2000 Volume 11 Issue 4 Pages 83-90
The aim of this study was to see if differences in proficiency exist between advanced-and novice-level horseback riders with regard to head movement and EMG activity. Three advanced-and three novice horseback riders rode a horse at a walk, sitting trot and canter whilst their head acceleration and the EMG activity of their rectus abdominis muscle (M. rectus abdominis), erector spinae muscle (M. erector spinae) and abductor magnus muscle (M. adductor magnus) were recorded simultaneously. All results were conducted with Frequency Analysis by the Maximum Entropy Method. At walk, the novice rider showed a frequency distribution dispersion (P<0.1) of the head in the proximal-distal direction which was not observed in the advanced rider, but no distinct primary factors were observed in the muscular discharge frequency distributions-perhaps due to the novice rider's level which was not completely inexperienced. At a sitting trot, unstable movements of the novice rider's upper body were observed in the cranial-caudal direction (P<0.05), mirroring the horse's violent rocking movements. The electromyogram frequency distributions at this gait suggest that the novice rider was unable to balance the erector spinae and rectus abdominis muscles, and therefore unable to cope with the unstable movement. It also suggests that there was instantaneous muscular activity of the adductor magnus muscle in order to stabilize the ill-balanced body. At a canter, there were no significant differences in the dispersion of acceleration frequency distribution or in the electromyogram frequency distribution, but although there were no "significant" differences, the results obtained from the advanced rider at this gait showed a dispersion of acceleration frequency distribution that was slightly greater than that of the novice rider. This situation was only observed at a canter. In conclusion, differences exist in the degree of difficulty of coordination between horse and rider according to the gait. In addition, from the results of this study, we can clearly see that differences also exist in the rider's own skill and ability to "maintain posture".