Science & Equine

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Written by Marly Coppens

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Effects on rein tension on horses ridden with martingales

Around instructors the ideas about the use of martingales or elastic rein inserts are divers, although they might reduce discomfort to the horse by inexperienced riders. In contrast to the hypothesis no significant difference was found between conflict behavior and the use of plain reins, martingales or rein inserts. Nevertheless horses ridden in martingales had more desirable head-relative-to-withers scores compared to horses ridden with plain reins or rein inserts.

High head and neck position is associated with extension of the thoracic region, reduced gait symmetry and increase of peak forces in the limbs. Secundary lumbar motion gets restricted in direction of flexion and extension, which reduces hindlimb protraction.

This study tested nine novice riders and four horses under three conditions in two directions, in total 216 riding events were analyzed. Rein tension was assessed by strain-gauge transducers and behavioral data was analyzed via an ethogram. The ethogram includes for example; ear position scores, head-relative-to-withers scores and two measurements for rider’s ability.

The outcome for rein tension in martingales was higher than for rein inserts or controls, however in these novice riders never as ‘high’. A more-skilled rider level was associated with a lower head-to-withers scores. In conclusion, carefully fitted martingales may have a place in riding schools to optimise equine welfare.

> C.R. Heleski et al. / The Veterinary Journal 181 (2009) 56–62. All rights reserved to 2009 Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the Pubmed summary

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