Equine studies students analyse body protectors

October 2012

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Equine studies students from Writtle College assessed the impact of body protectors on riders’ performance as part of a collaborative research project.

The first and second year BSc Equine Studies students visited the sports science laboratories at the University of Kent to participate in a collaborative research trial looking at the thermal properties and effects of wearing body protectors during exercise.

Body protectors are worn for protection against falls by event riders during the cross-country phase of eventing and are a compulsory item of equipment at both amateur and elite level competition, such as the Olympic Games event held at Greenwich Park this summer.

The trial involved a series of ergonomic tests on an exercise cycle at different air temperatures, in the university’s specialist environmental chamber at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences in Chatham.

Measurements - including heart rate, body temperature, oxygen utilisation and blood lactate levels - were taken, to determine the effects of wearing a body protector on athlete performance. The temperature within the body protector itself was also recorded to determine its thermal properties.

Pennie Wallace, senior lecturer in equine studies at Writtle College, said: “The students gained a lot from their visit to the University of Kent in terms of enhancing their understanding of rider performance and the analysis of physical parameters affecting athlete performance during a simulated competition environment.

“Being in the early stages of their degree programmes, it also provided them with an excellent opportunity to be part of an innovative research trial and provide them with future ideas for their own research.”

The collaborative research was initiated as part an MSc dissertation for Writtle student Cassandra Rowlandson, by Mark Walker, Head of School of Sports, Equine and Animal Science at Writtle College, and Mrs Wallace, in conjunction with Dr James Hopker, Lecturer in Sports Science, and James Hogg, Sports Support Technician, from the University of Kent.

To find out more about the equine studies course at Writtle College, visit www.writtle.ac.uk