ABSTRACT. The authors studied the interaction between rider and horse by measuring their ensemble motions in a trot sequence, comparing 1 expert and 1 novice rider. Whereas the novice's movements displayed transient departures from phase synchrony, the expert's motions were continuously phase-matched with those of the horse. The tight ensemble synchrony between the expert and the horse was accompanied by an increase in the temporal regularity of the oscillations of the trunk of the horse. Observed differences between expert and novice riders indicated that phase synchronization is by no means perfect but requires extended practice. Points of contact between horse and rider may haptically convey effective communication between them.
In order to study the mechanism of lameness transfer from fore‐ and hindlimb lamenesses 2 hypotheses were investigated. Hypothesis 1: Horses with a true supporting limb lameness in one hindlimb show a false supporting limb lameness in the ipsilateral forelimb. Hypothesis 2: Horses with a true supporting limb lameness in one forelimb show a false supporting limb lameness in the contralateral hindlimb.
Fourteen horses with fore‐ or hindlimb lameness were used for this study. Each horse was measured at the trot on a treadmill with standardised speed, before and after diagnostic blocks (9 horses), or with and without induced lameness (5 horses). The head acceleration asymmetry (HAAS) and the sacrum acceleration asymmetry (SAAS) were used for quantification of fore‐ and hindlimb lameness respectively. Changes were documented by changes of the HAAS or the SAAS.
In all 4 horses with a true hindlimb lameness a synchronous false lameness of the ipsilateral forelimb was documented. In 6 of 10 horses with a forelimb lameness a lameness transfer could be assessed according to hypothesis 2.
The results of this study show, that horses with a true severe lameness in the forelimb show a false lameness in the contralateral hindlimb, and horses with a true hindlimb lameness show a false lameness in the ipsilateral forelimb. This indicates that the location of the truly lame limb can be deduced from the distribution of 2 lamenesses on a sagittal or diagonal axis.
Activity of the longissimus dorsi muscles is mainly responsible for stabilization of the vertebral column against dynamic forces. The difference between minimum and maximum activity may allow application of this method as a clinical tool. Data reported here can serve as reference values for comparison with values from clinically affected horses.
As in many other sports, e.g. gymnastics, judging dressage riding is problematic because the score is subjective. The aim of this study was to find a suitable method to support education of dressage judges and training of riders with a measurable criterion for riding harmony in the trot. We analysed the consistency of motion pattern 40 different rider–horse systems in trot (20 horses and 2 riders). A high‐speed (120 Hz) 3D video system for motion analysis was used to track 20 markers taped to the horse and the rider. The angle between the line connecting the rider’s head to the rider’s back and that between the rider’s back to the horse’s head was calculated. Angular velocity and angular acceleration were derived. The lengths of the resulting vectors (LV) in the phase space were computed. Riding harmony was defined in terms of the average deviation of LV in the phase space.
The results of our study showed the professional rider–horse system had a significantly (P < 0.05) lower average deviation of LV (11.5% ± 1.4) than the recreational rider–horse system (13% ± 2.8). Thus, the professional rider–horse system had a motion pattern that was more consistent than the recreational rider–horse system and this was correlated to the average dressage scores, which were significantly (P < 0.001) higher for the professional rider (mean score ± SD, 7.3 ± 2.7) than those for the recreational rider (4.1 ± 3.0). As motion pattern consistency is one of the main characteristics of riding harmony, the results of these measurements can be used for education of dressage judges and riders.
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