Study on Horse Stress and Inexperienced Riders

Though you might think a horse’s stress level would increase with inexperienced rider, they actually don’t according to this study posted on In equine therapy we have horses that are even trained to be very calm and have very low stress levels. 


“In their study, von Lewinski and colleagues investigated 16 German sport horses and 16 riders in a jumping pattern of seven jumps (at a maximum height of 97 centimeters, or 38 inches). Half the horses had participated in advanced-level show jumping competitions; the other half had just completed basic training and had never completed a full jumping course. The riders themselves were divided into groups of either high-level professional riders or amateur riding students. (All riders had sufficient experience to safely ride the horses over jumps, von Lewinski added.)

Each rider rode an experienced horse and an inexperienced horse over the jumping course, and each horse was ridden by an experienced and inexperienced rider. The researchers evaluated both horses’ and riders’ salivary cortisol (“stress hormone”) levels and heart rates before and immediately after the course. They also measured heart rates during the jumping round.

“The stress response of the horses was not affected by the level of experience of their riders and, in particular, not increased when the horses were ridden by less experienced riders,” von Lewinski said. “But for the riders, both their own experience and that of their equine partner influenced their stress response.””


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