A ground-breaking study into breast support for riders is being carried out by a team of researchers.
Sparsholt College masters student Felicity Goater is working alongside the breast health research group at the University of Portsmouth in the study.
She is looking to establish the biomechanics of riders’ breasts during riding and, ultimately, to find out if there is a link between good support and good riding.
Felicity, who is studying for a masters in equine behaviour, performance and training, is also a freelance BHSAI.
“Being a riding instructor myself I am interested in rider biomechanics, and am always keen to find ways to improve rider position and balance, and horse and rider harmony,” she said.
“The majority of female riders tend to wear a sports bra butdo not understand what breast support is needed.”
She told H&H she was inspired to research the topic following a conversation with Dr Jenny Burbage from the breast health research group at Portsmouth University shortly after she started her masters last autumn.
Felicity found there has not yet been any published research that investigates the breast biomechanics of female riders to help them choose what to wear.
She added that she hopes the findings will be significant not only for the equestrian industry, but also for womens’ participation in sport in general.
The data collection for the project will be done with the help of Quob Stables Equestrian Centre, Hants, using their horse simulator.
The academics are hoping to measure at least 12 participants and each will ride the simulator in walk, trot, and canter.
They will try out several support conditions — a riding bra donated by LessBounce, a daily bra, their normal riding bra and no support.
Felicity hopes to publish her findings by the end of the year.
A recent study by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) reported that 74% of riders are women.
A spokesman for the British Equestrian Federation, which is the riding affiliate of Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, said: “As a sport with so many female participants we are excited to hear about this research and keen to hear the results when they are published.”
Charity Women in Sport also welcomed the news.
A charity spokesman said it is supportive of any developments that provide potential physiological benefits for women and girls participating in sport, as it could help to close the current participation gap.
She added that around two million fewer women than men currently play sport on a regular basis.
“This research into supporting female horse riders is an excellent example of what can be done to improve the sporting experience for women, and has clear implications across different sports,” she said.
They are still looking for candidates that are of a 32DD, 34D or 36C size to spend two hours taking part in July.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to take part
Ref: H&H 9 July, 2015