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Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs

Reader in Equine and Human Biomechanics
School of Sport and Health Sciences

Sarah is a research lead for the university in sport and exercise. With particular expertise in equine biomechanics, she has developed local and international equine research collaborations over decades. Her research has led to the development of standard methods for testing equine surfaces and raised awareness in factors that influence horse and rider welfare and performance. She supervises doctoral students and teaches sports biomechanics at postgraduate and undergraduate levels.

Since 2016, Sarah has had the responsibility of leading Unit of Assessment 24: Sport, Exercise Leisure and Tourism. In this role, Sarah works with staff within the unit of assessment to coordinate, assess and improve the quality of outputs and impact case studies and develop the unit’s environment statement. Having an overview of the staff and research within the unit of assessment provided an opportunity to bring together Professors, Readers and staff conducting research in applied sport, physical activity and performance under one roof. Sarah has worked with these staff to develop an approach that will continue to strengthen research and impact within this area going forwards. Sarah also leads Research and Consultancy in Equine Surfaces (RACES) for the university, as well as other strong international research collaborations in equine biomechanics, and an impact case study in equine health, welfare and performance.

The impact case study includes her work as first author on the ‘Equine Surfaces White Paper’ published by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) in 2014. Sarah has supervised sports biomechanics, equine biomechanics, and farriery research students since 2007. Her teaching on applied sports biomechanics continues to be part of her role for the university.

Sarah began her teaching role at the University of Central Lancashire in 2000, having just graduated from a BEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering degree (first class honours). She taught on a range of sports biomechanics, mechanics and materials modules for sports science and technology students. She continued to study, gaining teaching and supervisory qualifications, and in 2007, she gained a PhD in equine biomechanics. Her work involved developing instrumentation to measure internal hoof strain and three dimensional motion capture techniques to track motion of horse's forelimbs. Over two decades her teaching role and responsibilities changed from module delivery, module leadership and course leadership to research focussed. She presented her PhD work at the International Conference on Equine Locomotion, Michigan, USA, in 2004, and this led to an invitation to present at the Havemeyer Symposium in Costa Rica in 2006, and subsequently a long-standing collaboration with Professor Hilary Clayton, which continues today. By 2012, Sarah was involved in research related to testing equine arena surfaces and she and a team from Myerscough College assisted in the development of a surface for London 2012. Since then, she has worked with the FEI and an international team of researchers to develop standard methods of testing surfaces. She was promoted to reader in 2014 in recognition of her research work.

  • PGCert Research Supervision, University of Central Lancashire, 2009
  • PhD Equine Biomechanics, University of Central Lancashire, 2007
  • PGCert Learning and Teaching in HE, University of Central Lancashire, 2002
  • BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, University of Central Lancashire, 2000
  • IMechE Semi-finalist, Queens Silver Jubilee Competition, (presentation skills for young engineers), 2000
  • IMechE Fredrick Barnes Walden Prize 'Regional Best Student', 2000
  • IMechE The Institution Best Student, for achievement of First Class Grades, 1998
  • IMechE Fredrick Barnes Walden Prize for Academic Performance, 1997
  • Institute of Materials Lecture Competition, Area Winner, (Class 3) ‘Recycling Plastics’, 1997
  • The Women’s Engineering Society, Lady Finniston Awardee for outstanding academic achievement, 1996
  • Biomechanics of equine gait
  • Equine surface mechanics and hoof-horse-surface interactions
  • Rider posture, flexibility, strength and balance
  • Horse/rider interactions
  • Hoof structure, growth and mechanics
  • Scientific advisor, Footing Committee, FEI
  • Animals editorial board member
  • Equine Veterinary Journal review panel member
  • British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences member
  • ASTM International member