A few years ago while in the Netherlands I met Dr. Menke Steenbergen, a young Dutch veterinarian who was developing a company called Centaur Trainology. As a high level dressage rider and coach, she had been exposed to the research of rein tension, especially with dressage horses. Wanting to focus on preventative health care and equine welfare, she and her team had gone through many prototypes and researched what other companies had investigated, as they developed their own version of a rein tension device (RTD). Through the past several years they have worked out kinks, developed software, and improved the technology. Now they are confident to offer highly reliable, light-weight rein tension devices that wirelessly transmit data to a program on the computer. This has proven to be incredibly useful for riders and trainers, coaches and consultants, veterinarians, and researchers.
Olympic dressage riders like Imke Schellekens Bartels have tested out the system, and happily use it with their own training and coaching. She and others want to know what is actually happening in the horse’s mouth as they train and ride. Veterinarians who work on specific regions of the equine body also find this device useful; from back problems to dental care to lameness to bit fitting. More and more practitioners are looking at the horse as a whole, where the mouth connects to the poll, to the back, to the legs, etc. By understanding what is happening at the mouth, it may be possible to reveal the source of other lamenesses and problems.
Dr. Steenbergen and her team of representatives around the world are eager to promote more conscientious training, riding, and competition practices. She has also written a book entitled Horse Signals: Look, Think, Act available in English that investigates equine behavior by looking at hundreds of tiny signals that give you a more solid idea of how your horse is doing and how you can improve working with them.
Written by Callie Rulli, Skylark Animal Bodywork, LLC