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Doctoral thesis2018Open access

Postural strategies in skilled riders

Engell, Maria Terese


For optimal horse-rider communication, high-levels of technical riding-skills are needed which requires both self-coordination of the rider and coordination with the body of the horse. The scientific documentation of the optimal postural position and the technical skills for a rider is limited. It is generally agreed that good riders should be highly symmetric and must continue to develop symmetry in themselves and their horses for optimal performance in riding. On the other hand, asymmetry in riders is recognized as a negative trait. To improve the technical skills needed to develop high-level performance, the kinematics of the core segments of the rider’s body must be understood and objectively characterized. The aim of this thesis was to target the intersegmental postural strategies of the foot, pelvis, trunk and head in skilled riders under three conditions: riding, walking and rocking a balance chair. 3D high-speed motion capture and inertial measurement unit techniques were used. The individual studies acquired and analyzed data from 7 to 20 high-skilled riders. Sagittal-plane riders kinematics were compared between passive and active riding situations; three different intersegmental strategies were found in active riding. Most of the riders applied increased pressure on the withers area during active riding and with increased collection of the horse. Furthermore, associations were found between intersegmental postural strategies while riding, sitting on a balance chair, and walking. During walking the foot with the higher degree of eversion/pronation was associated with greater contralateral pelvic drop in early stance. Skilled riders showed a higher degree of trunk movement compared to pelvic movement while rocking a balance chair. The results suggested high degrees of movement asymmetry in these skilled riders, when comparing the individual segmental strategies on left versus right directions both when seated but unmounted and during riding. It is well accepted in the equestrian community that skilled riders should communicate with the horse through pelvic movements. The ability to characterize the intersegmental postural strategies of the rider´s seat may enhance the possibilities to train body awareness and improve equestrian performance in the future. The long-term goal should be to produce healthier individuals and better performance and the results from this thesis may promote this development.


rider, posture, asymmetry, dressage, balance, equestrianism

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2018, number: 2018:27ISBN: 978-91-7760-194-4, eISBN: 978-91-7760-195-1
Publisher: Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Other Veterinary Science
    Sport and Fitness Sciences
    Clinical Science

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