Risk-taker? Try eventing! Getting on in years? Don’t worry, it could make you a better rider! Hartpury lecturer part of research project exploring rider personalities


A Hartpury lecturer is breaking new ground as a joint contributor to an important study revealing the link between the personality traits of riders and the equestrian sports they choose.

Dr Jane Williams, Hartpury’s new Head of Animal and Land Sciences, has teamed up with another two researchers – Sport Psychology expert Dr Inga Wolframm and physiologist and Biochemist Dr David Marlin - to produce a fascinating study that has been published in a top research journal.

Entitled ‘The role of personality in equestrian sports: an investigation’, the study has been published in the ‘Comparative Exercise Physiology’ journal.

It looks at whether certain personality types are associated with different equestrian disciplines ranging from general pleasure riding, to dressage, eventing, showjumping, Western, showing and more.

Jane said: “We undertook the study because there was very limited research in this area in equestrian sports. In other sports, personality has been linked to levels of athlete and also with the types of sport people participate in but we felt that there was an opportunity to explore the link between riders’ personalities and their choice of equestrian disciplines.”

A key finding of the research was that riders who compete are more conscientious and extroverted than leisure riders, while those over 35 tend to be less anxious and more emotionally stable, which could make them better riders.

The study also uncovered the finding that those who compete in a discipline like eventing are generally more open to taking risks, while dressage riders tend to be more open to new experiences, ideas and thoughts.

David said: “Most competitive riders will, at some stage in their career, encounter situations that will tax their resolve. Riders who are conscientious by nature will work very hard at overcoming these obstacles. And riders who are extrovert might even enjoy the challenge of it all.

“Horse riding is one of the few sports where performance isn’t hindered by someone’s advancing years. Current findings help to explain why riders who are calm, committed and empathetic can be much more effective at training horses.

“Knowing that these character traits develop with age, we need to encourage any kind of coaching system whereby older, experienced riders take younger ones under their wings.”

Hartpury has just opened a brand new rider performance centre that will see the college support equestrians from all disciplines and levels to access facilities and professional therapists that will enhance their performance as riders, as well as recover from injury.

And Jane is hopeful that this new research can play its part in fine-tuning students’ skills. She added: “Now that we know what makes riders tick, based on their innate personality traits, we can help them make the most out of the partnership with their horse.”

Inga said: “Understanding more about personality can have important implications for how equestrian sports are marketed, on talent selection and on how riders are coached.”

Share this article