Student Research

Analysis of Equine Gaits to Optimize English-Specific Discipline Assignments

There are over 400 different breeds of the domestic horse (Equus ferus caballus), each selectively bred for a purpose. Breed differences frequently result in a distinctive gait, or body movement. Individual horses may also have gait variations that differ from other members of that breed. When put under a saddle, these gait movements result in an altered experience for the rider; with some gaits causing increased jostling or rider movement. The utility of a horse in a specific discipline is dependent, in part, on the impact, or bounce, factor experienced while riding that horse. The gait of horses (n=10) was analyzed and an evaluation technique was created to predict, based on the trot gait, the degree of bounce factor that would be experienced on a particular horse. This technique will allow breeders, riders, and trainers working with a horse to quickly and objectively select the discipline best suited for that horse without needing to ride, and subjectively assign the horse to an English-specific discipline.

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