What is Synchronicity?
Synchronicity reins measure the strength of your contact in each rein 100 times a second. Collecting this rein tension data enables an in-depth analysis of the rein contact which exists between your hand and your horse’s mouth in different gaits during exercises. Synchronicity assesses a combination’s ability to maintain a high-quality communication channel through the rein.
Why is Rein Contact So Important?
Horse and rider connection is crucial and the contact influences the horse’s way of going in many ways:
Rhythm and regularity of the paces
The rein contact varies with different phases of the horse’s stride – a regular stride pattern results in a regular contact pattern.
Balance and self-carriage
If the horse can maintain his balance and carry himself consistently, the contact will be more consistent – loss of balance, whether it is dropping onto the forehand during a transition or relying on the rider’s hand for balance through a turn, affects the line of communication between horse and rider and this alters the patterns in the contact.
Suppleness and Straightness
If the horse more reliant on one rein for balance, or is stiffer in one direction, this will have an influence on the contact patterns, even before the rider starts to make corrections!
Acceptance of the contact
Resistance to the bridle will also disrupt contact consistency, whether the horse fixes against the rider, snatches, leans or ducks behind the contact.
Aspects of rider technique which feed into the contact include:-
Balance and security
Reliance on the hands for balance or instability and excess movement in the rider’s position compromises the rider’s ability to maintain a consistent contact.
One-sidedness can have a big influence on the nature of the contact – do you know what an identical contact in both reins feels like? Asymmetry in body position can also have a significant impact.
Independence of the hands
Soft, independent hands which can follow the movement of the horse’s head through the different phases of each stride will enable the maintenance of a more consistent connection between the rider’s hand and the horse’s mouth.
Refinement of the aids
Subtle aids, to which the horse responds willingly without the need for repetition, will result in smaller variations in the contact patterns
Riders are often tempted to rely on the hand to correct way of going issues – this will result in an inconsistent contact and in some cases, may just result in trading one problem for another!
The pattern of the horse’s stride is reflected in the patterns of rein tension. If a regular rhythm is established, contact patterns will be consistent. The system is also able to consider whether the tempo lies within a reasonable range for the gait. Where the horse hurries, drops behind the leg or loses balance, the rhythm score will drop.
Loss of rider position, a fixed, restrictive hand or excessive adjustments will also disrupt the rhythm in the reins.
Our goal is an attentive horse which responds to subtle aids and can sustain a consistent way of going in self-carriage without over reliance on the rider. Where this is achieved, and the rider moves as one with the horse, variations in the contact weight will lie within a narrow range, giving a good consistency score. Where communication requires stronger intervention, this score will drop.
There is a range of acceptable levels of rein contact. However, it is possible to have too strong a contact on the horse’s mouth, or at the other end of the scale an absence of any meaningful connection. Excessive use of the hand to force an outline or exercise is an unsustainable method of training, and will lower your score for contact strength. In extreme cases, very high rein tension will result in a zero score. A horse which leans on the hand or sets against the rein will also lower the contact score.
At the other end of the scale, it is also problematic for there to be a complete lack of rein contact, whether this is a result of the horse going behind the bit and refusing to take the contact forward or the rider not providing the horse with a clear line of communication.
When aiming for suppleness and straightness in our horses, we are seeking to minimise one-sidedness and reach a situation where both horse and rider are symmetrical and able to maintain a balanced, correct picture through a variety of exercises in both directions. One measure of this is the left-right balance in our rein contact. If we ride a symmetrical pattern, such as a complete figure of eight, in an ideal world we would have the same average contact weight in our left and right reins.
The balance in our contact is a separate score with Synchronicity: if you are riding an asymmetric pattern, you would not expect your contact to be identical in each hand (though if you ride two patterns which are a mirror image of each other, your contact should also be a mirror image!) but this figure is a useful check. Are you always heavier in one hand regardless of the exercise? Very few of us are naturally ambidextrous! We cannot expect our horses to be straight if we are not straight ourselves.