Researchers at Nottingham Trent University’s Brackenhurst campus have led projects focusing on Equine vision and the visual skills of riders.
1. Features of equine vision and their impact on horse behaviour and performance
A comparative approach is taken to evaluate discrepancies between the visual experience of the horse and human and the impact that this has on equestrian performance. These include the optimal light levels for object visibility and stress reduction, with findings being applied to improve equine loading and travelling behaviour during transportation by road. Research into equine colour vision formed the basis of an award winning undergraduate project, where green matting on trailer ramps was shown to facilitate loading behaviour. Currently the focus of this research is on identifying the visual features of jumps that may result in visual misjudgement by the horse and consequent falls and fatalities.
2. Visual skills in human equestrian athletes
The visual behaviour of the human equestrian athlete can be measured using mobile eye tracking technology. Using this equipment we have found an association between visual behaviour, rider experience and jump clearance in show jumping. We have also demonstrated the use of visual training to improve the performance of novice dressage riders. Visual training programmes have the potential to improve performance and safety in all types of equestrian sport. Current research includes a post-graduate project at the British Racing School, a comparison between the visual behaviour of event and show-jump riders (undergraduate project) and ongoing research into the visual skills of elite cross-country riders.