Review on biomechanical interaction between horse and rider

P. de Cocq, P.R. van Weeren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract

Abstract

The aim of this review is to provide an overview of possibilities to study the biomechanics of the interaction between horse and rider and the outcomes so far. To control speed and direction of a horse, several interfaces between horse and rider can be employed. Ridden horses are normally equipped with a bridle and a saddle, which serve as the main transmitters of signals from the rider. The tack often is connected to both horse and rider and therefore is suitable to incorporate measuring devices. The most commonly used tools in this respect are strain gauges. Strain gauges can be used to assess forces on bits, reins, and stirrups. Furthermore, flat normal force sensors are incorporated in pads which can be placed underneath the saddle, underneath blankets or even between the horse and the rider’s legs. The instrumented tack can not only be used to study the effect of tack itself, but can also be used to study the interaction between rider and horse. Research on the effect of the bridle has initially focused on the bit. As a large part of the bit is hidden from view, fluoroscopic techniques have been used to evaluate the position and action of several bits. A next step was to objectify the force that riders apply to the reins. In several studies force sensors have been attached in-between bit and reins to measure rein forces. The research using saddle measuring devices has primarily focused on the effects of saddle pads and saddle fit, but the technique, in combination with kinematic measurements, can also be used to evaluate the biomechanical interaction between horse and rider. Riders have a direct and indirect biomechanical effect on the horse through their body mass and through the aids with which they actively try to influence locomotion. The main mechanical effect of riders on the horse is the gravitational force elicited by their mass. The distribution of this weight on the horse is also an important factor. The effect of the rider on the horse is further modulated by the riding technique of the rider and, associated with this, the level of riding. All these aspects are topics of studies on the biomechanical interaction between horse and rider. The studies performed on the biomechanical interaction between horse and rider have yielded interesting results, partly confirming, partly negating long-held equestrian beliefs. The outcomes of this type of research may further our understanding of the impact of a variety of equestrian practices on equine welfare and help in the discussions on ethics and associated regulatory affairs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th International Equitation Science Conference (ISES) on Equitation Science: principles and practices - science at work, Hooge Mierde, The Netherlands, 27-29 October 2011
EditorsM. van Dierendonck, P. de Cocq, K. Visser
Pages49-49
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event7th International Equitation Science Conference (ISES) on Equitation Science: pronciples and practices - science at work, Hooge Mierde, The Netherlands -
Duration: 27 Oct 201129 Oct 2011

Conference

Conference7th International Equitation Science Conference (ISES) on Equitation Science: pronciples and practices - science at work, Hooge Mierde, The Netherlands
Period27/10/1129/10/11

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