Two recent pieces of research have identified commonalities between faults in showjumping, with top coaches believing performance analysis could hold the key to marginal gains at the highest level
Analysing faults incurred in showjumping could give riders a performance advantage, research has suggested.
Study “Faults in international showjumping are not random”, by veterinary scientist David Marlin and Jane Williams of Hartpury University and published by Wageningen Academic Publishers, looked at 250 combinations in Nations Cup legs held during 2017.
They found riders are nine times more likely to have faults during the second part of a course, 49% of knockdowns occur at vertical fences and a straight approach to a fence reduced the chance of faults by 48%.
A second study yet to be published but presented at the 2019 Equine Science Symposium in North Carolina, US, titled “Analysis of faults in amateur showjumping”, by Dr Marlin, Ms Williams and Merlin Perlo, reviwed 4055 jumping efforts across 11 classes at a British Showjumping (BS) event.
This found riders were nearly six times more likely to have faults jumping off the wrong canter lead, and faults were more than 98% more likely at a vertical than an oxer.
Dr Marlin told H&H he believes by looking at performance objectively, riders have the potential to improve.
“Some might say this is stuff we’ve known — but we’re putting numbers to it. There’s further information we can get from this, but we have to look at the basics and see they make sense before we look at more complex things such as rider position, speed, colour of jumps,” he said.
“Where this is interesting is not the results as such, but how riders can apply analysis to gain performance advantage. For example, if you follow a horse and rider over a season and characterise their faults, you might be able to see patterns developing or changing. When margins are so small, anything you can use to have one less pole down or be two seconds faster is a massive influence.”
Dr Marlin added performance analysis has been used successfully in other sports.
“Many athletes keep notes of their performance, but in equestrianism we don’t seem to be as good at doing that — it’s an area where we could do better. It can be pretty simple such as keeping a diary of what your faults are or having someone video your round.”
International showjumping coach Corinne Bracken told H&H performance analysis has “endless possibilities”.
“It can help a rider not only perform better, but allows them to seek professional advice in whichever area is needed according to the analysis — for example, identifying the need for a vet or rider physiotherapist,” she said.
“As our sport becomes more about technical performance, analysis has to be taken into consideration as one of the key factors that will help give us marginal gains.”
BS course-designer and coach Gillian Milner told H&H performance analysis could be beneficial for higher-level riders.
“You have to look at the level and ability of riders for analysis to work, and I feel at lower levels it could be harder to digest — it’s important they can take the information on board and understand it,” she said.
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