In dressage, the performance of transitions between gaits and halts is an integral part of riding sessions. The study aimed to evaluate rein tension before, during and after the transitions between different gaits and the transitions into halts. The kinematic (inertial measurement units) data for the head and croup, and rein tension data, were collected (128 Hz) from six professional riders each riding three of their own horses, training levels varying from basic to advanced, during normal training sessions. The activities were categorised into gaits, halts and transitions based on video evaluation. The transitions were categorised as without (type 1) or with (type 2) intermediate steps that are not normally present in the gaits preceding or following the transition. The differences in the median rein tension before/during/after transitions, between the types and left/right reins were analysed in mixed models. The rein tension just before the transition was the strongest determinant of tension during the transition. The rein tension was slightly lower during upward transitions compared to downward transitions, reflecting the pattern of the preceding gait. Type 1 and 2 downward transitions were not different regarding rein tension. The left rein tension was lower than right rein tension. The rein tension associated with the transitions and halts varied substantially between riders and horses. The generally strong association of the gaits and their inherent biomechanics with rein tension should be taken into account when riding transitions and halts.
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