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Equestrianism is part of a global industry influenced by a rich history of over 4000 years of culture and tradition. As the only interspecies Olympic event, equestrianism is facing negative public perceptions of competition performance and traditional coaching practices. In this position paper, we propose a constraints-led approach as a framework for contemporising equestrian coaching practice. Ecological dynamics is the theoretical framework that underpins a constraints-led approach methodology, providing guiding principles that inform a nonlinear pedagogy in sport and physical education. A constraints-led approach focuses on the individual (organism/s), task and environmental constraints acting over multiple nested timescales and what this means for how behaviour emerges. Using examples from the equestrian discipline of showjumping, we outline how a constraints-led approach can inform coaching behaviour and practice design to support skill acquisition through co-adaptations in the horse-rider dyad system. By focussing on the horse-rider dyad as a complex system, there is a move away from a human-centric perspective of compliance and control of the horse, toward system agency and intentionality in problem solving. Practice design principles of intention, representativeness, constraints manipulation and functional variability support the dyad to co-adapt and interact effectively through practice to achieve performance goals. Skilful performance is developed through attunement to perceptual information that invites opportunities for action (affordances). Understanding the development of affordance perception in the horse-rider dyad could guide the application of a constraints-led approach to equestrian coaching practice.
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Cant jump, wont jump: Affordances of the
horse-rider dyad underpin skill adaptation
in showjumping using a constraints-led
Marianne Davies
, Joseph A Stone
, Keith Davids
Jane Williams
, and Mark OSullivan
Equestrianism is part of a global industry inuenced by a rich history of over 4000 years of culture and tradition. As the
only interspecies Olympic event, equestrianism is facing negative public perceptions of competition performance and
traditional coaching practices. In this position paper, we propose a constraints-led approach as a framework for contem-
porising equestrian coaching practice. Ecological dynamics is the theoretical framework that underpins a constraints-led
approach methodology, providing guiding principles that inform a nonlinear pedagogy in sport and physical education. A
constraints-led approach focuses on the individual (organism/s), task and environmental constraints acting over multiple
nested timescales and what this means for how behaviour emerges. Using examples from the equestrian discipline of
showjumping, we outline how a constraints-led approach can inform coaching behaviour and practice design to support
skill acquisition through co-adaptations in the horse-rider dyad system. By focussing on the horse-rider dyad as a complex
system, there is a move away from a human-centric perspective of compliance and control of the horse, toward system
agency and intentionality in problem solving. Practice design principles of intention, representativeness, constraints
manipulation and functional variability support the dyad to co-adapt and interact effectively through practice to achieve
performance goals. Skilful performance is developed through attunement to perceptual information that invites opportun-
ities for action (affordances). Understanding the development of affordance perception in the horse-rider dyad could guide
the application of a constraints-led approach to equestrian coaching practice.
Equestrian coaching, ecological dynamics, perception-action coupling
Equestrianism is part of a global industry with an estimated
economic impact of $300 billion per annum. Despite
including three Olympic disciplines, as well as a higher pro-
portion of disabled, female, and over 45-year-old partici-
pants than any other sport,
there is little published
research currently exploring pedagogy and coaching prac-
tice in equestrian sports and activities. A signicant charac-
teristic of equestrianism is the performance partnership
between a horse and a human: a complex adaptive system
formed by two animate components with different percep-
tual, motivational, and communication characteristics.
Successful equestrian performance has been described as
highly embodied, and synchronous, capturing the aspirations
of riders to become centaur-like in their relationship with their
Indeed, ethnographic accounts of riders capture
experiences of co-being, co-creating behaviour and a sensation
of feeling part of the animal.
Further, skilful performance
has been described using metaphors from music (e.g. rhythmic
harmonisation, accentuation).
Despite these insights alluding
Reviewer: Duarte Araujo (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre, Shefeld Hallam University,
Department of Equine Science, Hartpury University, UK
Corresponding author:
Marianne Davies, Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre, Shefeld
Hallam University, Shefeld S1 1WB, UK.
Research note
International Journal of Sports Science
& Coaching
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/17479541221107379
to collaborative partnerships, traditional approaches to training
and coaching in equestrianism emphasise a hierarchical rela-
tionship between rider and horse, typically characterised by
methods demanding equine compliance and obedience.
