Apprentice to Journeyman: the influence of jockey technique on Thoroughbred racehorse locomotion
31 October 2012
Dr Thomas Witte, Lecturer in Equine Surgery and co-applicants Dr Thilo Pfau and Professor Alan Wilson have been funded by the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) to work with the British Racing School (the centre of excellence for training in the UK racing industry) to study the influence of jockey technique on Thoroughbred racehorse locomotion.
Dr Witte describes the study:
“We already know from earlier work that jockey technique affects race horse performance. Now we want to find out which features of jockey technique dictate how effective a jockey is. For example, we will measure the symmetry of loading in the stirrups, balance between strides and timing of jockey movements relative to movements of the horse. At the same time we will look at the horse’s movements and see how their performance is affected by what the jockey is doing.”
The research team will work with trainee and experienced jockeys and the trainers and racehorses at the British Racing School at Newmarket. By using miniature GPS, inertial sensors and force transducers attached to the tack they will measure the movement patterns of both horse and rider during real galloping and during training on a racehorse simulator, to identify differences in riding technique between experienced and inexperienced jockeys.
Figure 1: a prototype of an instrumented stirrup
The researchers will also develop and test a new training device that will allow trainers to give trainee jockeys real time feedback on their performance during galloping, much like a racing driver receives telemetry feedback and can adjust their performance in real-time.
The findings from the study will guide future developments in jockey training and lead to improvements in safety for both horses and jockeys. They will also have implications for engineers studying the impact of load carrying on legged animals and robots.
We thank the Horserace Betting Levy Board for funding this work.
Figure 2: a jockey with GPS and inertial sensors
Figure 3: a jockey using a racehorse simulator
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