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A comparison of the position of elite and non-elite riders during competitive show jumping

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The purpose of this study was to compare the jumping positions of elite riders (within the top 150 of the British Showjumping rankings) with non-elites (unranked). Video footage of 10 elite and 10 non-elite riders jumping a one stride double combination (a vertical followed by a square oxer) within a 1.20 m competition was analysed. Four angles were measured: the angle between the trunk and the vertical (TRUNKvert), the hip angle (HIP), the angle of the thigh to the horizontal (THIGHhoriz) and the angle of the lower leg to the horizontal (LOWER LEGhoriz). Differences in the angles at five points throughout the double combination and the changes in angles between points were compared using Mann-Whitney U tests. The effect of fence (vertical versus oxer) within groups (elite and non-elite) was also compared. The level of significance was set at P<0.05. HIP angle was significantly smaller on approach to the vertical (P=0.019) and significantly greater when approaching the oxer (P=0.001) for elite riders compared to non-elites. During approach to the oxer compared to the vertical elites had a greater HIP angle (P=0.007), whereas non-elites had smaller HIP (P=0.005) and THIGHhoriz (P=0.005) angles. During suspension, non-elite riders had a greater HIP (P=0.01) over the vertical and smaller LOWER LEGhoriz angle over the oxer (P=0.028) than elite riders. There were significant differences in change in HIP, THIGHhoriz and LOWER LEGhoriz angles between elite and non-elite riders between approach to and suspension over the oxer (P=0.007). During suspension, only elite riders showed an effect of fence with a greater HIP angle (P=0.005) and smaller TRUNKvert angle (P=0.013) over the oxer. Key differences in angles and change in angles exist between elite and non-elite riders. This information is useful in characterising elite rider position and identifying areas of interest for future study.

Keywords: fence; oxer; rider position; vertical

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2015

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  • 'Comparative Exercise Physiology' is the only international peer-reviewed scientific journal specifically dealing with the latest research in exercise physiology across all animal species, including humans. The major objective of the journal is to use this comparative approach to better understand the physiological, nutritional, and biochemical parameters that determine levels of performance and athletic achievement. Core subjects include exercise physiology, biomechanics, gait (including the effect of riders in equestrian sport), nutrition and biochemistry, injury and rehabilitation, psychology and behaviour, and breeding and genetics. This comparative and integrative approach to exercise science ultimately highlights the similarities as well as the differences between humans, horses, dogs, and other athletic or non-athletic species during exercise. The result is a unique forum for new information that serves as a resource for all who want to understand the physiological challenges with exercise.
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