Ladies, are you being properly supported???? Photo via Shutterstock.

Headlines appearing on the website of the UK’s Telegraph today include this, in the science section: “Female horseriders who fail to wear sports bras could be stressing animals.” I have some questions.


The article reports on a survey out of Portsmouth University, which concludes that, “that fewer than one in five women regularly wore a sports bra for riding.” Apparently, your horse can tell that you have been, shall we say, improperly attired.

Dr Jenny Burbage, of the Department of Sport and Exercise Science said: “A correctly fitting bra for exercise is essential, as an incorrect fit can contribute to upper body musculoskeletal problems, poor posture and deep bra furrows in the shoulder caused by excessive strap pressure.

“The physical application of cues to the horse relies on good postural control by the rider, which can be negatively impacted by pain or discomfort leading to postural asymmetry.

“The ridden horse is trained to respond to subtle cues given by the rider’s body, but as a species can detect and respond to physiological changes that the rider may be unaware of.”

The Telegraph notes that, “A previous study has shown that horse heart rate increases as a direct response to tension in the handler or rider.”


Here is some additional information I would appreciate receiving:

  • How are four out of five women horseback riding without sufficiently supportive bras? Doesn’t it hurt?
  • How large is the horseback riding scene in the UK that this seemed not just worthy of study, but also worthy of news coverage?
  • How fancy is this horseback riding scene, on a scale of “down at the local barn” to “Jilly Cooper’s Riders”? If very fancy, again, why don’t these women own the latest advances in sports bra technology?
  • Do the horses really care though?
  • Has that statistic about the percentage of women wearing the wrong bra size gone so insanely viral that we’re now subject to concerned feedback from horses?

I await clarification on these points. Thanks very much.