Researchers are to investigate the influence of jockeys’ technique on the performance of thoroughbred racehorses.
“We already know from earlier work that jockey technique affects race horse performance,” said Dr Thomas Witte, lecturer in equine surgery at Britain’s Royal Veterinary College, who is carrying out the study with Dr Thilo Pfau and Professor Alan Wilson.
“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 researchers 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.
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.
The research will be funded by the Horserace Betting Levy Board.