided version is explained below.
Buckling the Gogue – how do I put the Gogue auxiliary rein on my horse?
First, attach the forking girth to the center of the girth and pass the girth through your horse’s front legs. Pull the corresponding ropes on each side through the rings of the neck piece and through the bridle rings of the bit and connect the ends (usually with snap hooks) to the girth coming from the saddle girth.
=> You will now see a triangle on both the right and left sides. First buckle the girth attached to the saddle girth long and only shorten it later.
=> The bridge of the horse’s nose should be vertical, while it holds its mouth approximately at the level of the nose joint.
Effect – how does the gogue work on the horse?
The Gogue is an auxiliary reins that works similarly to the better known Chambon. When the horse raises its head, a pressure or pull is created at the nape of the neck and in the mouth, which is released when the horse lowers its neck. With the gogue strapped on, the horse becomes accustomed to carrying its neck lower, as it is more comfortable for the animal that way. In addition, the horse learns to relieve the pressure on the corners of its mouth.
Lunging with the gogue – the independent variant
The more commonly used variation of the gogue is the independent gogue, which is similar to the chambon. It is usually used for lunging a horse. The independent gogue can be recognized by the buckling, where the rope coming from the neck piece is passed through the bit back to the girth starting from the saddle girth. It forms a large triangle next to the head, but is not to be confused with triangle reins. These lack the connection to the neck.
Riding with the gogue – the guided version
There is also the guided gogue, which is used for riding. Here you have additional reins with eyelets. The rope is led with the led Gogue like with the independent one from the central belt over the neck piece and the bit ring. However, in the guided gogue you do not hook the rope back into the girth coming from the girth, but into the eyelets of the reins. It is similar to the Thiedemann reins. Or you hold the ropes as a second pair of reins in your hands. This version is reminiscent of the loop reins.
Purpose – the Gogue as a corrective aid for horses with little muscle strength
The gogue is primarily used for horses that have problems stretching or dropping their neck. They carry their head permanently high and thus easily form an under-neck. The auxiliary rein helps the horse to develop a forward-downward stretch so that it exercises its upper neck muscles and back muscles. Only when these are healthy and a strong topline is apparent, will the horse be able to carry a rider for extended periods of time without problems.
It is important that you as a horse owner understand why your horse tends to carry his head up. Most of the time, lack of muscle strength is the reason. A horse’s head can weigh up to seventy pounds. This weight is carried almost entirely by the upper neck muscles. Extending the neck and lowering the head is therefore more difficult for a horse the weaker its upper neck muscles are. The auxiliary rein trains these muscles by getting the horse used to the stretching movement.
NOTE: Before using the auxiliary rein, you should check to see if weak muscles are responsible for your horse’s poor posture. It is also possible that there is a health problem – such as tightness in the neck or withers. An examination by a veterinarian will clarify why your horse is carrying his head up or curling it in.
Length – how tight should the auxiliary reins be?
When you use the gogue, its length must be correct, otherwise the auxiliary reins will not work properly and may even cause harm to the horse.
=> If you buckle the auxiliary reins too long, they will not affect the horse’s posture.
=> If the auxiliary reins are too short, the horse cannot balance properly because of the firm pressure and may stumble.
The length of the buckle depends on:
Size of neck Gait (buckle longer at walk than at trot and canter).
It is important for all gaits that you give the horse enough room to balance himself with his neck.
The auxiliary reins are correctly buckled when:
The horse carries his neck lower than his withers and stays in front of the vertical. The ropes of the gogue sag slightly. The upper neck muscles should visibly tighten and relax as the horse walks.
Disadvantages – why the auxiliary rein is not only advantageous
The gogue shows its positive effect only if you buckle it correctly. But even if it is correctly applied, the auxiliary rein can have disadvantages:
- Lean against the bit is missing
- Lateral restraint is missing
- Horse curls up to escape pressure and tension
Especially guided variant: Very strong forces act on the sensitive horse’s mouth.
Attention: Gogue reins can be dangerous!
If you use the gogue incorrectly, your horse may fight back violently. If there is a panic reaction, he may tear up the corners of his mouth. Unlike most jacks, the pressure applied to the mouth does not go towards the lower jaw, where there is only bone, but upwards. This is where the horse’s soft mouth angles are, and they can tear quickly. For the horse, this is painful and difficult to bear.
How can I prevent injuries?
You prevent injuries by putting a predetermined breaking point between the girth coming from the saddle girth and the end of the rope. If your horse pulls hard on the reins, the predetermined breaking point will open and the gogue will give way before injury can occur.
What precautions should I take when using the Gogue?
When using the auxiliary rein, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. These include:
You must not put on the gogue until you have warmed up. Be sure to remove the auxiliary reins for cross-country riding. It is best to pad the lungeing girth or the saddle girth so that there are no pressure or friction points.
How often do I put the gogue on my horse?
Like all other riding aids, the auxiliary reins should be used as often as necessary, but also as little as possible. If the horse does not need the auxiliary rein, there is no reason to put it on him anyway.
Conclusion on the use of the Gogue
In summary, the Gogue, like the Chambon, is designed to help the horse develop a healthy posture and better movement. It shows the horse forward-downward extension and builds muscles in the upper neck and back. Thus, it is not so much true auxiliary reins, but more like corrective aids that you should use carefully.
The guided gogue never belongs in the hands of a beginner rider and should have justification. If you want to use the auxiliary rein as an amateur, there should be an expert present who knows the gogue well and can give you advice and support.
Each auxiliary rein has advantages and disadvantages for your horse. Therefore, it is best to find out which one is the best for you and your horse by careful trial and error with the help of an experienced rider or trainer.
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