Nearly a million women could be suffering from uncomfortable breast pain while horse riding, according to a new study.
Forty percent of the 1,324 women riders surveyed said they had experienced breast pain while riding, with the most painful activity being the sitting trot.
The study, by the University of Portsmouth and Sparsholt College, found breast pain was the fourth greatest barrier to women riding.
The other impediments were not having enough energy, a lack of time and work commitments.
Three-quarters of Britain’s 2.7m riders are female, meaning around 800,000 women in the UK could be suffering from breast pain caused by the activity.
Just over half the respondents were classed as having a large bust, with a cup size of D or above.
Women with a larger chest were found to suffer more, with 21 percent of the respondents reporting that the pain affected their performance.
Dr Jenny Burbage, a senior lecturer in sports biomechanics at the University of Portsmouth, told Horse and Hound magazine: “We have evidence now that breast pain is quite prevalent in the riding population.”
The university’s Research Group in Breast Health is trying to establish whether there is a link between good breast support and good riding.
The problem is not confined to horse riding. A study last year by the same research group found one in five women are put off exercise because of their breasts.
Tennis star Simona Halep had breast reduction surgery at the age of 17 to take her from a size 34DD to 34C.
She has said of her performance on the court before the operation: “My ability to react quickly was worse and my breasts made me uncomfortable.”