The role of biomechanical analysis of horse and rider in equitation science

Clayton, Hilary M. and Hobbs, Sarah Jane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1552-8647 (2017) The role of biomechanical analysis of horse and rider in equitation science. Applied Animal Behaviour Science . ISSN 01681591

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Equestrian sports are unique in that they involve the participation of two athletes that differ greatly in morphology yet are able to move together harmoniously; experienced riders not only move in phase with the horse, they can even improve the consistency of the horse’s movements. The motion of the horse imposes perturbations on the rider that differ in magnitude and direction according to gait. In faster gaits where suspension phases are present, the rider must accommodate greater vertical and horizontal accelerations of the horse’s trunk through three-dimensional movements of their axial body segments. The rider, in turn, can improve the horse’s performance through correct training, or cause it to deteriorate through faults in the rider’s position or incorrect application of the aids. This review addresses the current state of knowledge of the biomechanics of the horse-rider interaction, with reference to the ways in which the emerging field of equitation science can help to improve equine welfare by enhancing rider awareness of horse behaviour and movement, as well as the impact of the rider on the horse.

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