Science & Equine

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Written by Marly Coppens

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Influence of the rider on the equine gait

Less is known about what the existence of a rider means to motion pattern variability of the horse. This is important because symptoms become clear only when the horse is ridden.This study shows that the motion pattern of a well-ridden horse varies less than the motion pattern of an unridden horse.

Like many complex biological systems, the coupled horserider system can be more or less coordinated, an experience commonly described by equestrians, who will feel harmony with a horse varies depending on both participating individuals.  

Twenty-one horses were recorded on a treadmill with two markers, one attached to the dorsal spinous processus of lumbar vertebra L4, the other to the right fore hoof. The horses were measured in trot, ridden and unridden, with a fitting and with a non-fitting saddle. 

Two of six variables (velocity and acceleration in forward direction) showed a significant difference between the ridden and the unridden horse. The positive effect of a rider on the horses motion pattern variability was recognized. Saddle fit was shown to have an influence on motion: variability of velocity and of acceleration in forward direction was significantly lower with a fitting saddle compared to a non-fitting saddle. 

This technique might be useful to optimize the quality of the gait of performance horses, now we can assess saddle fit and the quality of the rider in the moving horse.  

> C. Peham et al, Human Movement Science 23 (2004), 663-671. All rights reserved to 2004 Elsevier B.V. Click here for the Pubmed summary

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