How does rider awareness affect asymmetrical rein tension whilst riding?

Zali Clark, Gary McKenzie, Raf Freire, Hayley Randle

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

23 Downloads (Pure)


A comprehensive understanding of horse-human interaction is needed to facilitate good equine training, performance and welfare. Riders are often told that they must ‘feel’ and ‘achieve contact’, yet these goals are rarely objectively quantified resulting in inconsistent use of signals. Asymmetric application of rein tension can result in the horse becoming confused and consequently experiencing reduced welfare. This study aimed to determine the effect of receiving feedback on the symmetry of riders rein use. Fourteen horse-rider dyads were randomly allocated to either Control (n = 7, did not receive feedback regarding symmetry) or Experimental condition (n = 7, received symmetry feedback). All horses were fitted with a Centaur Rein Tension Gauge. Rein tension data (100 Hz) were synchronised with video (50 Hz) using a custom made solenoid and LED device. In Phase 1 all horse-rider dyads trotted (always rising or sitting depending on rider preference) down a centre line in an indoor arena for 16 strides in both directions, ten times, and did not receive any feedback on rein use symmetry. On completing Phase 1, Experimental dyads received feedback regarding the observed symmetry/asymmetry whilst Control dyads did not. All dyads completed another ten centre lines for 16 strides in both directions in trot in Phase 2. On completing Phase 2 all riders reported how they subjectively ‘felt’ regarding their rein tension symmetry. Left and right rein tension data were used to calculate a Laterality Index (LI) as an indicator of symmetry. There were no differences in LI between Control and Experimental groups in Phase 1 (V = 1421; P > 0.05; Control: mean LI = 1.65; Experimental: mean LI = -4.58) indicating equivalent baseline rein symmetry before the experimental phase (Phase 2) commenced. No significant differences were found for the Control group where no symmetry-related feedback was provided between Phase 1 and Phase 2 (V = 1345; P > 0.05; Phase 1: mean LI = 1.65; Phase 2: mean LI =-1.35). Similarly no significant differences were found between Phases 1 and 2 for the Experimental group where riders were provided with symmetry-related feedback prior to commencing Phase 2 (V = 1131; P > 0.05; Phase 1: mean LI = -4.58; Phase 2; mean LI =-3.20). Analysis of objectively LIs indicates that providing riders with feedback regarding their rein tension symmetry has no effect on their subsequently applied rein tension. However, subjectively riders reported that receiving feedback made them more aware of their rein tension symmetries. Understanding rein tension symmetry/asymmetry could lead to improved application of rein aids and ultimately benefit horse welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2018
Event14th International Conference International Society for Equitation Science: Equitation Science 150 years after Caprilli: theory and practice, the full circle - Regiment Lanceri di Montebello, Rome, Italy
Duration: 21 Sept 201824 Sept 2018 (Conference website)


Conference14th International Conference International Society for Equitation Science
Abbreviated titleEquine welfare: good training, good feeding, good housing, good mental state, good health, good behaviour
OtherNOTE - this conference only published abstracts - as per blurb on back of proceedings 'Herein are summaries of presentations of the 14th Equitation Science Conference held in Rome in 2018. Along with synopses of plenary talks and practical demonstrations are abstracts describing recent research within the broad emerging field of Equitation Science.'
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'How does rider awareness affect asymmetrical rein tension whilst riding?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this