Researchers hope their upcoming study of video footage of the cross-country phase of Eventing will help identify and reduce the risk of horse and rider injuries.
In recent years, Eventing has been in the spotlight over cross-country falls, with research showing rotational falls to be of particular risk to horse and rider combinations.
Despite governing bodies of the sport working hard to reduce risks in the sport, researchers argue that further work is required to identify factors which contribute to these occurrences.
The innovative video research is being led by the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences at Britain’s Nottingham Trent University in collaboration with Australian-based Eventing website An Eventful Life.
The project will use An Eventful Life’s video footage of international and grass-roots Eventing competitions in Britain, Australia and New Zealand, providing an extensive and searchable library of footage as background data for the research.
The researchers hope to evaluate the factors that contribute to successful jump clearance and apply their findings in coaching scenarios and to influence improved jump design.
“The benefits of video feedback have been demonstrated in other sports, such as tennis, but its use in equestrian sport has not been fully explored,” said Nottingham Trent University PhD student Jess Johnson, who has a passion for equestrian sport and has worked part-time as a groom for 10 years.
“Through the use of videography, the researchers hope to evaluate the factors that contribute to successful jump clearance, apply their findings in coaching scenarios and influence improved jump design.
“The factors which contribute to successful jump clearance have already been studied. What makes this project unique is the video aspect.”
Dr Jaime Martin, an animal and zoo biology lecturer at university, and one of the lead researchers on the project, says there is a team at the university researching factors that contribute to horse and rider safety. These include rider behaviour, surface condition and rider psychology.
“This project is a really exciting new opportunity to analyse already existing video evidence to improve safety and coaching.”
Martin’s past work has included involvement with a team that worked with the FEI to produce a set of standards for equestrian surfaces. He was involved in the evaluation of equestrian sports footing for the London 2012, Rio 2016 and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, and is part of the broader team at the university which focuses on equine biomechanics, equine injury and injury risk.
An Eventful Life’s director, Paul Higgs, added: “With a vast library of more than one million jumps filmed at events around the world, An Eventful Life provides a unique visual data resource, which will continue to grow during the period of this study, to contribute to the innovative research team at Nottingham Trent University.
“Eventing is a thrilling sport that is growing in popularity around the world, but we need to make it safer for horse and rider. That is our aim.”
The study also involves the university’s Dr Carol Hall and Professor David Crundall, a psychologist in the university’s School of Social Sciences who specialises in gaze-behaviour, particularly in vehicle drivers.
Hall is a senior visiting research fellow who was instrumental in bringing about this collaboration. She specialises in equine perception, including the visual ability of horses (in particular, colour vision) and the visual behaviour of equestrian athletes (visual memory, eye tracking in different equestrian disciplines and the impact on performance).