Training Aids: How Their Fit Could Help or Hinder Longeing Horses

Researchers know that, when used and fit properly, training aids can positively affect horses. However, improperly fitted equipment could squelch any benefits these systems offer.
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horse training aids
Researchers are working to develop concrete roller-fitting recommendations to help horses get the most benefit from training aids. | Photo: iStock

Researchers know that, when used and fit properly, training aids, such as the Pessoa training aid, can be useful in longed horses and have positive effects. However, British researchers have confirmed that pressure from some training aids could prevent horses from improving their movement through these aids.

“Training aids are very useful for a variety of reasons, but the benefits of their use might be diluted when there are other pressures interfering,” said Russell Guire, a PhD candidate at the Royal Veterinary College, in London, and a researcher at Centaur Biomechanics in Warwickshire, both in the U.K. He presented his group’s study at the 2017 British Equine Veterinary Association Congress, held Sept. 13-16, in Liverpool.

In their study, Guire and his fellow researchers tested three training aids’ effects on 10 healthy, sound riding horses’ movement during longing. A single longer worked each horse in both directions, with four repetitions, each time fitted with either a surcingle (also called a training roller in the U.K.) alone or a training roller with a Pessoa system, a continual rope system, or side reins. The scientists equipped the horses with inertial measuring units to determine pelvic range of motion and movement symmetry during the tests

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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