Biomechanics Research Investigates Horse Riders Fitness

13 February 2017

Related Subject Area:
Horse Management

Equine students and staff welcomed Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs from the University of Central Lancashire, to carry out a research study on physical fitness in relation to horse riders. The investigation, over two days, yielded some interesting results - to be published in due course.

The physiological demands of horse riding are yet to be fully understood. In other sports it is possible to design fitness programmes to improve the athlete's performance. Because the demands of horse riding are not known it is harder to design suitable fitness programmes for riders that will improve performance. This study aims to investigate and understand the different physiological demands placed on horse rider.

Riders were ask asked to perform a laboratory test session at the beginning of the study where they had their height, weight, and body fat percentage recorded. They were then asked to perform a fitness test on a static cycle ergometer wearing a heart rate monitor. The exercise was designed to determine their current sub-maximal fitness levels, so it required a full effort to complete it successfully.

The riders then performed a 45-minute riding session on two different days, exactly one week apart, with an identical riding plan for both sessions. For the sessions all participants were fitted with a heart rate monitor and were videoed to help match the heart rate data with the gaits used. At the end of the session riders were asked; how they felt after the session, what was most demanding about the session and how the horse worked.

Joanna Baxter, Head of Equine Studies at Craven College said: "This is an excellent exercise for students to understand the demands of riding in relation to fitness and to assess how biomechanical testing within athletes is undertaken. Watch this space for further study results!!!"

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