We caught up with performance analyst Russell Guire to find out more about his role within the team and the effect and importance of rider positioning in equestrian sport today.

Can you tell us more about your role within the team?

My area of work is in equine and rider biomechanics. I provide performance analysis for athletes across the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian disciplines - dressage, showjumping, eventing and para-equestrian dressage. I have been working with the BEF since 2006 and part of my role is to provide performance analysis to the World Class Programme, particularly looking at horse and rider interaction, and work closely with both the Equine and Human Sport Science and Medicine team, making adjustments which can help them improve performance.

How do you analyse a rider’s positioning?

As a multidisciplinary team we look at the rider's position on and off the horse. We use various measuring systems which provide an objective way to evaluate the interaction between the rider-saddle-horse's position.

Why is a correct riding position so important?

From our own research and other published work it has been shown that the rider’s position can have a significant influence on the horse, in terms of their balance, locomotion and ultimately performance. To understand the influence an asymmetric rider can have on the horse, if you imagine somebody sitting on your shoulders, when they lean one way the person carrying them would have to adjust their posture / gait to support that asymmetry.

Do you use any technology to look at the movement of the horses?

We use several measuring systems to evaluate equine locomotion; high speed cameras, inertial measuring units, a camera based system, as well as other systems. These systems evaluate the horses locomotion allowing us to objectively evaluate the gait and in a research setting, allow us to objectively determine any changes in gait as a result of an intervention.

How important do you feel biomechanics is in our sport?

Biomechanics has proven its use in other sports and in equestrian it is no different. Biomechanics looks at the small detail which could make a performance difference. Using various measuring systems we can evaluate the small detail which could give us a marginal gain to help our athletes achieve podium success.

 

*Russell Guire speaking to BBC's Clare Balding about equine biomechanics at Burghley Horse Trials in 2017.