Jockey Harrison Shaw explains the safety rein with the help of three year old gelding Albert's Back
Horses getting upset in the starting stalls and breaking free, sometimes by ducking under the gate, represent a danger for both horse and jockey.
For the past 25 years we have used a safety rein to prevent this from happening. There has never been any problem or incident. However, we do not know how many injuries to horse and jockey that this may have prevented.
The rein is attached to the bit on its bridle at the front, and secured under its tail with a crupper at the rear. In the stalls it is taut so the horse cannot put its head down and go under the gate.
At the front of the saddle there is an extension with a loop in the device secured by velcro. When the starting gate has opened this is released and allows the horse to extend its head and neck and gallop normally.
The Racing Post has commented on the rein - The device is used to educate poorly behaved horses in the stalls, although not all learn the art of the start at home. Some are naturally claustrophobic, while others react very differently on the course than they do at home and as soon as they are enclosed in the stalls their first reaction is to get out of them.
The velcro is in front of the saddle so when the stall opens the jockeys pulls on that, the rein slackens and the horse has full extension when it starts to gallop. It's no worse than keeping a hood on when a horse is standing in the stalls and the jockey removes it when they open. In fact, it's safer because sometimes the hood doesn't come off properly.
I should add here that the rein is not about making horses go faster, it is about safety at the starting gate. That's the whole idea, it doesn't make the horse run any faster, but it just might prevent horse and jockey from serious injury.