Most riders want a better bra, a recent study has found, while having “too big” breasts is a major factor preventing women from riding.
The research, led by Dr Jenny Burbage and Lorna Cameron, follows on from their previous findings that breast pain is putting some women off riding.
The pair set out to establish the impact of bra design, fit and breast size in female riders.
Out of the 1,324 women who took part, 75% wanted an improvement in bra support, style and fit for riding. A quarter of participants also reported one or more breast-related barriers to riding.
“This is the first research to specifically explore breast health issues and bra concerns in horse riders and the results highlighted the need for more consideration in bra design for this group of women,” said Dr Burbage.
“Many horse riders were dissatisfied with their current bras, the breast was often a barrier to them riding as often as they’d like to, and breast education levels were low.
“Targeted educational initiatives for this population are justified and further research is needed into the demands of this activity on the breast biomechanically.”
The top request from participants who wear a size D-cup or above was “need better support”, this was followed by “better style” with “better fit” in third.
Across all bra sizes, 44% said their current underwear did not fully meet their needs.
A total of 19% of larger breasted riders reported that they were embarrassed by excessive breast movement and 15% did not like the look of their breasts while they exercised.
“Breasts too big” was also cited as the fourth highest barrier to riding — above the cost of taking part in equestrian sport.
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Ms Cameron said the results establish riders are “dissatisfied” with their current bras.
“Further study is needed to measure specific breast movement in horse riding and address these barriers to physical activity within the female population,” she added.
The researchers now plan to analyse data collected from horse trials and to investigate equestrian-specific breast displacement, compared to other sports.
Dr Burbage and Ms Cameron have also been working with the British Equestrian Trade Association and the British Equestrian Federation in recent years to produce the Horse Riders’ Guide to Bras.
The free six-page leaflet offers guidance on how to know if a sports bra fits correctly, and some simple checks that can be done in the changing room to quickly find out it will be suitable for riding.
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