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Study to use video footage to help prevent injuries in equestrian sport

A new study involving Nottingham Trent University will use video footage to help identify and reduce the risk of injury to horse and rider in the equestrian sport of eventing.

Equine eventing
Equine eventing

In recent years, eventing has been in the spotlight in relation to falls during the cross-country phase,which aims to prove the speed, endurance and jumping ability of the horse.

The innovative research project is being led by NTU’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, in collaboration with An Eventful Life.

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 project will utilise An Eventful Life’s video footage of international and grass roots eventing competitions in the UK, 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.

Nottingham Trent University PhD student, Jess Johnson, said: “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.

“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, Animal and Zoo Biology lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and one of the lead researchers on the project, said: “We have a team at NTU which is researching the 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.”

Paul Higgs, Director of An Eventful Life, 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 NTU’s Dr Carol Hall and Professor David Crundall, a psychologist in the university’s School of Social Sciences.

  • Notes for editors

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2017 at the Times Higher Education Awards and Modern University of the Year in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. The award recognises NTU for its strong student satisfaction, quality of teaching, overall student experience and engagement with employers.

    NTU has been awarded the highest, gold, rating in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework for its outstanding teaching and learning.

    The University is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable Nottingham Trent to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is one of the top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the country and 95.6% of its graduates go on to employment or further education within six months of leaving.

    NTU is home to world-class research, winning The Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015 - the highest national honour for a UK university. It recognised the University’s pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula and combat food fraud.

    Jess Johnson combines her academic qualifications, a BSc (Hons) in Zoo Biology and MRes in Applied Anthrozoology, with a passion for equestrian sport. Her familiarity with the competitive nature of equestrian sport, as well as the training and preparation that occurs prior to an event having worked as a part-time groom for ten years, made her ideal choice as the PhD student for this project. Jess will be working closely with the team at An Eventful Life in the field as well as having expert input from the PhD supervisory panel at NTU.

    Behavioural ecologist Dr Jaime Martin will be Jess Johnson’s director of studies, managing the day-to-day requirements of her project from the University’s standpoint. A founding member of the RACES (Research and Consultancy in Equine Surfaces) team who work with the FEI to produce a set of standards for equestrian surfaces, Jaime has been involved in the evaluation of equestrian sports footing for the London 2012, Rio 2016 and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and is part of a broader team at NTU who focus on equine biomechanics, equine injury and injury risk.

    Dr Carol Hall and Prof. David Crundall are the other supervisors for the project.  David is a psychologist who specialises in gaze-behaviour, particularly in vehicle drivers. Carol, a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at NTU, has been instrumental in bringing about this collaboration and 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).

    Paul and Debbie Higgs of An Eventful Life will also be part of the Supervisory Panel while other expertise will be accessed and included as required through a supporting Advisory Panel.

Published on 10 May 2019
  • Subject area: Animal, equine and wildlife
  • Category: School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences