Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2017


Clark Cotton


The purpose of this analysis was to compare measures of total and regional body composition using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in NCAA Division I collegiate equestrian athletes to a group of age, sex and BMI-matched non-athlete, college students. Thirty-one female collegiate equestrian athletes were matched to a population of normal, non-athlete college students by age (19.8±0.2 vs. 19.8±0.2 yrs.), body mass index (22.3±0.4 vs. 22.6±0.4 kg/m2), and ethnicity. Total and regional fat tissue mass (FM), lean tissue mass (LM), bone mineral density (BMD), and abdominal visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were measured by DXA. Paired t-tests assessed total and regional differences between equestrian athletes and controls. In female equestrian athletes, there were no significant differences found in total FM, total LM, and VAT compared to the controls. However, equestrian athletes when compared to the controls had significantly higher Leg FM (7.0± 0.3 kg vs. 8.0±0.4 kg) and Leg LM (1.4± 0.4 kg vs. 1.3±0.3 kg) (p<0.05). Within the equestrian group, there was no significant difference in regional or total BMD, FM, LM, and VAT mass between Hunt Seat and Western-style riders. The lower total percent body fat in equestrian athletes seems to be influenced by differences in leg composition with equestrian athletes having significantly more lean mass and less fat mass in comparison to the controls. These results are consistent with the role the legs play in horseback riding and demonstrate an effect of either training or horseback riding on body composition compared to matched controls.

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