Physiological Demands and Muscle Activity of “Track-Work” Riding in Apprentice Jockeys

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

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Kylie A. LeggSchool of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Darryl J. CochraneSchool of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Erica K. GeeSchool of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Paul W. MacdermidSchool of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Chris W. RogersSchool of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Purpose: To enhance performance in race riding, knowledge of current training workload is required. The objectives of this study were to quantify the physiological demands and profile the muscle activity of jockeys riding track-work. Methods: Ten apprentice jockeys and 48 horses were instrumented with heart-rate monitors, accelerometers, and a surface electromyography BodySuit (recording 8 muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal, lower back, obliques, abdominal, trapezial, and pectoral) that recorded continuously while riding their normal morning track-work. Data were extracted and time matched into 200-m sections for analysis once the jockey reached steady-state canter (6.9 m·s−1). Results: Jockeys rode a mean (±SD) of 6 (1) horses each morning over 2.5 hours, spending ∼30 minutes at a canter (8.8  [ 0.7] m·s−1), with mean heart rate of 129 (11) beats·min–1 and ratings of perceived exertion representing easy-/moderate-intensity exercise. Mean magnitude of horse (0.17 [0.01] m) and jockey center of mass (0.16 [0.02] m) displacement per stride differed from that of the jockey’s head (0.11 [0.01] m, P < .05). The majority of horse oscillation was damped in the upper body with a 3-fold reduction in the medio/lateral and fore/aft planes (P < .05), to minimize jockey head movement. Lower-body muscles absorbed horse motion, with core and upper-body muscles important for postural stabilization. Conclusions: The physiological demands of riding track-work were low, with no evidence of fatigue. Future research on jockeys in races as comparison would identify the specific requirements of a jockey-specific physical conditioning program.

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