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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Guidelines for the Measurement of Rein Tension in Equestrian Sport

Clayton, Hilary; MacKechnie-Guire, Russell; Bystrom, Anna; Le Jeune, Sarah; Egenvall, Agneta


Simple Summary: The reins are used to control speed and direction of the horse's movement through the application of tension by the rider. When the rider holds the reins with a constant light contact, the mechanics of each gait is associated with a cyclic pattern of head and neck movements that is revealed in rein tension oscillations that have a typical shape and repetition frequency in each gait. The effects of the rider's aids, rider imbalance and extraneous movements of the horse's head and neck are superimposed on the basic patterns of the gaits. Rein tension is of interest to scientists and horsemen alike. Tension is relatively easy to measure but the equipment, analytic techniques and reporting of rein tension vary greatly. This paper makes recommendations to guide the selection of suitable equipment and appropriate methods for the collection, analysis and reporting of rein tension data. The goals are to describe correct procedures and common pitfalls in the collection, analysis and reporting of rein tension data that will facilitate comparisons between different studies.Rein tension is relatively easy to measure, and the resulting data are useful for evaluating the interaction between horse and rider. To date, there have been a number of studies using different transducers, calibration methods and analytical techniques. The purpose of this paper is to make recommendations regarding the collection, analysis and reporting of rein tension data. The goal is to assist users in selecting appropriate equipment, choosing verified methods of calibration, data collection and analysis, and reporting their results consistently to facilitate comparisons between different studies. Sensors should have a suitable range and resolution together with a fast enough dynamic response, according to the gait, speed and type of riding for which they will be used. An appropriate calibration procedure is necessary before each recording session. A recording frequency of 50 Hz is adequate for most rein tension studies. The data may be analyzed using time-series methods or by extracting and analyzing discrete variables chosen in accordance with the study objectives. Consistent reporting facilitates comparisons between studies.


rein sensor; horse; rider; calibration; analysis; magnitude; peak

Published in

2021, volume: 11, number: 10, article number: 2875
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Clayton, Hilary
Michigan State University
MacKechnie-Guire, Russell
Centaur Biomechanics
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)
Le Jeune, Sarah
University of California Davis
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences

UKÄ Subject classification

Medical Bioscience

Publication Identifiers


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