Motion tracking devices are being used to establish the optimal riding position for jockeys, as well as to reduce the risk of injury to both horse and rider. A research team from the Royal Veterinary College is analyzing the riding style of more-experienced jockeys and comparing that style to novice riders to try to determine if the technique between the two differs significantly.
It’s hoped that if the position of more-experienced jockey’s is identified, that novice jockeys could be taught to emulate this position more rapidly and reduce the incidents of falls.
Initially using data collected from jockeys riding a racehorse simulator in a lab setting, the research team looked at how the rider’s body was displaced by the simulator’s movement, trying to determine if the jockeys with more experience were more stable and positioned differently.
Next, the team worked with the British Racing School (BRS) to collect data of jockey’s positions while riding live horses.
Building off earlier research, it was determined that after jockeys adopted the crouched riding style, horse racing times were improved by between 5 and 7 percent. This position reduces the jockey’s load on a horse and isolates their center of gravity, allowing the horse to move freely underneath the jockey. While the horse has to support the weight, he doesn’t have to move the weight forward and backward with each stride.
Fourteen measurement units on both the jockey and the horse allow researchers to track the movement of different parts of the jockey relative to the moving horse. Once researchers better understand the movements of both the jockey and the horse, the number of sensors will be reduced, allowing the device to become a part of jockey training. It’s hoped that these sensors will allow jockeys to improve their technique more rapidly, reducing the risk of injury to both horse and rider.