The Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance is a specialist unit at Hartpury College, dedicated to the treatment and development of riders as athletes, whatever their experience, ability or discipline. Combining the curriculum areas of equestrianism and sport, the Centre was refurbished in 2015 at a cost £250,000, funded by the Margaret Giffen Charitable Trust, and complements the College’s Equine Therapy and Canine Hydrotherapy centres. As well as a wheelchair-accessible gym, classrooms and treatment beds for athletes, the Centre is home to one of only four three-day event simulators, on which riders can try a Grand Prix dressage test, tackle a showjumping course, ride cross-country, or just go for a leisurely hack. The facility is used by organisations as diverse as Riding for the Disabled, British Showjumping and British Dressage, and is available for hire to individuals and accredited practitioners seeking assistance with issues such as posture, stability and riding fatigue. The simulator is also used to encourage people from all walks and stages of life to take up riding to enhance their physical and mental well-being. In this busy and business-like environment, students have customer-facing roles, assisting with the Centre’s commercial development as part of their programme of study. Students also benefit from the Centre’s Performance in Equestrian Sport Group, which conducts a substantial research programme, developing simulator-based protocols to identify performance indicators in riders. The controlled environment also provides facilities to test tack, particularly saddlery, through the use of rein, seat and leg pressure sensors and 3-D motion-capture cameras.


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