Horse-rider pairing perception by dressage judges and equestrian coaches.

Sofia Forino, Lorna Cameron, Natalie Stones, Marianne Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


The ideal equestrian body image (BI) is a smaller physique and riders feel body shape (BS) influences subjective judge scoring within dressage competitions. The aims were to identify perceptions of equestrian coaches and dressage judges of rider body shape (BS), identify perceptions of appropriate horse-rider matching and establish the impact of BS on perceived rider ability. An online survey (GoogleFormsTM) was shared, respondents (n=265, coaches=174 judges=91) viewed images of twelve riders of different BS (Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph) mounted on three horses of different breeds/types and asked to indicate the best horse–rider match. Judges were asked if body shape or inappropriate horse-rider matching influenced scores given, this was used to identify any bias from judges. A significant perception for horse rider matching identified the cob as the most appropriate for the Endomorph physique (p<0.001). Ectomorph was the most chosen as the ideal BS on all horses. Both coaches and judges identified the ideal physique as a smaller image from the BI scale. Both coaches and judges individually perceive that BS impacts rider ability (p<0.001). These findings of BS perceived as linked to rider skill potentially identifies an issue and may correspond to the smaller physique being idealistic. Future research into physique related bias from judges is required to further identify the impact of BS on subjective judging within equestrian sport.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Issue numberSeptember
Early online date19 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Appearance
  • Horse riding
  • Horse-rider matching
  • Performance


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