Are You and Your Horse a Good Match?
Getting the right fit isn’t just a matter of having an enjoyable ride, however. A good match can also lead to improved safety and performance, said researcher Roberta Ariboni Brandi, PhD, of the College of Animal Science and Food Engineering (FZEA) at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She and her colleagues recently studied the relationship between horses’ reactivity levels and how well they match with their riders.
Reactivity and Horse-Rider Match
Ariboni Brandi and her team at FZEA ran temperament testing on 37 police horses in Brazil, some piloted by familiar riders, some not. They evaluated their reactivity in five situations: crossing a bridge (in hand and under saddle), being exposed to suddenly appearing objects, and confronting active or passive humans. They scored each horse’s reactivity level on a scale of one to five, ranging from “calm” to “very aggressive.”
The scientists also observed the ridden relationship between the horses and their riders during a bridge-crossing test. Specifically, said Ariboni Brandi, they noted signs of “harmonious communication between rider and horse,” consistent rider signals, and the invasiveness of those signals—representative of a horse/rider “match
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