Two weeks left in the term?! How did this happen!
I’ve been figuratively, and sometimes literally, smothered by projects, lab exams, and review that I’ve lost track of time. That being said, nothing is really new either. I’m almost nervous for December holidays to arrive because I’m not sure what I’ll do without the stress of having to finish a lab report, analyze a joint, calculate the probability in a two tailed hypothesis test, or finish case studies. What a crazy few months it’s been. I survived the 6 midterms in a week. I’m hoping I’ll make it through this big biomechanics project alive, and the finals. Oh the finals.
I never fully accomplished unpacking my room after moving in in September, so maybe that will get finished during break. I’ll definitely be working because not having income kind of sucks. I’ll hopefully be riding because I’m missing that part of my life like crazy. But, first I have to get through the next two weeks.
On the docket this week is the presentation of my Biomechanics research project. Which, if you’ll remember, I did on the posting trot as a unskilled vs skilled analysis. I had two awesome subjects who let me tape them up and make them trot around a ring until I got the shots I needed. Since then, my partner and I, have been breaking down their movements into phases, measuring the angles of their joints, and deciding what would be the best aspect to present to our class and professor. We are required to discuss one qualitative (what you can observe) and one quantitative (calculations and what they mean in relation to what you previously observed) aspect of the project (the paper itself will involve many more of these aspects, including many more calculations yay). Our qualitative aspect is simply showing the difference between the skilled and unskilled subject in the critical instant of the movement, i.e.. when the rider is up out of the saddle, mid-post, with a straight line from their shoulder, hip, to ankle joints. All riders know this as it’s drilled into our heads day in and day out by coaches, for good reason. We found that there was only a small difference between our riders, being a deviation in the placement of the ankle joint. The skilled rider had great alignment, while the unskilled’s ankle was just ahead of the vertical. This would suggest less stability in the lower leg. Our quantitative analysis was based on the velocity (speed) of the rider’s hip joint during the follow through phase, ie.. as they sink back into the saddle after critical instant. To calculate this we used the change in degrees of the hip joint, divided by the time it took them (calculated by the number of frames over the amount of frames per second the camera filmed at).
Why is this important?
Well, you know how coaches sometimes say to slow down the rhythm of your posting? This is exactly what we’re looking at. We found that the skilled rider had about 18degrees/second and our skilled rider had about 19degrees/second in their hip joint. Not a huge difference, but enough of one to prove our point. The slower velocity supports a controlled follow through phase, which in all sports is necessary for injury prevention- probably less of an issue in this case, but a controlled movement is pretty important to create balance, support the horse’s movement, remain stable in the saddle, and flow with the movement. Plus the more controlled and stable the rider is in their follow through, the less jarring on the horse’s back. In that slower velocity of the skilled rider we can show that she is able to control her body as it sinks down into the saddle, and maintain a better rhythm while being stable in the saddle- allowing her to follow the horse’s stride. Of course there is also the aesthetic portion to this part of the skill. The more balanced and stable you are in the saddle, the less you interfere with your horses natural movements and the better the entire picture looks.
Anyone asleep yet?
This is only a small part of the project. As I mentioned earlier the paper will include all that and more. We’ll be calculating almost everything there is to to calculate based on the information we have in the videos. Can’t wait. But for right now, our main focus is getting this presentation done. Probably the biggest challenge will be trying to get all of what I just wrote above across to a room full of people who have basically no understanding of the equestrian sport. Sometimes even my partner has to stop me when I’m talking through some of this stuff and ask me to explain in english. I have honestly never thought about the posting trot in such depth before. Who knew it 30% of my final mark in a University course would be riding on a movement I don’t, or never used to, really even give a second thought to? Education, gotta love it.
Wish me luck!