DOI: 10.3390/ani13152496 ISSN: 2076-2615

Evaluating Overall Performance in High-Level Dressage Horse–Rider Combinations by Comparing Measurements from Inertial Sensors with General Impression Scores Awarded by Judges

Sarah Jane Hobbs, Filipe Manuel Serra Braganca, Marie Rhodin, Elin Hernlund, Mick Peterson, Hilary M. Clayton
  • General Veterinary
  • Animal Science and Zoology

In the sport of dressage, one or more judges score the combined performance of a horse and rider with an emphasis on the technical correctness of the movements performed. At the end of the test, a single score is awarded for the ‘general impression’, which considers the overall performance of the horse and rider as a team. This study explored original measures that contributed to the general impression score in a group of 20 horse–rider combinations. Horses and riders were equipped with inertial measurement units (200 Hz) to represent the angular motion of a horse’s back and the motions of a rider’s pelvis and trunk. Each combination performed a standard dressage test that was recorded to video. Sections of the video were identified for straight-line movements. The videos were analyzed by two or three judges. Four components were scored separately: gaits of the horse, rider posture, effectiveness of aids, and harmony with the horse. The main contributor to the score for gaits was stride frequency (R = −0.252, p = 0.015), with a slower frequency being preferred. Higher rider component scores were associated with more symmetrical transverse-plane trunk motion, indicating that this original measure is the most useful predictor of rider performance.

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