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Stride-related rein tension in walk and trot

Last changed: 30 March 2020


The use of tack (equipment such as saddles and reins) and especially of bits because of rein tension resulting in pressure in the mouth is questioned because of welfare concerns. We hypothesised that rein tension patterns in walk and trot reflect general gait kinematics, but are also determined by individual horse and rider effects. Six professional riders rode three familiar horses in walk and trot. Horses were equipped with rein tension meters logged by inertial measurement unit technique. Left and right rein tension data were synchronized with the gait.


Stride split data (0–100 %) were analysed using mixed models technique to elucidate the left/right rein and stride percentage interaction, in relation to the exercises performed. In walk, rein tension was highest at hindlimb stance. Rein tension was highest in the suspension phase at trot, and lowest during the stance phase. In rising trot there was a significant difference between the two midstance phases, but not in sitting trot. When turning in trot there was a significant statistical association with the gait pattern with the tension being highest in the inside rein when the horse was on the outer fore-inner hindlimb diagonal.


Substantial between-rider variation was demonstrated in walk and trot and between-horse variation in walk. Biphasic rein tensions patterns during the stride were found mainly in trot.

Link to the article:


Agneta Egenvall, Lars Roepstorff, Marie Eisersiö, Marie Rhodin, René van Weeren. Stride-related rein tension patterns in walk and trot in the ridden horse. Acta Vet Scand. 2016, 57(1):89.