• VOLUME 61 • © HORSES For LIFE™ Magazine
Research: Horses Want Less/More Rein Tension
Sometimes it seems silly that we need to do research on what should be somewhat obvious. But today we tend to insist that there has to be a paper to quote to prove what we already knew.
This paper was presented orally at ISES Sweden 2010 - 6th International Equitation Science Conference (http://www.equitationscience.com/Sweden2010.html). This conference at Uppsala, Sweden emphasis was on Horse welfare and human safety: the importance of learning, training and education.
“Training and education of horses and riders, from a scientific as well as from a practical perspective were discussed during the conference hosted by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and the Swedish National Equestrian Centre Strömsholm. Nearly 200 equine scientists, veterinarians, trainers, teachers and students from 16 European countries and the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand participated.”
One study addressed the question on whether we can we test to discover if horses prefer to have less/more tension of the reins. After all the more the reins are used shouldn’t they just get more used to it?
There is a school of thought that it is necessary to press the horse against the bit. Support of the hands is thought to be paramount to the training process.
There are also those that insist that the young horse needs to lean against the rider’s hands for support, that they are unable to balance themselves otherwise.
Study: Horses Prefer Less Rein Tension
by: Christa Lesté-Lasserre
November 08 2010, Article # 17218
Researchers from Denmark, France and the Ukraine tested 15 two-year-old Warmblood fillies. They chose two year old horses so that they could test horses that had never before had bits in their mouths. Using a snaffle bit attached to a surcingle, they were able to accurately set the reins at various lengths.
“This motivation to avoid tension is, of course, what we make use of during training,” said Janne Winther Christensen, PhD, a research scientist at the faculty of agricultural sciences at Aarhus University in Tjele, Denmark, and primary author of the study.
By using young horses, the researchers were able to see how the horse reacts naturally to rein pressure before having the effects of multiple riders and trainers. By fitting them with snaffle bits with reins attached to a surcingle (a strap that fastens around a horse’s girth area) at various set lengths, they were able to test the horses’ willingness to stretch their heads beyond a gate to reach a bucket of oats and molasses. While they expected the fillies to refuse the rein tension the first day of the study and then gradually increase their tolerance over the following days, they were
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