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Article

Relationships between the Rider’s Pelvic Mobility and Balance on a Gymnastic Ball with Equestrian Skills and Effects on Horse Welfare

1
Vejle Hestepraksis, Fasanvej 12, 7120 Vejle, Denmark
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Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, 8830 Tjele, Denmark
3
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Michigan State University, 736 Wilson Road, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Joanna Hockenhull and Tamzin Furtado
Animals 2021, 11(2), 453; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020453
Received: 7 January 2021 / Revised: 3 February 2021 / Accepted: 4 February 2021 / Published: 9 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse-Human Interactions and Their Implication for Equine Welfare)
Horse riders need to be stable and well-balanced in order to give clear instructions to the horse. Riders use various types of off-horse gymnastic training in an attempt to improve riding performance but little information is available to support or refute their value for improving performance on the horse. This study evaluated and scored 20 experienced riders for their performance of three exercises on a gymnastic ball and for quality and harmony when riding their own horse. The rider’s ability to roll the pelvis from side-to-side was highly correlated with the quality and harmony of their riding performance. The ability to balance statically on the ball trended toward a negative correlation with pelvic roll ability. When ridden by riders with higher scores for pelvic roll ability, horses showed significantly fewer conflict behaviors and worked at higher heart rates, which reflect a more effective rider producing more impulsion while riding with greater clarity. It appears that the ability to actively move the pelvis when sitting on the ball is more relevant to equestrian performance than balancing statically on the ball in a position that is very different from the riding position.
Riders need core stability to follow and guide the horse’s movements and avoid giving unintended or conflicting signals. This study evaluated the rider’s performance of exercises on a gymnastic ball with on-horse performance and indicators of stress in the horse. Twenty experienced riders were scored performing three exercises on a gymnastic ball and for quality and harmony when riding based on evaluation of video recordings in which conflict behaviours were evident. The horse’s heart rate and number of conflict behaviors during the riding test and cortisol levels after completion of the test were measured. The rider’s ability to roll the pelvis from side-to-side on a gymnastic ball was highly correlated with ability to circle the pelvis on the ball and with quality and harmony during riding. However, pelvic roll and riding quality and harmony showed a trend toward a negative correlation with balancing skills on the ball. It appears that the ability to actively move the pelvis is more relevant to equestrian performance than static balancing skill. Horses ridden by riders with better pelvic mobility and control showed significantly fewer conflict behaviors. On the contrary, high scores for balancing on the gymnastic ball were negatively correlated with the horses’ working heart rates, suggesting a less energetic performance. Pelvic control and mobility may be predictive for equestrian skills and riding harmony. View Full-Text
Keywords: equestrian; dressage; balance; weight distribution; horse behavior; equine welfare equestrian; dressage; balance; weight distribution; horse behavior; equine welfare
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MDPI and ACS Style

Uldahl, M.; Christensen, J.W.; Clayton, H.M. Relationships between the Rider’s Pelvic Mobility and Balance on a Gymnastic Ball with Equestrian Skills and Effects on Horse Welfare. Animals 2021, 11, 453. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020453

AMA Style

Uldahl M, Christensen JW, Clayton HM. Relationships between the Rider’s Pelvic Mobility and Balance on a Gymnastic Ball with Equestrian Skills and Effects on Horse Welfare. Animals. 2021; 11(2):453. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020453

Chicago/Turabian Style

Uldahl, Mette, Janne W. Christensen, and Hilary M. Clayton. 2021. "Relationships between the Rider’s Pelvic Mobility and Balance on a Gymnastic Ball with Equestrian Skills and Effects on Horse Welfare" Animals 11, no. 2: 453. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020453

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