The University of Kentucky Sports Medicine Research Institute launched the Jockey and Equestrian Initiative (JEI) in 2018 after a pilot study sought to create baseline protocol for concussion testing in jockeys. With a mission “to optimize health, wellness and performance for the equestrian athlete through research,” one of the core values of the JEI is to promote safe environments for athletes during both training and competition. These values will in turn help the horses the athletes ride, as well.
The JEI is expanding to look at jockey health in other aspects besides concussions; these include flexibility, body composition, leg and grip strength, reaction time and balance. After each of these parameters is tested individually, researchers attach electrodes to the jockeys and then have them mount a mechanical horse names Charlie.
The jockeys then “ride” in a two-minute simulation of the Breeders' Cup. A small screen next to the horse gives instant rider feedback, including info on things like how the rider pulls on the reins or shifts their weight as the horse is running. The goal is to get an idea of “ideal” jockey performance.
The JEI seeks to better understand what jockeys experience during rides and understand the risks they take, with the goal of helping novice riders perform better in a safer environment, which will benefit both riders and horses.
Read more about the Jockey and Equestrian Initiative here.
Read more at WTVQ.
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