Related Research at UK

Jenny Burbage and Lorna Cameron

Current Research Project: An Investigation into the Self-Perception of Body Image in Female Horse Riders

Staci McGill, Morgan Hayes, Kimberly Tumlin, and Bob Coleman

Completed Research Project: Indoor Arena Survey Results Fact Sheet

Karin Pekarchik, Kimberly Tumlin

Completed Research Project: Portrait of a Rider: Characterizing Active Participants in Horse Activities and Horse Sports

Kate Snyder

Article: How to (Actually) Learn Your Dressage Test

Kimberly Tumlin

University of Kentucky Press Release: How Studying the 'Two-Legged Equine Athlete' Can Help Make Racing Safer for All

Snyder, Kate

Guest Blogpost: Acing my Dressage Test: Cognitive Psychology at the Barn

Pekarchik, Karin

Master's Thesis: “Riding Through Life: A Lifespan Study of the Attitudes, Behaviors, and Areas of Educational Opportunity for Female Equestrians Toward Bra Use and Health Outcomes When Engaged in Equestrian Sport

McGill, Staci

Ongoing Research: Environmental Exposures and Design of Indoor Arenas: Impacts on Heat Transfer, Air Quality, and Health of Horses and Riders

Master’s degree candidate Staci McGill intends to gather information on how environmental exposures and arena design impacts heat transfer, air quality and the health of both horses and riders.

Her research survey will be available through July 24, 2018, at

BAE 402 Senior Design, 2017-2018

Team Biomedical - Equestrian Impact

Team Members: Sam Day, Maria Morales-Menedez, Lauren Bell, Christina Herrold

Instructors: Dr. Sue Nokes, Ph.D., P.E., Dr. Mick Peterson, Ph.D.

Clients: Karin Pekarchik, Dr. Kimberly Tumlin, Ph.D., Dr. Josh Jackson, Ph.D.

Because equestrian sports are physically demanding and dangerous, it would be helpful to understand how the female body is impacted by riding, and which body parts may be at risk. According to a recently conducted survey at the University of Kentucky, women, who make up about 80% of riders, experience breast, hip, knee, and ankle pain while and from riding. A sensor system that monitors impact and stress on equestrians' spine, hip, knee, and ankle would provide preliminary research in this under-researched area.

BAE 402 Senior Design, 2016-2017

Team Biomedical - Equestrian Bra Development

Team Members: Meaghan Dunn, Kali Sebastian, Christina Zhang, Emma Benedict

Instructor: Dr. Czarena Crofcheck, Ph.D., P.E.

Clients: Karin Pekarchik, Dr. Kimberly Tumlin, Ph.D., Dr. Josh Jackson, Ph.D.

In the world of equestrian sports, female riders often experience breast pain that is not alleviated by trying different styles of bras. Breast pain in female equestrians can be caused by tight shoulder straps, rubbing and chafing from the fabric, and the underwire in the bra. Horseback riding also results in a large amount of vertical breast displacement during riding. This displacement takes an irreversible toll on the fatty tissue that makes up the breasts, which cannot regain condition through exercise after being damaged. These added risks and long-term health consequences support a higher need to invest in an equestrian-specific bra that protects against damage to the breasts. A possible design solution to address the issue of breast pain that female equestrians experience while riding was developed. The proposed solution needed to be comfortable, supportive, and affordable. The comfort aspect involved incorporating breathable and fitting fabrics, which can also conform to several body types. By assessing the needs of a female equestrian compared to a female runner, the following design changes were implemented: a 2.5 in upper compression band, vertical strap orientation, reinforced padding, and a closure. An existing sports bra was retrofitted with a compression band that went from the back closure to the front above the top of the breasts, and tested on a subject running on a treadmill at various speeds with a force-sensing fabric inserted between the bra and the breast centered around the nipple. While the results showed a higher average pressure on the testing prototype, they also demonstrated less activity of the testing prototype, indicating reduced breast movement.