First steps to establishing an equestrian morphology: Can Vitruvian ratios help?

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Within equestrianism there is increasing focus on rider position and posture, not only in terms of aesthetics and the overall harmonious picture it may portray of the horse-rider combination, but more importantly on the rider’s physical ability to deliver clear, well-timed signals to the horse during training and competitive performance. Anthropometry has been successfully used in a wide range of non-equestrian sports to identify morphologies that are more likely to be successful than others in completing the tasks required by the particular sport or discipline. As physical data have become more readily accessible questions have arisen regarding the rider’s physical ability to achieve and maintain ‘ideal’ and symmetrical riding positions allowing them to transfer their weight and manage their limbs and consequently deliver distinguishable signals to the horse. Clearly identified ideal morphologies exist for a wide range of sports, but there is nothing for equestrianism. Da Vinci’s Vitruvian ‘man’ possesses ideal geometric proportions that depict perfect symmetry and proportion. Within equestrian it is common belief that riders (and horses) should be symmetrical. This study explored how the dimensions of a population of 51 female riders (24.8±8.29 years) aligned with Vitruvian ideals. Ten relative body proportions, selected as potentially the most relevant to horse riding, were obtained for each subject and ratios with total height derived. Only arm span, shoulder width and upper chest to the top of the head in relation to total height aligned with Vitruvian ratios (all P>0.05). Two primary principal components were identified – total height and arm span that could be of potential use for development of an equestrian morphology. Although horse riders’ physical dimensions failed to align well with Vitruvian measures, total height and arm length may have the potential to explain differences in riders’ ability to physically interact with horses and consequently impact their welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-74
Number of pages12
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 05 Feb 2020


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