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Judo for Equestrian Sports?

We recently organsied a collaborative session with Swanson Racing and Black Belt Judoka Phillip Jeans at Rolf Valley Sport & Health where he taught The Zimbabwe apprentice Jockeys falling techniques to prevent catastrophic injury.

Research from the USA suggests that Jockey injuries occur more than 51% of the time they fall in a race (Hitchens et al., 2013). Jockeys are likely to fall every 500 race rides where 18-25% of the time, they sustain injuries to the lower limbs, followed by injuries to the face, head and neck (16-21%), shoulder (17-18%), upper limb (15%) and back (9-14%).

Jockey falls have been suggested to have impact velocities ranging from 20 to 30 mph (30-50 kph) and heights of up to 11 feet (3.5 m).

The sport of Eventing has seen 59 rider deaths since 1993. As specialists in High performance, our aim is to not only enhance performance in both the Human and Equine athlete, but also to prevent unnecessary falls, and unnecessary injuries after falls for the Equestrian partners across disciplines!

We are advocates of training riders particularly of the high speed equestrian sports to fall through Judo based techniques. Obviously riders wear protective gear which may affect the dynamics of the fall itself, therefore we would likely incorporate "falls" training to a programme until such a time as the athlete could be considered highly competent at which point we would add the protective gear and retrain the fall in that manner.

Phil has given us some great ideas which we will implement going forward. Check out our FB page for more photos!

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Equestrian Performance


   Kylie Bonthrone - Equine Physio and Rider Sports Therapist

          BSc (Hons) Equine Science, PGDip VPhys, SMT, NKTP, MIAAT           

    Craig Bonthrone - Strength and Conditioning Coach

       MSc Coaching Science, NSCA accredited,  BSc (Hons) S and C,  FdSc. 

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