Psychological and Emotional Responses of Elite Riders to the Injury of their Equine Partners

Emma Davies, Richard Collins, Julia Ennis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Objectives: The purpose of the present study was to investigate the emotional and psychological responses of elite riders to the injury of their equine partners. Design: A phenomenological design was implemented to identify common perceived meanings of a shared experience (equine injury).

Methods: Five riders competing internationally in dressage, show jumping and eventing were interviewed about their experiences when their equine partner suffered a serious, or career-ending injury. Interview questions explored the athletes’ careers, their initial reaction to the injury, coping mechanisms and the return to elite competition.

Results: Thematic analysis revealed that depression, denial and guilt were common emotional responses, similarly experience by athletes in response to their own injuries. Injury to their horse led riders to question their identity as elite athletes, and question their careers within equestrian sport.

Conclusions: Riders perceive the horse as part of the ‘athlete’ package thus are at twice the risk of injury-related psychological stress when compared to other athletes. Coping resources for riders are needed within equestrian sport to minimise the psychological impact of injury, particularly at elite level. Goal setting and social support systems are beneficial for coping with injury in other athletic environments and should be implemented within specific sports science support for elite riders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
EventDivision of Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference 2016 - Queen's Hotel, Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Dec 201515 Dec 2015


ConferenceDivision of Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference 2016
Abbreviated titleDESP2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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