Left-handed riders more likely to adopt ideal position in saddle – study

rider-positionLeft-handed riders may have the edge over their right-handed counterparts when it comes to adopting the ideal position in the saddle, research suggests.

Anaëlle Faouën and Katrina Merkies carried out a study to determine if the righthandedness or lefthandedness of riders had an influence on rider position.

The pair, reporting their findings at the recent International Equitation Science Conference in Denmark, found that while all riders could achieve almost ideal riding position at the halt, increasing movement of the horse altered rider symmetry.

Right-handed riders tended to lean more forward and carry their legs farther forward. The riding position of left-handed riders was closer to the ideal ear-shoulder-hip-heel alignment, they found.

Faouën, from Agrocampus Rennes in France, and Merkies, from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, said riders learned early in their riding career that the ideal riding position showed vertical alignment through the rider’s ear-shoulder-hip-heel, with equal weight distribution on both seat bones.

Without the correct position, riders cannot give the aids correctly which in turn affects performance.

Dominance on one side may affect the symmetry of a rider’s position and impair clear communication with the horse, they said.

The pair set out to determine if a correlation existed between rider laterality and rider symmetry.

A survey was completed by 25 female riders – 18 right-handed and seven left-handed – to collect demographic information and details on their riding discipline, level and frequency.

Each rider was videoed riding her own horse with markers affixed both to their ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.

Sixty still frames were captured from videos taken from both left and right sides and the rear while riding in a straight line at the halt, walk, trot, and canter.

Rider symmetry was determined by measuring the angle of displacement of a horizontal line drawn through the rider’s ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles from a vertical reference line.

Allowance was made in the subsequent analysis to account for the crookedness of the horse, with the researchers taking into account the displacement of the horse’s spine in relation to the rider’s spine.

They found that, at the halt, the position of all riders was very close to the ideal.

However, all riders differed in their head, leg, knee and chest positions on the left versus the right side.

Beginner riders leaned more forward than advanced riders.

Right-handed riders tended to lean more forward, tilted their head to the right, twisted their torso to the right, carried their legs more forward, and had a more open knee angle, whereas left-handed riders tipped their head more forward and pushed their right heel down farther.


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