Article

Science in brief: Interactions between the rider, the saddle and the horse

Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
Equine Veterinary Journal (Impact Factor: 2.37). 01/2013; 45(1):3-4. DOI: 10.1111/evj.12006
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Saddle pads are widely used in riding sports but their influence on saddle pressures is poorly understood. To evaluate the forces acting on the horse's back, and the eventual pressure distribution by using different saddle pads underneath a fitting saddle. Sixteen sound horses of different breeds and ages were ridden on a treadmill at walk and sitting trot. The horses were wearing a dressage saddle with a fitting saddle tree and 4 different saddle pads (gel, leather, foam and reindeer fur) successively. For comparison, measurements were made without any saddle pad. Right forelimb motion was used to synchronise the pressure data with the stride cycles. A pressure mat was used under the saddle pad to collect the kinetic data. Maximum overall force (MOF) and the pressure distribution in longitudinal and transversal direction were calculated to identify differences between the measurements with and without saddle pads. A significant decrease in MOF was interpreted as improved saddle fit, and a significant increase as worsened saddle fit. Only the reindeer fur pad significantly decreased the MOF from 1005 N to 796 N at walk and from 1650 N to 1437 N at trot compared to without pad measurements. None of the saddle pads increased the MOF significantly when compared to the data without saddle pad. The pressure distribution in longitudinal and transversal direction was also improved significantly only by the reindeer fur pad at trot compared to no pad. This study demonstrated that a well chosen saddle pad can reduce the load on the horse's back and therefore improve the suitability of a fitting saddle.
    Equine Veterinary Journal 03/2010; 42(2):114-8. DOI:10.2746/042516409X475382 · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Saddle-fit is recognised as an important factor in the pathogenesis of back problems in horses and is empirically being evaluated by pressure measurements in clinical practice, although not much is known about the validity, reliability and usability of these devices in the equine field. This study was conducted to assess critically a pressure measurement system marketed for evaluating saddle fit. Validity was tested by calculating the correlation coefficient between total measured pressure and the weight of 28 different riders. Reliability and discriminative power with respect to different saddle fitting methods were evaluated in a highly standardised, paired measurement set-up in which saddle-fit was quantified by air-pressure values inside the panels of the saddle. Total pressures under the saddle correlated well with riders' weight. A large increase in over-day sensor variation was found. Within trial intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) were excellent, but the between trial ICCs varied from poor to excellent and the variation in total pressure was high. In saddles in which the fit was adjusted to individual asymmetries of the horse, the pressure measurement device was able to detect correctly air-pressure differences between the two panels in the back area of the saddle, but not in the front area. The device yielded valid results, but was only reliable in highly standardised conditions. The results question the indiscriminate use of current saddle pressure measurement devices for the quantitative assessment of saddle-fit under practical conditions and suggest that further technical improvement may be necessary.
    The Veterinary Journal 10/2006; 172(2):265-73. DOI:10.1016/j.tvjl.2005.05.009 · 2.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As there is no statistical evidence that saddle fit influences the load exerted on a horse's back, this study was performed to assess the hypothesis that the width of the tree significantly alters the pressure distribution on the back beneath the saddle. Nineteen sound horses were ridden at walk and trot on a treadmill with three saddles differing only in tree width. Kinetic data were recorded by a sensor mat. A minimum of 14 motion cycles were used in each trial. The saddles were classified into four groups depending on fit. For each horse, the saddle with the lowest overall force (LOF) was determined. Saddles were classified as "too-narrow" if they were one size (2 cm) narrower than the LOF saddle, and "too-wide" if they were one size (2 cm) wider than the LOF saddle. Saddles two sizes wider than LOF saddles were classified as "very-wide". In the group of narrow saddles, the pressure in the caudal third (walk 0.63 N/cm(2)+/-0.10; trot 1.08 N/cm(2)+/-0.26) was significantly higher compared to the LOF saddles (walk 0.50 N/cm(2)+/-0.09; trot 0.86 N/cm(2)+/-0.28). In the middle transversal third, the pressure of the wide saddles (walk 0.73 N/cm(2)+/-0.06; trot 1.52 N/cm(2)+/-0.19) and very-wide saddles (walk 0.77 N/cm(2)+/-0.06; trot 1.57 N/cm(2)+/-0.19) was significantly higher compared to LOF saddles (walk 0.65 N/cm(2)+/-0.10/ 0.63 N/cm(2)+/-0.11; trot 1.33 N/cm(2)+/-0.22/1.27 N/cm(2)+/-0.20). This study demonstrates that the load under poorly fitting saddles is distributed over a smaller area than under properly fitting saddles, leading to potentially harmful pressures peaks.
    The Veterinary Journal 06/2007; 173(3):578-84. DOI:10.1016/j.tvjl.2006.02.005 · 2.17 Impact Factor