University Centre Sparsholt looks ahead with support for future projects

University Centre Sparsholt (UCS), home of the Sir Mark Todd Rider Performance studio is delighted to confirm that Natalie Stones, Equine Lecturer and Lorna Cameron, Teaching Fellow have been awarded the highly coveted Lecturer Bursary from the British Horse Foundation.

An aim of The British Horse Foundation (BHF), is to advance education, training and research in animal husbandry and allied subjects.  The Lecturer Bursary will provide support over a three-year period for a minimum of three undergraduate or postgraduate equine research projects. It will also assist by supplying research expertise from the wider academic and equestrian world.  The bursary can be used to provide the opportunity to build up multiple projects under one thematic area or a series of projects that combine to make a publishable piece of work, allowing the lecturers to develop their knowledge in an area.

The application process for the Bursary was highly competitive with many applicants of high quality in the running. The UCS Equine team are delighted to receive the award as the projects will form an interesting new area of rider performance research investigating the impact of rider body image on equestrian performance.

 The programme of research will continue on from Natalie Stones’ Masters by Research project (University of Portsmouth) which investigated the impact of body image and clothing state on rider position. Areas for investigation will include a survey to investigate body image issues within the equestrian industry as a whole, and in further studies, how rider body image and body morphology impact judge and coach perception.  This will eventually lead on to how these issues may remove barriers for participation in the equestrian industry. 

 Lorna Cameron, Teaching Fellow, said: “We are delighted to receive this Bursary from the British Horse Foundation to assist us in our student led Rider performance research. Effective science communication within the equestrian community is part of our mission here at University Centre Sparsholt.”  

 The grant will allow us to fund a programme of study that will build on our existing findings and aims to establish key points regarding rider performance, rider perception of body shape and its subsequent impact on equine welfare.

 Self-perception of body image and the potential impact on well-being and performance have been widely documented in other sports but not yet in the equine industry, making this an exciting area for further investigation.

 Tim Jackson, Sparsholt Principal, added: “This is an amazing opportunity for our Higher Education students to network and work with world leading equine scientists. This is fantastic recognition for our passionately research active UCS Equine team and will provide support for upcoming student research projects for future publication. We are so proud of the work that they have already achieved in Equine research and look forward to seeing the results of the upcoming research investigations.