Gaze behavior of elite riders

Equine scientists at Nottingham Trent University have investigated how eye movements of elite riders can determine their success in show jumping. In a world first, the research used state-of-the-art technology to compare the “visual strategies” of riders of varying experience, providing the first detailed insight into the gaze behavior of elite riders.

In sports involving hand-eye co-ordination, elite athletes are known to direct their gaze, make predictive eye movements and focus on important relevant features for longer than non-elite athletes. In show jumping, however, these visual strategies are particularly important when approaching a jump, where the skill of both the rider and horse combine to determine the correct take-off point.

Using a hi-tech mobile eye tracking device, the researchers recorded exactly what a rider looked at – and how long for – when approaching a jump. A spectacle-mounted unit was able to monitor the minute movements of the rider’s eye and then overlay those movements on to a video of where the rider is facing. When played back, the footage shows a red circle to depict exactly what the rider was looking at, frame by frame, during the approach to a jump. Read more here.

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