Does the sensitivity of a woman rider improve the way a horse performs? Or does the strength of a male rider produce better performance? According to scientists at Veterinärmedizinische Universität (Vetmeduni) in Vienna, the horse doesn’t care. Scientists there recently published a paper describing how they arrived at their conclusions.
Eight horses, eight male riders, and eight female riders were tested. Each horse was asked to jump a course of obstacles twice—once with a male rider aboard and once with a female. Stress levels in both horses and riders were monitored by checking cortisol in saliva and heart rates. As far as the horses were concerned, cortisol level and heart rate changes were the same whether the rider was male or female. Likewise, test results were basically the same for both male and female riders.
A second test was performed to study the forces transmitted to the horse’s back by male and female riders. With the use of a specially instrumented saddle pad, pressures at various points were recorded at the walk, trot, and canter with both male and female riders in the saddle. Although the females were generally lighter in weight than the males, and therefore produced less saddle pressure, the distribution patterns of the pressure under the saddle were the same for both males and females.
Click for more details in Science Daily.