The purpose of this study was to determine whether significant differences exist in the position of a horse rider when assessed at different points in the horse's stride cycle at walk, trot and canter on the right rein. Video analysis was used to determine the absolute angles of the trunk, thigh and lower leg of five subjects during the walk, rising trot and canter. The range of movement of the trunk, thigh and lower leg during each gait was also determined. At walk significant differences in the rider's trunk angle were found between limb impacts (P<0.05). At trot significant differences were found in all angles between impacts of the horse's diagonal limb pairs (P<0.05). At canter, there were no significant differences in rider position between limb impacts. The range of movement of the trunk was 5.9°, 4.1° and 4.7° for walk, trot and canter, respectively. The corresponding ranges of the thigh and lower leg were 1.9°, 7.3° and 4.4°, and 2.9°, 5.2° and 3.9°, respectively. This preliminary study has demonstrated differences in rider posture between limb impacts in walk and trot. Further work is necessary to investigate the forces acting on the rider during each gait and the postural strategies employed by riders to maintain a balanced position. Such work is a necessary forerunner to the study of rider influence on horse performance.
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