Recent Research – BSc (Hons) Equine Studies

The effect of rider weight on stride length and temperature of the horse’s back – Anna Nicholas, Lorna Cameron and Sarah Loveday Lovell

This study investigated the impact of rider weight ratio to horse weight on stride kinematics and under saddle temperature in the ridden horse. Varied rider – horse weight ratios were tested and findings suggested that a rider weight exceeding those tested was required to induce observable changes in stride kinematics. Further study would be required to further inform welfare friendly management of working horses.

Advancing Equine Science Excellence (AESE) Increasing participation in Equestrianism (IPiE) collaborative project – Hana Wilson, Sarah Nottingham, Lorna Cameron and Sarah Loveday Lovell

As part of a nationwide project supported by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) two students investigated barriers to participation in equestrian sports in a range of potential and lapsed riders. The findings from this project have been included in a larger research project which will be published in due course. View further information

A study of diet management practices and their effect on the digestive health of the part stabled leisure horse – Tina Sharp, Lorna Cameron and Katy Robson

Part stabled horses were monitored in a longitudinal study to establish foraging habits, forage consumption time and resulting faecal pH. Finding showed that horses finishing their forage ration earlier in the overnight period had consistently lower faecal pH the subsequent morning. A significant negative correlation was established between time spent overnight with no forage access and subsequent faecal pH. Whilst these findings were limited by the effect of extraneous variable, it suggests that further study in the area is warranted.

Recent Research – BSc (Hons) Equine Science

Sparsholt and Dodson & Horrell research at the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS) Conference, University of Chester

Leigh Niles, current MSc EBPT student and BSc (Hons) Equine Science graduate presented her research at the BSAS Conference. Completed through the Dodson & Horrell Sparsholt Bursary, the project established ingestive behaviour using novel forages, finding significant differences in preference and consumption time, suggesting inclusion of these mixes could impact feeding rate dependent on needs of the individual horse.

Is there a difference in pH levels within faecal matter between horses fed on hay and haylage? – Cameo Pike, Lorna Cameron, Natalie Stones and Katy Robson

Faecal pH was measured from a range of horse kept on a mixed system of overnight stabling and limited daytime grazing access with similar concentrate rations with forage provision of either hay or haylage. All horses had a similar workload, management system and daily routine, varying only in type of forage provided. Significant differences were observed in faecal pH between the groups the haylage fed groups showing a significantly lower faecal pH consistently. These results suggest that further study is warranted to establish the implications of these findings.

Standing and riding asymmetry in the horse rider – Vicky Edge, Lorna Cameron and Katy Robson

A range of riders submitted to morphological and biomechanical measurements both on and off the horse. A significant association was established between standing, walking and riding asymmetry in the leisure rider. Implications for coaching the rider may include the need to influence asymmetry in off – horse coaching or fitness rather than solely whilst riding.

Ongoing Collaborative Projects

Sparsholt College Equine students are involved in a range of collaborative research projects in this academic year. Research with the Breast Health Research Group of the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth involves MSc Equine Behaviour, Performance & Training students investigating breast biomechanics in female horse riders, breast health issues in the general female riding population and muscle activation in the horse rider utilising the riding simulator at Quob Stables, Hampshire.

Burbage, J. and Cameron, L.J. An investigation into the prevalence and impact of breast pain, bra issues and breast size on female horse riders. Journal of Sports Sciences

BSc (Hons) Equine Science student, Leigh Niles, was awarded the Dodson & Horrell Sparsholt Research Bursary and is investigating chewing and bite rates in novel forage blends utilising horses from the Sparsholt College Equine Centre.

BSc (Hons) Equine Studies student Emma Sluter, has also utilised her summer job at Meon Valley Stud to investigate training responses in Thoroughbred yearlings being prepared for sale, continuing an established research link.

FdSc Equine Studies students are involved in a project for Steri-7 investigating the effectiveness of different concentrations of disinfectant wash on bacterial proliferation in horse clothing which several students intend to build upon for their year 3 dissertation when they “top-up” to BSc (Hons) Equine Studies next academic year.

For a third year, Sparsholt College students are also involved in a nationwide project for Advancing Equine Science Excellence (AESE), a committee of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF). This year’s study is the Equine End of Life (EEoL) project and is supported by World Horse Welfare (WHW) and The Donkey Sanctuary (TDS). It investigates the issues surrounding the most difficult decisions that horse and donkey owners have to make and is attempting to identify what effective support charitable organisations can provide to help improve the welfare of the nation’s equids.

    • Would understanding the equine industry’s perception of Equine Dystonia allow a more targeted approach for promoting awareness?
    • Does the inclusion to the horse’s diet of specific carbohydrate blends (prebiotics) influence the coefficient of apparent digestibility, and improve hind gut health as measured by faecal pH, and any behavioural observations.
    • Effect of DHA on Sleep and Recumbency in the Horse.
    • Starch intake, hind gut wellbeing and onset of aberrant behaviour.
    • The cooling down rates of working riding school horses.
    • The effectiveness of Pet Remedy on the stereotypical vices and behaviours of stabled horses.
    • Motor lateralisation – Is it hereditary in Thoroughbred racehorses?
    • Does human interaction cause stress in domesticated donkeys?
    • The effects of a body protector upon rider asymmetry.
    • Straw and nutritionally improved straw as a partial forage replacer.
    • The effects an Equi-Cube has upon the rider’s rectus abdominal muscles.
    • The Influence of Video Feedback on the Canter Transition according to Riders Perception.
    • Objective measurements pre and post spinal manipulation 
  • The negative image of Horse racing investigated through the gender prism

    • Gender Influence on Elite performance
    • The effect of breast support on vertical breast displacement and incidences of exercise induced breast pain across equine simulator gaits in female riders over the age of 40
    • Investigating riders’ perceptions of the rider/coach relationship
    • A retrospective study: Behavioural changes pre diagnosis of Equine Grass Sickness
    • Does Rider ability affect rein tension and eye temperature of the horse?
    • Asymmetry in Animal Based Professions
    • Effect of a core fitness programme on rider position and trunk surface electromyographical parameters