Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Community & Leadership Development

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Community and Leadership Development

First Advisor

Dr. Lori Garkovich


Equestrian sport is a popular exercise choice for females of all ages, although the links between this exercise choice, health outcomes, and risk to health have not been thoroughly examined. These issues are of particular interest because the female equestrian has the opportunity to ride and/or compete for decades, from early to very late in life, covering almost the full sequence of the female lifespan. Equestrian sports provide physical activity through riding and caring for the horse, and promote positive mental outcomes through tangible practices, such as engaging in physical activity and hard work, goal-setting, acquisition of skills, and participation in a strong community of practice. Equestrianism is an under-researched activity and sport, but increased understanding of female equestrian health and wellness outcomes may contribute to better health and wellness outcomes for female riders. Since equestrian sports participants are predominantly female, with 74% to 80% of the riding population being women, it is important to understand and potentially improve the health and wellness of female riders. This improved understanding may provide their riding careers with increased longevity, comfort, and healthy. It may allow them to enjoy the sport, whatever their age, minimizing or preventing any health issues. A deeper understanding of mental and physical changes from riding will educate and empower women so they are making informed decisions as they ride, talk to their coaches and doctors, and invest in equipment ranging from sport-specific bras to saddles. Manufacturers may also become aware of the potential opportunity to market female-focused products to this community of practice, which has a demonstrated commitment to the horse and accompanying expenditures. Most research is centered on the horse or major equestrian injuries (death, concussion, bone breakage), but it is hypothesized that having an increased understanding of other health issues, ranging from breast, bladder, and groin health to bone density, weight, and body image, may be of great value. The following master’s thesis will review the current literature related to female health as it relates to equestrian sports; report results of a research survey conducted about female equestrian health and wellness, with a focus on breast health and bra use; discuss the survey results; and make recommendations for future research in this area.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)