Increasingly, animal rights groups
frame equestrianism as
inherently abusive in nature, primarily due to the lack of
agency of the horse.
review on
equine learned helplessness concluded that, there is little
doubt that the techniques and devices used in the training and
riding/driving of horses, as well as during their management,
have the potential to place horses in a situation where they
could develop this phenomenon(p. 263).
In this position piece, we examine how a contemporary
currentunderpinningtheories before outlininghowecological
supportingskilladaptation through the use of aconstraints-led
Theoretical underpinnings of traditional
practice in equestrianism
Traditional training and coaching methodologies are under-
pinned by two main theories of performance, cognition and
learning with incompatible ontological roots.
behaviourist theories from the late 1800s and early 1900s
focus on learning being formed outside of the individual
through external reinforcement and rote repetition.
Behaviourism underpins the traditional instructional prac-
tice of humans
and the training of all animals, including
Promoting the notion that learning is a passive
process, based on conditioned responses to environmental
stimuli, behaviourism ignores the organismsagency in
learning experiences. Behaviourism is still the main under-
pinning theoretic framework used for training the horse
through reward, reinforcement and punishment to recognise
and obey commands issued by the rider.
As Blokhuis
and Lundgren [p. 4] emphasise horses are seen more as
objects responding to humansinitiatives that subjects inter-
acting with humans.
Secondly, supporting the coaching of
riders, current UK coaching qualications espouse both
behaviourist (framed as coach-led) and constructivist
(framed as student-led) informed coaching styles.
Constructivism posits that learning is an active process con-
structed in the mind of the individual in response to their
experiences, separating the organism and environment
during interactions.
However, particularly with novice
riders, coaching behaviour typically comprises a coach
stood on the ground providing explicit instructions based
on optimaltechniques and what the coach believes the
rider needs to do to improve performance.
This learning
approach results in the rider being passive, rather than
active, in knowledge construction.
In conjunction with other sports, training methods have
become dominated by an inherent focus on error-correcting
toward idealised form and technique.
This is likely a
result of coaching pedagogy and qualications predicated on
behaviourist and/or constructivist learning theories, combined
with information processing theories of skill acquisition that
focus on attaining correctmovement techniques.
In equestri-
anism, an unintended consequence may be the use of controlling
and restrictive training aids and gadgets in practice (e.g. draw
reins and severe bits). While research has led to some positive
changes to competition rules,
many banned practices
prevail outside competition due to beliefs about how horses
learn to become skilful. In summary, a lack of a coherent, con-
temporary theoretical framework for understanding learning
and skill adaptation in both organisms, combined with a human-
centric perspective, underlie traditional ideas and coaching
pedagogies underpinning practices in equestrianism.
Ecological dynamics and nonlinear
pedagogy: A contemporary framework for
using a CLA for coaching in equestrianism
To negate the issues outlined in the section Theoretical
underpinnings of traditional practice in equestrianism,we
propose ecological dynamics as a framework for under-
standing skill adaptation in equestrian practice, which pro-
vides a fusion of ecological psychology and dynamical
systems theory.
Ecological psychology
avoids an
organismic asymmetry (favouring internalised, mental
explanations for behaviour localised within the brain of
an organism).
Rather, it proposes that all organisms
have evolved to perceive and progressively develop sensi-
tivity to surrounding information in their environment that
informs the continuous regulation of their behavioural inter-
Opportunities available to the organism invit-
ing actions and interactions within the environment
(termed affordances) emphasise the meaning of the envir-
onment for the organism, and the value of the information
for facilitating goal-directed movement.
The process of
becoming skilfully attuned to perceptual information that
supports such opportunities for action results in tighter
coupling of perception and action sub-systems with prac-
From an ecological perspective, an organisms inter-
actions with its environment are conceived as the
appropriate scale of analysis for understanding behaviour,
due to the inextricably entwined nature of cognition, per-
ception and action.
