Biomechanics is the analysis of mechanics of human movement. The centre of gravity or centre of mass (COM) is the point around which all the body parts and the entire mass are arranged in perfect alignment. Riders and coaches need to have appreciation and develop an understanding of COM given the impact a horse’s movements can have on stability and balance.
Remember the horse has its own COM, as does the rider, both need to be in sync to be successful! During riding the COM of both the rider and horse change continuously, as the horses moves his neck forwards, his COM moves forward. When he lifts his neck his COM moves backwards etc. The key question here is what is the impact for the rider?!
Can poor weight displacement, position and use of the body impede performance? The rider should ideally rearranges his/her body around their COM in the different riding positions in order to maintain a balanced seat. Therefore, in effect the horse does not need to adapt given that there is no weight change on its back. Meaningful weight changes do affect the horse, interpreting what is meaningless and meaningful can be tricky and confusing for a horse!
Please don’t compare a horse (500kg+ quadruped) to a rider (50kg+ two legged/bipedal on stirrups), horses will have superior control on their COM, the hard work is trying to match it!
- A horses COM changes continuously, therefore a riders will need to as well.
- A lack of control over a riders COM can have meaningful effects on the performance of the horse.
For more detailed info check out Equine biomechanics for riders – Karin Blignault