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Deciphering the cues from riders’ legs.

Hawson, L., Koprinska, I., McLean, A., McGreevy, P. 2011. Deciphering the cues from riders’ legs. 7th International Equitation Science Conference, the Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publisher.

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Medially directed pressure cues from the riders’ legs are an almost universal signal for acceleration across equestrian disciplines. We have developed a system for measuring critical variables involved in these signals: pressure, contact area, and duration of cue application. Twelve riders of varying experience seated on a saddled artificial horse torso were asked to give a cue for ‘trot’ they would usually give a well-trained horse every 20 seconds. This process was repeated 10 times over 200 seconds for each rider. REML analysis of calf-contact-area data during cueing showed that inter-rider variance accounted for 89.7% of total variance but that intra-rider variance was small (1.7%). Variance between applying and not applying the cue for each rider was 8.6% of total variance (P<0.001). Inter-rider variability in duration of change in calf pressure accounted for 72.1% of total variance; the remainder coming from intra-rider variability. 69.1% of total variance in calf pressure increases during cueing came from inter-rider variance. Variance between applying aid and not applying aid was 19.2% while intra-rider accounted for 11.7% of total variance (P<0.001). Duration of change in calf pressure indicated nearly equal intra-rider (48.4%) and inter-rider (51.6%) variance. These data suggest that, for an individual rider, changes in calf-contact-area cues for an upward transition may be more consistent than calf pressure changes but that, between riders, calf pressure changes are more consistent. Durations of intra- and inter-rider change for both calf pressure and calf-contact-area were inconsistent. This investigation has identified changes in rider leg cue variables, identified parameters of relevant stimuli in rider’s leg cues and established base line measurements for these cues as well as identified sources of variablity in the upward transition cueing process.