Originating in mathematics with notable early applica-
tions to weather forecasting, ecology,
and later to quadru-
ped coordination dynamics and gait transitions,
2International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching 0(0)
systems theory explains coordination behaviours in complex
adaptive systems, such as horses and humans. The horse-
rider dyad, considered as a bio-tensegrity system, is an
example of a haptically coupled (emphasizing information
from compression, touch and pressure), complex dynamical
Bio-tensegrity systems, like horse-rider dyads,
maintain stability through a balance of pre-compression
and tension, allowing the perception and communication
of pressure and touch through the distortion of the pre-
tensioned structures such as muscles, bones, facia, liga-
ments, tendons and even cell membranes.
understanding the integration of perception, action, decision
making and cognition. Dynamical systems theory seeks to
explain how movement organisation, adaptation and control
emergesfrom acomplexadaptivesystem withmanydegreesof
freedom that need to be (re)organised (e.g. muscles, limbs,
joints, facia, neurons).
Ecological dynamicists rationalise
how complex systems interact with challenging performance
exploiting intentions and harnessing cognition, to make deci-
In nonlinear pedagogy, the focus of coaching moves
away from the notion of training of idealised, putatively
correcttechniques with linear progressions.
Instead, the
guiding principles of nonlinear pedagogy support coaches
and support staff in becoming practice activity designers,
acknowledging that behaviours of horses and riders need to
be considered in horse-rider dyads, continuously inuenced
by multiple interacting constraints. This perspective recog-
nises the nonlinearity of emergent skilful behaviours in
adaptation to a performance environment. Coaches and
support staff can use a CLA to facilitate the co-adaptation
of the horse-human dyad in the process of becoming an
integrated, skilful system (see Figure 1).
Using the practice design principles of intentionality,
representativeness, constraints manipulation, and functional
variability, the horse-rider dyad system becomes attuned to
shared affordances in realising goal-directed behaviours.
The horse-rider dyadic system
Supporting ethnographic accounts of embodied centaur-
like experiences,
research examining horse-rider perform-
ance has repeatedly shown that experienced riders are bio-
mechanically coupled and synchronous (in-phase) with the
movements of their horses.
These studies postulate that
skilled riders coordinate and couple their movements with
the horse through their capacity to anticipate, attune to,
and use, perceptual information from their continuous inter-
actions as a dyad.
The co-adaptation of the horse and
rider is hypothesised to be integral to both learning and per-
formance, learning from each other as they become attuned
to the affordances available to the horse-rider dyad as an
informationally coupled system.
Phenomenology has been used as a method to focus on
the lived experiences of the rider and horse in their interspe-
cies relationship during riding.
research highlights that rider perceptions are not those of
mastery over, but reciprocity of learning and becoming
one with the horse.
The notion of becoming one
aligns well with an ecological dynamics perspective of
the dyad functioning as a single complex adaptive
system, in which both components need to become
attuned to surrounding information and shared affordances
in performance. Maustrad et al.
[p. 326] assert that horse-
human communication crosses the species divide through
somatic attunements and attentions that are partly about
uncovering and discovering what bodies do, and partly
about taking control of them, creating and making sense
of body kinetics. Pressure from touch as a channel of inter-
species communication through haptic perception to con-
tinuously regulate co-adaptive actions may provide a
theoretical explanation for the elusive concept of feelin
equestrianism. Ecological dynamics proposes that inten-
tionality and emotions in the dyadic system can be chan-
nelled through haptic information.
For example, haptic
information can inform the horse of a riders intentions,
such as to turn left or speed up. Riders can learn to feel a
horses emotions and intentions in jumping over a barrier.
Using the practice design principles of a
CLA for coaching showjumping
Showjumping competitions comprise a set course of knock-
down jumps of specied dimensions, with specic rules
about distances, speed, course time limits and number of
With practice and experience, the two separate
animate systems (horse and rider) need to become attuned
to critical information sources that have value and
meaning for perceiving affordances (opportunities for
action) such as jump-abilityand time-to-contactwith a
fence. Some information sources that the horse-rider
dyadic system becomes attuned to with practice when
approaching a jump, include surface terrain and incline,
obstacle shape, orientation, height, appropriate take-off dis-
tances, speed and stride length approaching the obstacle,
and probability of success.
In the following sections we
will expand on the four practice design principles of a CLA.
