Rider Performance and Equine Biomechanics Analysis

What is Rider Performance and Equine Biomechanics Analysis

Biomechanics is the technique used to study, measure, analyse, understand the function and motion of the mechanical system that effects of the forces acting upon and within a living system/structure. In this instance the studying of the forces applying to the biomechanics of horses.

Performance may be measured to determine if there is potential to increase efficiency of the combination of rider and horse. It may also be utilised to determine if the horse is suffering from injury or other related discomfort.

Measurement will consider forces that can be grouped into two categories, (internal and external) Internal forces are, for example, the understanding of the action of bones and muscles, the stretching and contraction of tendons, muscular growth, impact/impairment associated with an injury. External forces are the forces generated by the contact of the horse’s hooves with the ground or the impact the rider may have on the horse, through the saddle and other tack.

 The measured and recorded information will be evaluated and studied to establish how safety and welfare may benefit the rider and the horse.  


How the Consultation Works

Consultation is the use of several tools, commencing with a consultation session with the owner to establish a case history, general behaviour of the animal, previous injuries, the demands on the horse, etc. Following this an Osteopathic examination will be undertaken in order to understand the condition of the horse’s ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints, etc. A recording phase will be commenced, utilising electronic equipment.

 There are a number of electronic recording devices that will be set up to a predetermined arrangement so that an accurate record the motion of rider and horse, under loaded and unloaded condition. An example of the type of equipment would be: video and still cameras, force platforms, electromyography, strain gauges, pressure transducers, and accelerometers). Riders will be asked to wear a training jacket with the horse and the rider being fitted with time markers. Riders will then be asked to ride through a standardised exercise test area at which point footage and pressure testing will be taken with the aid of high-speed cameras and pressure pads.

 By Focusing on the way the rider positions him/herself on the horse, when static and in movement an accurate reviewed and analysis can be undertaken.

 The studying of the collated recordings, verbal information and physical observations will enable a comprehensive understanding to be achieved and which can be actioned to dictate training and treatment requirements if necessary.


What is Analysed?

Analysis is the process of gaining data that can be recorded, evaluated and utilised for a number of reasons, for example to consider a very specific problem that a completion horse and rider may have, or to look for the problems a farm animal may have when undertaking specific tasks, such as pulling or to established the reason for a loss in flexibility or behavioural problems of a recreational horse.

 Analysis will also allow evaluation of the rider and the horse, in motion to enable a detailed understanding of the harmony between them.

 Information gained though analysis would be utilised to improve the horse’s health, character, locomotion, geometry of movement, rhythm and regularity of stride. The rider’s habits, positioning, fitness, stability and equipment, (saddle, harness, bit, etc.) will be used to consider and ascertain if the complex relationship between the rider and the horse can be enhanced through adjustment of equipment, an improvement in the rider’s motion, practice, positioning, etc.


How to Get the Most out of Your Analysis

Osteopathy in conjunction with Biomechanical equipment is able to record the forces at work in movement and the interactions with the rider. The recordings can be studied and analysed to enable a comprehensive understanding of the singular and shared movement, including balance, strength and stamina. By concentrating on training methods, by identifying areas that may be causing discomfort to the horse, understanding the positioning of equipment, etc. a treatment or training programme can be designed for the horse as well as the rider, if required..

In summary the information gained through the analysis of biomechanics monitoring may lead to the following:

· An understanding of shared balance, strength and stamina that may lead to the maximising of both the rider’s and equine’s potential.

· The Analysis can detect and remedy previously unrecognised areas of restricted movement.

· Horse and rider compatibility, (ability to move together harmoniously),

· Horses locomotion and movement,

· The improving of the horses comfort which will correct equine behavioural problems,

· Evaluation of training methods and recording for future review of progress or areas that may require additional review,

· By understanding the design of the bit, its position and size and how it may be influencing oral comfort and by adjustment it could lead to a more compliant horse,

·  Assist to identify and to adjust, if necessary the fitting of tackle,

· To ensure the correct rider position,

· To facilitate gait analysis in dressage horses,

· Etc.

Please remember that riders have a duty of care and responsibility for their horses and should aim to optimise their health and welfare.

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