Heart rate in professional and amateur showjumping riders in competition

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation at Conference


    Introduction: To meet the physiological demands of the sport or discipline, the demands must be known. Physiological profiling is a strategy used to identify key physiological components which contribute to the athlete’s performance. Horse riding is a demanding sport for the rider, with previous research suggesting muscular endurance, balance and both aerobic and anaerobic respiration pathways are key components of a rider’s performance in multiple disciplines. Showjumping is an Olympic equestrian discipline and is participated in by over 21,000 international level riders and countless lower level riders. Despite this, however, there is a lack of research into the physiological demands which may be limiting the performance and safety of the horse-rider combination. The aim of this study was to determine a general representation of heart rate (HR) in amateur and professional show jumpers during competition, and to determine whether HR is influenced by rider ability and phase of competition.
    Material & Methods: Six amateur and nine professional, male and female riders ((mean ±S.D.), height 169.11 ± 9.42cm, weight 67.35 ± 8.95kg, age 25.73 ± 6.90years) participated in the study. Professionals were competing in the 1.20m Open or Foxhunter classes at Hartpury Summer Showjumping Spectacular and were classed as those who had previously competed at 1.20m or above and rode for 8+ hours per week. Amateurs were competing at a British Showjumping competition (class heights 1.00-1.15m) held at Moores Farm Equestrian Centre and were classed as not having competed at 1.20m or above and rode fewer than 8hours per week. The participants were fitted with a HR monitor (Activio Sport System) and completed their own warm-up, entered a holding ring and completed the course as usual. The time at which the participants were in each phase was noted. The HR monitors recorded HR data (bpm and % HR maximum) from the start of the warm-up to the completion of the course.
    Results: The results indicate that HR increases over the duration of the course in both the professionals and amateurs, with peak values of 87.56 ± 13.11%HRmax and 96.63 ± 4.08%HRmax. Amateur mean and peak HR values were found to be significantly higher than professional HR in the warm-up (Independent samples t-test; p=0.003 and p=0.044) and course (p=0.005 and p=0.018). Results of the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test found HR in the course to be significantly higher than HR in the warm-up in the professional group (p=0.000). In the amateur group, HR during the course was also significantly higher than in the warm-up (independent samples t-test, p=0.000).
    Discussion & Conclusions: Heart rate in amateurs is thought to be higher due to increased anxiety, increased use of muscles due to a poor stability and pain related to saddle type and position. In the course, HR increases from the warm-up, maybe due to the additional anxiety of being in the competition. In conclusion, HR in showjumping riders is high enough to cause concern, particularly in riders who are less fit, as an increase in demands results in an increase in fatigue. Fatigue can cause the rider to lose concentration and balance resulting in decreased performance, faults or a fall.
    Period2 May 2018
    Event title8th Alltech-Hartpury student conference: 2nd May 2018
    Event typeConference
    LocationGloucester, United KingdomShow on map