Session intention
Nonlinear pedagogy informs the design of practice activities
that are meaningful in terms of the riders goals, realised
through horse-rider dyadic interactions with movement chal-
lenges and problems. The horse-rider dyad engages in
problem solving through attending to shared goals, affordances
and specifying information. To achieve this aim, the perform-
ance of the dyadic system in performance and practice should
Davies et al. 3
be based on making decisions and calibrating actions, rather
than just passively responding to coach instructions.
Manipulating constraints of practice environments is a key to
enrich the performance of the dyadic system.
Constraints manipulation: Supporting
Constraints are informational sources that act as boundaries,
shaping performance over multiple nested timescales.
Categorised as organismic, task and environmental, con-
straints shape or guide the (re)organisation of behaviour in
complex systems.
In showjumping there is a rich tradition
of using task constraints such as positioning poles to create
ground lines, llers, grids (lines of jumps),
and equipment
use, such as draw reins, side reins and martingales to con-
strain horse movements. However, using constraints in
this way is not always the same as using a CLA to facilitate
horse-dyad learning interactions. A CLA is a theoretically
informed methodology for designing practice activities,
using principles of a nonlinear pedagogy, predicated on
key concepts in ecological dynamics.
By manipulating
constraints, coaches seek to design practice activities that
dampen affordances for movement solutions that are less
functional and amplify affordances that are more functional,
without prescribing movement solutions.
Using poles on the ground to facilitate a horse to adapt
stride length and speed when navigating obstacles different
distances apart would be aligned with principles of a CLA.
However, using poles to dictate exactly where a horse can
take off over a jump would not be, because the horse is
entrained to the information from the poles to calibrate
the approach phase. The horse-rider system is no longer
able to explore, calibrate, learn and adapt, using multiple
sources of information. Examples of effective constraints
used in showjumping include building courses with
shorter related distances between the jumps to encourage
a short and bouncy more powerful canter, or putting up
poles in a cross shape or at the sides of a jump to invite a
straight jump.
Essentially constraints manipulation
needs to support information movement coupling.
Practices such as rapping, used to condition horses to
make an idealised forelimb shape and be more careful, fol-
lowing punishment or a perceived increase of propriocep-
tion, continue because they are believed to be effective.
Figure 1. A constraints-led approach for skill acquisition in the horse-rider dyad.
4International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching 0(0)
However, an ecological perspective suggests that these
practices are likely to compromise the development of
informationmovement coupling in horses.
Rather than
supporting long-term skill adaptation, the horse will learn
that it cannot trust the perceptual information offered by a
jump, despite any actions it decides to take.
Each level of Showjumping competition has shared rules
and characteristics, including maximum jump heights,
related and overall distances, course complexity, and time
Instead of de-contextualising practice, a CLA
encourages the use of practice activities that are representa-
tive of competition demands. These include such things as
jumping on multiple surfaces, with an audience, back-
ground noise and other distractions, in addition to task
manipulations such as changing jump combinations, and
variations of speed, stride length and approach angles.
This does not mean that practice needs to always simulate
full competition conditions. Rather, the information that
species movement (re)organisation in competition needs
to be present in practice sessions.
The importance of self-organisation and the need for adapt-
ability have been highlighted in many sports involving a
run-up to a target.
Research in long-jump elucidates the indi-
viduality of gait regulation distributed across run-ups, particu-
larly in relation to environmental constraints such as wind
strength and direction.
Key ndings note that run-ups
cannot be split into distinct phases, and take-off is not just a
position of a footfall, but the orientation of the whole body
such that it can be propelled upward and forward.
The impli-
cations of this information for equine showjumping practice
would be to design training activities that are high in context-
specicity such as jump specications, speed over the ground,
the distance between jumps, number of jumps, and course
length. This representativeness provides the horse-rider
system opportunities to search for, explore and exploit key
information for calibrating gait adaptations to take-off.
Functional variability
Functional variability relates to the principle of repetition of
outcome without repetition of solution. Research in spring-
board diving
highlighted the negative implications of
practising only perfect run-ups (hurdle steps). In competi-
tion, divers can incur penalties if unable to adapt to imper-
fect run-ups, lacking the ability to recover from
perturbations. In showjumping, this practice design might
include varying starting positions, lines, rhythms, speed,
and angles once a stable outcome becomes established,
then varying task and environmental constraints such as
jump types, weather, light, inclines and surfaces without
prescribing idealised movement biomechanics.
