We are thrilled to be able to host Dr Heather Cameron-Whytock, with colleagues Heather has conducted three significant studies into Horse falls at events. Heather’s 2023 study on horse falls in British Eventing competition was the largest scientific study ever published and if you check out her bio below you will see why we are so keen to hear from her.
Equestrian eventing is a dangerous Olympic sport, with 16 rider and 69 horse fatalities at competition in the last 10 years. Despite this, there is limited research that aims to improve safety within the sport. The objective to Heather’s recent work was to identify risk factors for horse falls, which are the leading cause of rider fatality within the sport.
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Dr Heather Cameron-Whytock
Dr Heather Cameron-Whytock is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire. Heather spent many of her early years competing and producing young horses for affiliated eventing competition, whilst working for international eventing riders. These experiences shaped Heather’s passion for equestrian sport and fed into the research that she now conducts. She completed her BSc(Hons) in Equine Science (Physiology) in 2013, completing a study on horse falls in eventing for her undergraduate dissertation which led to international presentations at conferences in Denmark and Ireland. The study findings were featured in Eventing-, Horse- and British Eventing Life-magazines. As a result of this, Heather was also invited by the FEI to present her findings at the FEI national safety officers’ seminar in Switzerland. In the years since, Heather has attended and presented at further FEI seminars in Madrid (Spain) and the UK.
Heather’s PhD research focussed on eventing sport, investigating ways to make eventing safer for both horses and riders. In addition to performing data analysis to identify risk factors for horse falls, Heather investigated optimal cardiac monitoring techniques for horses and went on to record both horse and rider heart rate and heart rate variability during eventing competition. She also carried out psychological profiling of riders during competition to identify their emotional state and link this to performance and stress.
Heather’s 2023 study on horse falls in British Eventing competition was the largest scientific study ever published on the subject, it was featured in several equestrian media outlets and attracted global attention as such. Heather and the team she works with have completed safety-focussed projects for the FEI, British Eventing and Equestrian Australia, with a number of new research projects currently underway. In addition to her work in eventing sport, Heather is also currently involved in more general research projects in the field of equine physiology, cognition and rider biomechanics.
Heather has written for The Conversation as an expert academic and is a member of the Animal Welfare Research Network and the International Society for Applied Ethology. She is also an expert reviewer for The Veterinary Record and the Equine Veterinary Journal for research in the field of equine sports medicine.
LISTEN to a Podcast with Heather >>> Podcast – Interview with Dr Heather Cameron-Whytock – Making eventing safer for our horses