ArticlePDF Available

Measurement of the pressures exerted by saddles on the horse's back using a computerized pressure measuring device

Authors:

Abstract

Saddles contribute in a major way to the poor-performance syndrome. A great deal of money is spent trying to define poor performance, and the effects of the saddle are generally overlooked. Saddles create pressures greater than the capillary closure pressures in the skin and muscle, causing inflammation and pain which can cause performance problems. These pressures can be recorded with the horse in motion using computerized pressure sensing equipment. This study was conducted to document the effects of saddles on horses' backs in 30 clinical cases where performance problems were related to back pain and inadequate saddle fit. Performance problems, such as decreasing speed on the racetrack, resistance to work, or the horse being unable to round its back, affect many of the competition horses today and are a primary reason for horses to decline in value or be retired from competition.
... A correctly fitted saddle must accommodate the changing shape of a horse's back during variations in horse gait, from trot to canter and gallop, in addition to allowing the rider to remain a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 balanced [1]. Traditionally, horses are ridden with wooden tree saddles which have panels filled with wool-stuffed flocking to allow distribution of the rider's mass across the horse's back [2,3]. ...
... If a saddle is fitted incorrectly, this can result in detrimental consequences for the horse. This may include pain in the thoracolumbar region [2,4,5], tenderness and stiffness of the longissimus dorsi muscles [3], spine osseous pathology and muscle atrophy decreasing horse performance [6]. A saddle fitted incorrectly has been shown to cause an increase of imbalance in the horse's motion pattern [7]. ...
... Saddles with ΔT max values above 2˚C presented with rocking/bridging, front/back and right/left thermal pattern. Bridging has been identified as a major problem in saddle fit, where loading on the horse's back is concentrated in the front and back of the saddle [2] and it is potentially detrimental because it causes focal distribution of the rider's weight, rather than distributing it evenly over a larger area [4]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The impact of a rider's and saddle's mass on saddle thermal pattern distribution was evaluated using infrared thermography (IRT). Eighteen racehorses were ridden by four riders with their own saddle. Images of the saddle panels were captured at each of six thermographic examinations. On each image, six regions of interest (ROIs) were marked on the saddle panels. The mean temperature for each ROI was extracted. To evaluate the influence of load on saddle fit, 4 indicators were used: ΔTmax (difference between the mean temperature of the warmest and coolest ROI); standard deviation of the mean temperature of the six ROIs; right/left; bridging/rocking and front/back thermal pattern indicator. Incorrect saddle fit was found in 25 measurements (23.1%) with ΔTmax greater than 2°C. The relationships between rider and saddle fit as well as saddle fit and horse were significant (p<0.001). An average ΔTmax in rider A was significantly higher than in other riders (p<0.001). The right/left thermal pattern differed significantly from the optimal value for riders A and B; while the bridging/rocking thermal pattern differed significantly from this value for riders A, C and D (p<0.05). Front saddle thermal pattern was most frequent for rider A (41.5%), whereas back saddle thermal pattern was most frequent for rider C (85.7%). Measurement of the mean temperature in 6 ROIs on saddle panels after training was helpful in assessing the influence of rider and saddle mass on saddle fit. IRT offered a non-invasive, rapid and simple method for assessing load on thermal pattern distribution in race saddles.
... Harman (1994) first used a pressure measurement system for evaluation of interactions between horse and rider (saddle) about 10 years later. In the earlier studies, the systems used were custom made for the purpose of pressure measurements on the horse's back (Harman 1997). In the current studies, the most common systems used are two commercially manufactured systems: Pliance System (Novel GmbH, München, Germany), used to measure pressures with two pressure mats containing 224 (256) sensors of size 2.5 x 3.2 cm; and Force Sensing Array (FSA) technology (VERG, Inc., Winnipeg, Canada), with 256 sensors of varying sizes. ...
... The amplitude of pressure, used as a criterion for the proper fit of a saddle, varies between the individual authors. Harman (1997) mentioned that saddle pressures over 20 kPa indicate a poor-fitting saddle. Werner (2002) defined 30 kPa as an upper tolerated maximal pressure value in relation to back pain symptoms. ...
... Saddles creating pressures greater than the capillary closure pressure in the skin and muscles cause inflammation and pain, leading to performance problems (Harman 1997). Symptoms caused by back pain include reluctance to move when ridden and stiffness in lateral bending and dorso-ventral flexion. ...
Article
Full-text available
