Researchers: Sensors Can Help Improve Rider Aids

Understanding the biomechanics of cues from a rider’s legs, seat, and hands could improve horse welfare, scientists say.
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Researchers: Sensors Can Help Improve Rider Aids
By collecting data on rider cues from the legs, seat, and hands, researchers were able to study the exact biomechanics of multiple riding cues at the same time. The results, they say, can lead to better rider education and improved welfare. | Photo: Erica Larson/The Horse
Have you ever thought about how you’re giving cues to your horse? Do you apply the same pressure, in the exact same spot, in the exact same way as other riders? And is it the way you’re supposed to be applying it? Knowing the answers to these questions can be good for learning to ride, as well as for horse welfare. The trick, though, is getting to those answers.

That’s why French researchers based at the Cadre Noir National Equitation School developed a wearable cue measurement system. By collecting data on rider cues from the legs, seat, and hands, they were able to study the exact biomechanics of multiple riding cues at the same time. The results, they say, can lead to better rider education and improved welfare.

“This complete and synchronized system provides information that helps better understand how the rider functions,” said Sophie Biau, PhD, research coordinator at the Ecole National d’Equitation in Saumur. “It’s used daily in the National Equitation School for pedagogical purposes with immediate feedback to the instructor during the training sessions.”

Biau presented her study at the 2017 French Equine Research Day, held earlier this year in Paris. She and her fellow researchers studied three high-level horse/rider pairs working under saddle at trot and canter in an indoor dressage ring. Their tack was equipped with pressure sensors in the reins, stirrups, and the seat of the saddle

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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