Focus on affordance perception: Cant
jump, wont jump
Language is powerful in creating and maintaining cultural
norms, practices, and behaviours.
In the United
Kingdom, problematic and deeply enculturated language
is used to describe horses as well as our interactions and
relationships with them. For example, horses are regularly
described as being honest,naughty,lazy,bombproof,
needing to be squared-up,kicked-onor taught some
respect.Anhonest horseis a horse that is obedient to
commands or cues and will jump when demanded, even
if the rider has made an error, or if the horse does not per-
ceive an affordance to jump that a rider does. Incidences
such as the eventing horse Raphael jumping into a clearly
unjumpable barrier during the Pau CCI5* in 2019,
light the potential dangers of training a horse to trust or fear
the rider, rather than utilising their own perceived affor-
dances to jump successfully.
An important change would be to move away from pun-
ishing horses for stopping or running out at jumps, toward
designing more sophisticated jumping practice environ-
ments. Practice needs to support the education of the horse
and riders systemic intentions, attention and (re)calibration
of information perception and movement. By forcing the
horse to choose between jumping or being punished, to
obey cues from a rider instead of acting on perceived affor-
dances through specifying information, there is a failure to
consider that the horse is an organism that has evolved
with acute direct perception of relevant information for
action from its environment, related to its internal dynamics
and action capabilities. By attempting to thwart the horses
affordance realisation, the rider is over-riding system func-
tionality through attunement to shared affordances that
harness the horses action-capabilities
In summary, if horse-rider systems need to move with
intentionality to become skilful, there is a necessity for
both components to be able to calibrate to the challenge
of negotiating different obstacles over different surfaces
and inclines in different environmental conditions.
Practice designs in equestrianism require the provision
of opportunities for the dyadic system to engage in, and
solve, movement problems and challenges. Movement
problems in practice need to be representative of competi-
tive performance goals, to have meaning and value.
Above all, practice designs should aim to facilitate adapt-
ability and (re)calibration of perception and action in the
horse-rider system. Coach and rider expectations may
require a re-evaluation of what may be misconceived
horse disobedience, potentially due to a riders inaccur-
ate or badly timed cues, based on poor perception and
misuse of affordances. A major aim of practice in eques-
trianism is to facilitate skilled intentionality and percep-
tionaction coupling in the horse-rider system (will
jump, can jump!).
Davies et al. 5
Conclusion and further research directions
In this paper, we proposed an ecological dynamics rationale
for skill adaptation as a way forward in contemporising
equestrian coaching practice. From this perspective, becom-
ing skilful is a process of attuning to emerging affordances
for action available within a performance landscape
shaped by individual organismic, task and environmental
constraints. Through self-directed intentional interactions
with these affordances, changes in action capabilities
(coordination and capacity) invite the possibility of further
An ecological conceptualisation of skill adap-
tation suggests a need to shift the role of coaches and support
staff from being solution providers to learning environment
designers, using constraints manipulation to support percep-
tionaction coupling and attunement to affordances offered
within organismenvironment interactions.
Effective and sophisticated practice design in showjump-
ing requires an understanding of the performance demands
and the shared affordances that skilled showjumping
dyads need to become attuned to for successful perform-
These affordances are likely to be a mixture of
opportunities offered both toand bythe horse as part of
the embodied dyadic partnership, and affordances for goal
achievement developed through the experience of shared
system affordances, such as time-to-contact and jumpability.
Further research is needed to understand the implications
and effectiveness of adopting a CLA in equestrian sports
along with the challenges and opportunities that coaches are
likely to face. Other potential areas of research include
attempting to identify the specifying information sources
that are used as affordances for jumping by horses and the
range of coordination strategies for calibration of movement
toward affordance realisation, with and without riders.
Research in these areas would support coaching and training
practice and, potentially the design of safer jumping courses.
Finally, further research is needed to understand how the
dyadic horse-rider system can reconcile the need for an
agency of both partners whilst still ensuring both human
and equine safety. To achieve this aim, there is a need for
the human partner in the dyadic system to become a
better haptic communicator, enhancing their attunement to
the horses needs and affordance perception.
Declaration of conicting interests
The authors declared no potential conicts of interest with respect
to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The authors received no nancial support for the research, author-
ship, and/or publication of this article.
