Riders’ Effects on Horses—Biomechanical Principles with Examples from the Literature

Hilary Mary Clayton, Russell MacKechnie-Guire, Sarah Jane Hobbs

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

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Movements of the horse and rider in equestrian sports are governed by the laws of physics. An understanding of these physical principles is a prerequisite to designing and interpreting biomechanical studies of equestrian sports. This article explains and explores the biomechanical effects between riders and horses, including gravitational and inertial forces, turning effects, and characteristics of rider technique that foster synchronous movement with the horse. Rider symmetry, posture, and balance are discussed in the context of their relationship to rider skill level and their effects on the horse. Evidence is presented to support the feasibility of improving equestrian performance by off-horse testing followed by unmounted therapy and exercises to target the identified deficiencies. The elusive quality of harmony, which is key to a true partnership between riders and horses, is explored and described in biomechanical terms.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023


  • biomechanics
  • equestrian
  • gravitational effects
  • harmonics
  • harmony
  • horse–rider interaction
  • inertial effects


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