Female Equestrian Health Community of Practice Established at UK

The idea for a CoP stems from research by Karin Pekarchik, who conducted a survey in the spring of 2017 on female equestrian breast discomfort/pain and other health issues.
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Three-quarters of professional female riders reported breast pain within the last year, a higher percentage than nonprofessional riders. | Photo: iStock
Researchers have conducted a large amount of research on horse health and well-being and on rider injury and injury prevention. However, they’ve conducted less research on female equestrian health and wellness over riders’ lifespans. An international group of researchers and experts aim to remedy this gap in knowledge by participating in a community of practice (CoP).

The idea for a CoP stems from research by Karin Pekarchik, who conducted a survey in the spring of 2017 on female equestrian breast discomfort/pain and other health issues. Pekarchik and her research collaborator Kimberly Tumlin, PhD, of the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Public Health, have been working with British researchers Jenny Burbage, PhD, of the University of Portsmouth, and Lorna Cameron, of Sparsholt Centre College, both in England, to better understand breast health and discomfort that limits riding.

As first reported by Pekarchik and Tumlin at the 7th Annual UK Equine Showcase, 75% of all professional female riders who participated in the survey reported breast pain within the last year, a higher percentage than nonprofessionals, and riding activity resulted in a higher proportion of professional equestrians with small cup sizes reporting pain.

From these data and the initial collaboration, Pekarchik and Tumlin recognized that additional aspects of female equestrianism were under-researched. That inspired them to start the community of practice. By connecting researchers and industry experts globally, they believe that a collective understanding of the influences on health and wellness of equestrians can be established and sustained through collaborative funding efforts and educational outreach to promote both horse and human health

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