Science & Equine

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Written by Els Smet

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Comparing rein tension in the dominant and non-dominant hand

Sensory and motor differences are found in the dominant and non-dominant sides in humans which may affect the straightness of the horse, however the horse's balance and straightness is very important to perform well. Therefore, this study aimed at investigating the symmetry of rein tension in right- handed riders as well as the influence of a right-lateralized (RL) and left-lateralized (LL) horse.

Eleven right-handed riders rode a RL and a LL horse, and rein tension was measured continuously using a rein tension meter. Riders were allowed 5 minutes to warm up and then no instructions were given regarding reins. The riders performed three circles of walk, trot and canter and four walk–halt transitions in each direction.

The results show that LL horses were ridden with significantly stronger mean tension in the left rein than in the right. Furthermore, less minimum tension and greater maximum tension (meaning an overall greater range) was found in the left rein of the RL horse and the right rein of the LL horse. Overall, higher tensions were applied to the rein of the horse’s preferred side, irrespective of the direction. It was also found that riders who were familiar with the horse used significantly less rein tension. This shows that rein tensions of both reins are to be influenced the laterality of both horse and rider, and may have important implications for training both horse and rider.

> From: Kuhnke et al., Comparative exercise physiology 7 (2010) 57-63. All rights reserved to Cambridge university press. Click here for the online summary.

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