Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Health Sciences


Rehabilitation Sciences

First Advisor

Nicholas Heebner


Over 6 million participate in equestrian activities each year. However, research focusing on the benefits and risks around equestrian activities is limited to epidemiological research and small sample sizes. Equestrian participation ranges from recreational to occupational, and little research has evaluated how the risks of participation change based on the level of participation. Special consideration needs to be given to the occupational equestrians as equestrian participation is their livelihood. The first two aims of this study were to evaluate the physical activity engagement, perceptions of equestrian as a sport, acute injury history, and chronic pain frequency of equestrians across all levels of participation. The second two aims of this study were to dive deeper into the jockey occupation, by characterizing workday habits and fatigue, and evaluate the cardiorespiratory relationship during racing activities. The results show that significantly fewer recreational participants perceived equestrian as physical activity and as a sport than amateurs and professionals. Engagement in equestrian and barn work physical activity was significantly higher in professionals, followed by amateurs, with the lowest in recreational equestrians. Professional and amateur equestrians engaged in significantly more non equestrian physical activity than recreational participants. Professionals had higher odds of experiencing acute injuries in most anatomical regions. Experiencing a past acute injury to a region had higher odds of experiencing chronic pain in all anatomical regions. American jockeys utilize similar weight cycling behaviors to other jockeys around the world, specifically caloric and fluid restriction during their workday. Peripheral fatigue across the jockey’s workday was not significantly affected when using a novel occupation-specific postural stability test. The cardiorespiratory relationship between running on a treadmill and riding a galloping simulator are significantly different. The results from this dissertation suggests future research should focus on evaluating use of wearable technology along with more in depth analysis of injury pattern and pain to develop guidelines for injury prevention, proactive training programs and rehabilitation plans based on the level of participation in equestrian activities.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the Central Appalachian Regional Education and Research Center in 2020.

Available for download on Friday, May 09, 2025