Effects of rider awareness on asymmetrical rein tension

M. Scott, Victoria Lewis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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Introduction: Riders communicate with the horse through operant conditioning ((McLean and Christensen, 2017), by applying a rein aid, and executing a timely release upon achieving the desired response. Evidence from previous studies found mean rein tensions measured in Newtons can vary from 7-43N in walk, 11-51N in trot to16-104N in canter (Kuhnke et al, 2010; Egenvall et al., 2015). Failure to apply and release the pressure correctly could compromise equine welfare. When riding a simulator, the rein tension could be influenced with the aid of visual feedback on the screen, as visual data presents pressure exerted and possible lateral asymmetries. The rider’s ability to use correct and acceptable levels of tension, and the timing of the release of the aid is key to rider performance. The aim of this study was to determine whether rein tension, and asymmetry is impacted by visual feedback. With the addition of comparing riders perceived rein tensions and asymmetries to the recorded data.
Materials and Methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit eighteen riders at 18 years of age or older, at level BHSQ Level 2 or above. Data were captured over one minute, with the first 30 seconds of data discarded during analysis, on the equestrian simulator (Racewood), in walk, trot canter. Rein tension was recorded using Racewood integrated rein tension gauge. Each participate rode initially without visual feedback (feedback screen covered) and with visual feedback. All riders completed a VAS score of asymmetry perception after dismounting. Descriptive data of the mean, standard deviation, minimum and maximum values and difference of the values, were analysed to evaluate frequencies and statistically tested for differences. Using a Paired T Test, a One Sample T Test and Shapiro Wilks test of normality.
Results: Results found that despite the change of gait, there was no significant difference between the rein tension asymmetry on the left and right rein with, or without visual feedback (p=0.540). Mean tensions varied with visual feedback (58.84 ± 0.3), (p = 0.97) and non-visual feedback (58.85 ± 0.18), (p = 0.259). When testing for asymmetry between nonvisual and visual feedback, there was no significant difference (p = 0.540) between the symmetry indices recorded. Moreover, despite results being non-significant, there was similarity in the predicted asymmetry from the VAS score to the ridden recordings from each rider.
Discussions and Conclusions: Visual feedback did reduce mean rein tensions applied, compared to without visual feedback. Results are comparable to Kuhnke et al., (2010) and Egenvall et al., (2015). The addition of visual feedback via a screen reduced asymmetry of the left and right contact, producing a more symmetrical ridden performance. The Racewood simulator was beneficial to enhance rider awareness of contact without compromising equine welfare. Development and understanding of rider asymmetry and awareness of tensions will improve the welfare of the horse, and increase performance of the horse and rider. Further research could progress into the effects of visual feedback on a live horse using equipment such as the Centaur Rein Guage, enabling real time feedback.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2024
Event13th Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference - Hartpury University, Gloucester, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 May 20248 May 2024


Conference13th Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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