Marianne Davies
Joseph A Stone
Keith Davids
OSullivan Mark
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The aim of this article is to provide a concise overview of the theoretical assumptions of behaviorism, which generally informs “traditional” approaches to sport coaching. B.F. Skinner's (1904–1990) theory of operant conditioning is discussed, alongside considerations for sport coaching practice. For coaches who draw upon the principles of Skinner's theory of operant conditioning, four reflective questions are posed. This article does not attempt to present behaviorism or Skinner's work as superior or inferior to any other theory of learning. Rather, this article is founded on the belief that sport coaches would benefit from a greater understanding of their assumptions about learning, enabling them to make more informed choices and modifications to their practice.
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Nonlinear contemporary coaching approaches are becoming more prominent in academic research, although there is still limited take-up by sports practitioners. Research has investigated why coaches continue to use traditional reproductive pedagogical approaches. However, there is limited understanding of insights and experiences of sports coaches who have switched to contemporary approaches in practice. This study aimed to: (i) explore insights of coaches who are adopting contemporary approaches to understand why they eschewed more traditional approaches and (ii) gain information on their experiences when implementing these contemporary approaches into their practice. To address these aims, 15 experienced professional individual and team sports coaches from a range of countries (i.e. Australia, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, UK, USA), were interviewed. Thematic analysis revealed 59 lower-order themes and 10 higher-order themes, organised into 3 dimensions; (i) factors underpinning the coaches’ approach to athlete learning; (ii) learning approaches; and (iii), responses to contemporary pedagogical approaches. Coaches reported a typical culture of traditional methods of learning within their sports, which they believed were not effective in developing athlete performance. Hence, they elected to adopt a contemporary non-linear, individualised, adaptive approach, emphasising representative learning designs. Results suggested that typical reactions to this approach included resistance from stakeholders. However, coaches continued to use this approach and expressed the importance of effective communication with stakeholders to enable acceptance of the contemporary approaches of learning. Findings suggest how continued integration between experiential and empirical knowledge of practitioners may increase the acceptance of contemporary pedagogical approaches, facilitating acceptance of new approaches to learning.
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Analysing performance in competitive environments enables identification of key constraints which shape behaviours, supporting designs of more representative training and learning environments. In this study, competitive performance of 244 elite level jumpers (male and female) was analysed to identify the impact of candidate individual, environmental and task constraints on performance outcomes. Findings suggested that key constraints shaping behaviours in long jumping were related to: individuals (e.g. particularly intended performance goals of athletes and their impact on future jump performance); performance environments (e.g. strength and direction of wind) and tasks (e.g. requirement for front foot to be behind foul line at take-off board to avoid a foul jump). Results revealed the interconnectedness of competitive performance, highlighting that each jump should not be viewed as a behaviour in isolation, but rather as part of a complex system of connected performance events which contribute to achievement of competitive outcomes. These findings highlight the potential nature of the contribution of performance analysis in competitive performance contexts. They suggest how practitioners could design better training tasks, based on key ecological constraints of competition, to provide athletes with opportunities to explore and exploit functional intentions and movement solutions high in contextual specificity.
