Is elastic fantastic? The impact of elastic inserts on rein tension

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Sustainable and ethical equitation requires clear signals and timely pressure-release. This study aimed to determine the effect of elastic inserts in reins on the tension applied for normal riding and a walk-to-halt transition, and the ability to release rein tension. Thirty female, regular riders, age 22 ± 3.87 years, participated in this study. The Centaur Rein Tension Gauge™▲ was fixed to a solid structure, and reins with elastic insert (elastic) or standard leather (rigid) were attached. Both measured 20 mm x 6 mm x 1500 mm and weighed 350 g. Rein tensions (N) were measured for left and right hands, both rein types when taking up a normal riding contact and executing a walk-to-halt transition using a cross-over design. Significantly lower tensions were exerted with elastic reins (3.33 ± 1.97N) than with rigid reins (5.83 ± 1.17N; F1,16 = 5.54; P < 0.05) in the normal riding contact condition, whilst higher tensions were evident with elastic reins (21.3 ± 6.19N) than rigid reins (15.8 ± 4.4N) in the walk-to-halt transition. The time (s) for rein tension return to zero following complete release from 25N was significantly greater, and less consistent, with elastic reins (t58 = 5.63; P < 0.001; 3.85 ± 3.22 seconds) than with rigid reins (0.53 ± 0.27 seconds). Although elastic inserts in reins result in less tension during general riding, they may be detrimental to the effective application of negative reinforcement and the ability to accurately reward required responses during training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-43
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


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