|This study investigated the horse’s contribution to tension in the reins. The experimental hypotheses were that tension in side reins (1) increases biphasically in each trot stride, (2) changes inversely with rein length, and (3) changes with elasticity of the reins. Eight riding horses trotted in hand at consistent speed in a straight line wearing a bit and bridle and three types of side reins (inelastic, stiff elastic, compliant elastic) were evaluated in random order at long, neutral, and short lengths. Strain gauge transducers (240 Hz) measured minimal, maximal and mean rein tension, rate of loading and impulse. The effects of rein type and length were evaluated using ANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc tests. Rein tension oscillated in a regular pattern with a peak during each diagonal stance phase. Within each rein type, minimal, maximal and mean tensions were higher with shorter reins. At neutral or short lengths, minimal tension increased and maximal tension decreased with elasticity of the reins. Short, inelastic reins had the highest maximal tension and rate of loading. Since the tension variables respond differently to rein elasticity at different lengths, it is recommended that a set of variables representing different aspects of rein tension should be reported.