Demographic Profiling of Elite Dressage Riders

By Lucy Dumbell, Jenni-Louise Johnson and Donna de Haan.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Although it is commonly believed that equestrian sports differ in the demographic profile of their participants, and certain socio-economic groups may be under-represented, very little research into equestrian sports exists. The aim of this paper was to provide demographic profiling of participants in elite level dressage and compare profiles across levels of disciplines. Data were collected from 157 competitors, across three levels of competition at one Dressage festival in the UK. Three case studies provided demographic profiling data each representing one level of competition. Across all levels of competition there were more female competitors than males although as the levels of competition increased the proportion of male competitors increased resulting in female : male odds ratios of 8.09 at lower levels of competition to 1.56 at highest levels. As the level of competition increased the likelihood of the rider being the owner decreased; at lower levels of competition 91% were sole owners of the horse which decreased to 63% at the higher levels of competition. Age profiling and sport participation support unique ‘early start-late specialisation’ Long Term Athlete Development model of equestrian sport. Commentary on equestrian sport is to date based on the absence of empirical data. This paper provides the first demographic profiling of elite level Dressage and demonstrates the unique demographic profiling of those involved in equestrian sport.

Keywords: Demographic, Profiling, Dressage, Equestrian, LTAD

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.15-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 703.836KB).

Lucy Dumbell

Deputy Head of Department for Sport and Equine, Department for Sport and Equine, Hartpury College, Hartpury College, Hartpury, Gloucestershire, UK

I am the Deputy Head of Department for Sport and Equine at Hartpury College, Associate Faculty of the University of the West of England. I contribute to both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, leading modules in research methods and equine performance and welfare. I am very interested in equestrian sports and what characteristics are shown by successful equestrian athletes.

Jenni-Louise Johnson

PhD Student, Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, Worcester, Worcestershire, UK

I was the Subject Leader in Equine Science at Hartpury College, Associate Faculty of the University of the West of England. I am now registered for a PhD with the University of Worcester investigating the physiological demands of eventing performance for riders. I have a MSc in Applied Equine Science but am also studying to become a UKSCA Strength and Conditioning Coach and a level three Personal Trainer.

Donna de Haan

Senior Lecturer - Sport Management, Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, Worcester, Worcestershire, UK

I’m a senior lecturer in Sport Management, within the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Worcester. I teach on both the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, across a range of subject areas including sport management, event management, sport entrepeneurship and sport marketing. I have a BSc and MBA and am currently completing my PhD which focuses on the British Equestrian team’s Olympic and Paralympic experience. I have presented my research at several national and international conferences and have co-authored several chapters and papers focussing on equestrian sport.