Researchers in Britain have employed advanced motion-sensing technology in an effort to identify the optimal riding position for jockeys.
It is hoped that the findings might ultimately help in jockey training, potentially enhancing the performance of racehorses and reducing the risk of injury to both the horse and jockey.
The research team from the Royal Veterinary College, led by Dr Thomas Witte, have been working alongside the British Racing School on the project, which is entitled, “Apprentice to Journeyman: the influence of jockey technique on thoroughbred racehorse locomotion”.
For the past year, Witte, a senior lecturer in equine surgery at the college, and Dr Anna Walker have been collecting data by analysing jockeys on a racehorse simulator in the Structure and Motion Laboratory.
Data was collected through inertial measurement units attached to both the jockey and the simulator. These recorded the jockey and the simulator movement from stride to stride. Particular attention was given to the foot and pelvis positions of the riders.
In this initial phase of the research, Dr Witte and Dr Walker were interested in how the body of the rider is displaced by the movement of the simulator. They were keen to identify how, if at all, the movement, stability and positioning of a novice rider differed from an experienced jockey.
Witte and Walker have since visited the British Racing School to discuss their findings for the first stage of this research.
Their work to date has been described as a first step in identifying an optimal riding position.
The next phase of the research will involve collecting data “in field” by measuring the relative movement of jockeys when riding real horses at the school.
The research is being funded by the Horserace Betting Levy Board.