AMRC Cymru tests revolutionary new safety rein

23 May 2022

Engineers at AMRC Cymru have helped to develop and test a revolutionary new rein for horse riders, that could drastically improve safety in equestrian sport.

Free Reins’ quick-release connector is the only rein on the market designed to unclip automatically when sufficient force is applied, allowing the reins to come apart - releasing horse or rider and preventing them becoming dangerously entangled. Once the connector, which replaces the traditional rein buckle, has activated and the risk to horse and rider has been avoided, the reins can simply be reassembled and are safe to ride in again.

"There is no doubt in my mind there is a need for Free Reins,” said Free Reins founder, Laurie Williams. “It was on observing a fall where a child became caught in their reins that I came up with the concept and so started three years of development.

“I’m so delighted with the product. It is really important to me to make riding as safe as possible for both the rider and the horse without compromising on style, the Free Reins connector is helping make riding safer, and adding a little style.”

The Free Reins safety system has been subject to extensive testing at AMRC Cymru, part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s network of cutting-edge research and development facilities. AMRC engineers tested the safety product using mechanical testing apparatus at its state-of-the-art facility in Broughton.

Dr James Allum, senior manufacturing research engineer at AMRC Cymru, said: “Through a combination of product development, design for manufacture and testing expertise at AMRC Cymru, we were able to support Free Reins through development of bespoke benchmarking and testing methodologies to inform product development.

“Working alongside our manufacturing partners, this enabled us to develop an innovative clip design which could be fine-tuned to adjust the mechanical performance to accommodate specific riding needs. It's been a privilege to be involved in the development of a device which supports a local company with ambitions to improve horse riding safety.”

Equine scientist, Dr David Marlin, said: “Safety is incredibly important when it comes to being around or riding horses. Some things happen rarely but may take less than a second for something to go badly wrong. A horse or rider getting caught in its reins is one of those events. We support innovation and science-backed products and this appears to be a well designed product that we hope will decrease injury risk for both horses and riders.”

Mark McCourt GB, one of only two Elite show jumping coaches in the UK, added: “This innovation will solve safety issues for both horse and rider - safety is paramount. Over the years I've seen a lot of accidents of riders falling off, they keep hold of the reins or pull off the bridle.

“It's really important that we have safety devices, like Free Reins, which will help protect the riders and prevent accidents. Free Reins is a great product for every level of horse rider, especially for those who hack and are young or inexperienced.”

Get in touch with the AMRC Cymru team here to find out how they can improve your manufacturing processes.

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