The aim of this trial project was to identify whether buried archaeological remains may have an influence on equine locomotion, through comparison with a non-invasive Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey. This study was conducted at the world-renowned Burghley Horse Trials site, near Stamford, City of Peterborough, U.K. that has a diverse range of heritage assets throughout the wider park land centred on the Grade 1 listed Elizabethan Burghley House. The initial aim of the research was to first use geophysical survey to identify and characterise archaeological remains, and then to determine a suitable location to conduct an equine locomotion study. This trial was conducted with five event type horses with their gaits recorded through the use of three axis, wireless, Inertial Measurement Units, and high speed video capture. It was hoped that this study might indicate an association between the presence of well preserved archaeological remains and changes in the gait of the horses, similar to those shown by studies of dressage horses over different riding surfaces. The results from the equine locomotion study did demonstrate a correlation between the presence of surviving archaeological remains and the alteration in the horses’ gait and, although this is only a preliminary study, the results may well be of interest during the design and construction of equine event facilities. Geophysical survey could, for example, be considered during the design of new or alteration to existing equine courses to allow some mitigation in the location of the course with respect to any archaeological remains, or through the appropriate use of a protective artificial surface.
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