Dynamics of Skill Acquisition, Second Edition, provides an analysis of the processes underlying human skill acquisition. As the first text to outline the multidisciplinary ecological dynamics framework for understanding movement behavior, this heavily updated edition stays on the cutting edge, with principles of nonlinear pedagogy and methodologies from the constraints-led approach. Students and practitioners across a variety of professions—including coaches, physical educators, trainers, and rehabilitation specialists—will appreciate the applied focus of this second edition. Movement models throughout the text provide examples for visualizing task constraints and enhancing the study and understanding of movement behavior. Athletes and sports teams are presented as specific complex adaptive systems, with information on designing learning environments and adapting programs to foster skill development. Readers will learn the historical evolution of dynamical systems theory and the ecological dynamics framework. These foundational concepts illustrate the integration between intentional action, cognition, and decision making and their effects on performance and behavior. Complex theoretical concepts are explained in simple terms and related to practice, focusing on the implications of the work of pioneering researchers such as Nikolai Bernstein, Egon Brunswik, James Gibson, Scott Kelso, and Karl Newell. Case studies written by practitioners contain specific examples of the ecological dynamics framework in action, bringing theory to life. By learning how to identify and manipulate key constraints that influence learning skilled behavior, readers will gain insight into practice designs for creating positive learning experiences that enable individuals to develop and learn functional movements. Throughout the book, learning features guide readers through material with clear direction and focus to improve understanding. Spotlight on Research sidebars provide detailed descriptions of important studies to connect theory, research, and application. Lab activities teach application skills beyond the content, ensuring reader understanding. In addition, chapter objectives, self-test questions, and Key Concept sidebars highlight important concepts in each chapter. With the study of human movement now bridging many disciplines, including motor development, psychology, biology, and physical therapy, Dynamics of Skill Acquisition, Second Edition, provides a timely analysis of the ecological dynamics framework and presents a comprehensive model for understanding how coordination patterns are assembled, controlled, and acquired. The theoretical roots and development of the ecological dynamics framework provide application strategies for all people with an interest in movement coordination and control. AUDIENCE An upper-level undergraduate or graduate textbook for courses in human movement and skill acquisition. A professional reference for movement practitioners and scientists, including teachers, coaches, trainers, physical educators, physical therapists, rehabilitation specialists, sport scientists, psychologists, biomechanists, sport analysts and physiologists.
Bernstein's (1996) levels of movement organization includes tonus, the muscular-contraction level that primes individual movement systems for (re)organizing coordination patterns. The hypothesis advanced is that the tonus architecture is a multi-fractal tensegrity system, deeply reliant on haptic perception for regulating movement of an individual actor in a specific environment. Further arguments have been proposed that the tensegrity-haptic system is implied in all neurobiological perception and -action. In this position statement we consider whether the musculoskeletal system can be conceptualized as a neurobiological tensegrity system, supporting each individual in co-adapting to many varied contexts of dynamic performance. Evidence for this position, revealed in investigations of judgments of object properties, perceived during manual hefting, is based on each participant's tensegrity. The implication is that the background organizational state of every individual is unique, given that no neurobiological architecture (musculo-skeletal components) is identical. The unique tensegrity of every organism is intimately related to individual differences, channeling individualized adaptations to constraints (task, environment, organismic), which change over different timescales. This neurobiological property assists transitions from one stable state of coordination to another which is needed in skill adaptation during performance. We conclude by discussing how tensegrity changes over time according to skill acquisition and learning.
This qualitative study explored how riders perceive and understand the relationship with their horse. Participants included ten elite female riders with a mean age of 40.6 years, five of whom competed in Eventing and five in Dressage with an average of 30.9 years’ competitive experience, and their chosen horses (mean age: 11.8 years). The average duration for the relationship between horse and rider was 6.8 years. Each rider–horse combination completed a flatwork training session, which was video recorded. Riders were asked to watch their video back and provide a commentary of their direct (their own) and meta (their horse’s, as understood by the rider) perceptions of their interaction including descriptions of the characteristics that underpin the relationship. The riders’ verbal reports were transcribed in full, and then examined using a thematic analysis. The analysis was both deductive and inductive, a process known as abductive reasoning. The subthemes were generated inductively through initial coding and then afforded deductively to the rudimentary framework of the 4Cs model of quality relationships: Closeness, Commitment, Complementarity, and Co-orientation. Closeness represents individuals’ feelings, and subthemes included respect, trust, appreciation, and emotional bond. Commitment represents individuals’ thoughts, and subthemes included will, attentional focus, motivation, and effort. Complementarity represents behaviors, and subthemes included cooperation, reciprocity, support, and personality. Co-orientation represents mutual knowledge and understanding, and subthemes included self-awareness, shared knowledge, optimal learning, and empathic accuracy. Additionally, subthemes were induced to new themes outside of the rudimentary framework: Welfare, with subthemes of psychological wellbeing, physical wellbeing, and treatment/therapy, and Performance, with subthemes including groundwork, judgment, relaxation, and harmony. The overarching theme of Rider–Horse Psychophysiological Confidence underlined the importance of quality rider–horse relationships to performance and welfare, for both horse and rider. An adaptation of the 4Cs relationship model is offered as an educational framework for the rider–horse relationship and opportunities for future research are highlighted.