Another world first in rider analysis for the SRT

Charitable research group, The Saddle Research Trust (SRT), believe to have set a new standard in rider performance assessment, which they believe will make a significant difference to the future of equitation, performance and welfare.

Following a series of pilot studies carried out in conjunction with educational establishments throughout the UK, the charity has collaborated with Sunderland University in a long term research project, analysing measurable characteristics of the horse, saddle and rider.

A recent pilot study was undertaken by researchers from the university at Washington Riding Centre, which aimed to assess the potential of the new Xsens 3D Motion Tracking system in analysing rider posture. The system uses inertial sensors, integrated with GPS position and velocity tracking, which are located on the rider’s body. The system tracks full-body motion in any environment, indoors or out, allowing the rider’s innate, voluntary movements to be recorded, viewed and analysed on a standard PC in real-time.
This new innovation is proving to be extremely impressive claims the trust, generating huge amounts of highly accurate, easy to analyse data. The video capture can illustrate joint angles, centre of mass and motion, which enables the interpretation of rider posture, balance and symmetry. Additional sensors placed on the horse’s pelvis allow for the effect of the horse’s movement on the rider to also be assessed.

Explains SRT Director, Anne Bondi: “The new technology offers for the first time a real insight into horse and rider interaction. It not only has the potential to have a significant impact on the future of performance and welfare, but it is also huge fun! The first time we saw the captured images of the rider riding an invisible horse was just priceless!”

The new technology will be rolled out as part of a larger study involving various groups of riders from around the country, with the first study due to be held this autumn. This study will examine elite riders from the three disciplines of dressage, show jumping and eventing.

Fig. 1 - An example of how the Xsens data is represented on screen. In this instance, the rider is on the horse at a walk pace.
Fig. 2 - A rear view screen capture of the rider on a horse illustrates that the rider is asymmetrical. The software also enables analysis of the numerical data, as well as the dynamic on-screen mannekin.
Fig.3 - The above image is a line drawing to represent the SRT findings of the 'Three Way Asynchrony'' theory. You will observe that Fig. 3 is very similar to Fig.2 , suggesting that the horse/saddle/rider relationship in Fig. 2 is an asynchronous one.
About Xsens

Xsens is a leading global supplier of 3D motion tracking products based upon miniature MEMS inertial sensor technology.
Since its inception in 2000, several thousands of motion sensors and motion capture solutions have successfully been deployed in areas such as 3D character animation, rehabilitation and sports science, and robot and camera stabilization. Customers include Electronic Arts, Sony Pictures Imageworks, INAIL Prosthesis Centre, Daimler, Saab Underwater Systems, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and many other companies and institutes throughout the world.

Xsens’ research department has created unique intellectual property in the field of multi-sensor data fusion algorithms, combining inertial sensors with aiding technologies such as GPS and RF positioning and biomechanical modelling. The company and its products have received several awards, amongst which five consecutive entries in Deloitte’s ranking of fastest growing technology companies in Europe.
Members of Xsens’ R&D Team and the Rothschild Fund performed the world's-first 3D inertial motion capture of a horse's gallop in Woodside, CA, less than 15 kilometres from the site of Leland Stanford's Palo Alto racetrack where the famous photographer, Eadweard Muybridge, recorded the world's-first 2D photographic motion capture of a horse's trot 130 years ago.

"Study of equine locomotion for the past century has remained predominantly laboratory experimentation, in which horses are confined in a controlled environment with stationary cameras," explains Chris Hart (PhD), a research associate of the Rothschild Fund. "Our goal was to capture the horse's motions, without capturing the horse. Remarkably, Xsens, the one company capable of the technical innovation, was also the one company that shared our interest in free-moving horses."

The “MVN Equine” prototype will be used by the Rothschild Fund to further current understanding of horses and was recently presented to peers at the International Society of Biomechanics Equine SIG in Brussels, July 2011. The technology could potentially also be used to animate equine computer characters for visual effects in a large film production without the need to bring horses into a (motion capture) studio.


View the video here:

Fig. 4. A horse wearing the MVN Equine Xsens system and a screen shot of the data captured Fig. 5 The Xsens suit fitted to a human athlete
The SRT, in collaboration with Sunderland University, will hold it’s first advanced / elite rider study on Sept 12th and 13th, utilising the new Xsens system. Please see here for more details.

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