The use of systems for pressure measurement between the rider's body and the back of the horse is a relatively new procedure. The size and transfer of the load inside the horse-pad-saddle-rider system can be assessed in various ways. This paper provides a review of literature published from 1994 to 2010 that discusses using pressure mapping systems for measuring the contact load between the horse and its rider. Literature was obtained using common scientific databases such as Web of Science, SCOPUS and PubMed entering the key words: "horse", "pressure", and "back". The first published studies aimed to verify sensor parameters and to minimize animal- and operator-induced errors. In order to obtain valid and reliable data, it is important to perform pressure measurements under highly standardized conditions. Moreover using properly established guidelines for calibrating and placing sensors is crucial for receiving valid data. Subsequent studies focused on the influence of various types of saddles, pads, blankets and adjustments of saddle fit on the loading of the horse's back. Results of these studies showed that using pressure mapping systems provide a useful evaluation of the load applied to the area of contact between the horse and rider. A properly fitted saddle with a pad can serve as a shock absorber. Literature findings suggest that improving the fit of a saddle by using a saddle pad needs to be individually adapted for each horse and rider. Considering the current status of literature on the use of pressure mapping systems in horseback riding future research should concentrate on using data obtained by bio-mechanical modelling of contact surfaces, including their interactions; on determining a "normal pattern" of pressure distribution on the equine back; and on finding a way to include individual parameters of the horse and its rider into the overall assessment.
... In recent years, several pressure measurement devices for the objective evaluation of saddle-fit have become available. These systems have been used for the scientific evaluation of saddle pads (Harman, 1994(Harman, , 1997Pullin et al., 1996), different saddle brands (Werner et al., 2002) and saddles that were artificially made to be poorly fitting (Liswaniso, 2001). In equine practice and the saddlery industry, such devices are commonly used, as evaluation of saddle-fit using pressure measurement is thought to improve the quality of saddle-fit and provide a quantitative measure. ...
... To date, the validity of only one pressure measurement device has been evaluated (Jeffcott et al., 1999). Other researchers using pressure measurement devices have reported no information about validity, variability and reliability (Harman, 1994(Harman, , 1997Liswaniso, 2001;Pullin et al., 1996), or have failed to explain the high variability found in their study (Werner et al., 2002). These data are in contrast to work in the human field, where pressure measurement devices specially developed to test wheelchair seats have been evaluated under standardised conditions for hysteresis, creep, repeatability, response time and validity (Ferguson-Pell and Cardi, 1993;Ferguson-Pell et al., 2001;Nicholson et al., 2001). ...
Article
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 setup in which saddle-fit was quantified by air-pressure values inside the panels of the saddle. Total pressures under the saddle correlated well with ridersÕ 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.
... Ill-fitting saddles could often result in an uneven distribution of the rider's weight and could lead to back pain in the thoracolumbar region of horses due to excessive pressures (11,12,21). Saddle slip may also be an indication of an existing pathology, such as hind limb lameness (11). ...
... In the same study, it was indicated that motion variability was significantly lower with a correctly fitted saddle than an incorrectly fitted saddle. As suggested by Harman [3,10], an incorrectly fitted saddle has an influence on the horse's motion and the rider's seat. ...
Article
The aim of this study was to assess the influence of horse, saddle, and rider on saddle fit in racehorses by detecting pressure distribution using infrared thermography. In this study, 22 saddles used on 65 racing horses ridden by 21 riders were used. Data from horses including gender, breed, age, training intensity, and level of performance were collected. Type and mass of the saddle were also obtained, along with information about the rider's body mass and riding skills. Thermographic images of the saddle's panels were captured immediately after untacking the horse at each thermographic examination. On each thermographic image of the saddle panels, six regions of interest (ROIs) were marked, with mean temperature calculated within each ROI to indicate pressure distribution. Saddle fit was evaluated for right/left panel pressure, bridging/rocking pressure, and front/back pressure according to horse's: gender, breed, age, training intensity, level of conditioning, rider's skills, and load (saddle plus rider mass). There were statistically significant relationships (P <.05) between left/right asymmetry and age, training, intensity and load. In front/back pressure, there was a statistically significant relationship (P <.05) for load. No statistically significant relationships were observed between bridging/rocking pressure and the rest of the aforementioned variables. The study indicated that load, horse age, and training intensity influence pressure distribution in racing saddles. Therefore, animal age and load have to be considered in saddle fit. Infrared thermography has been confirmed as a useful tool in the evaluation of saddle fit in racing horses.
... A rosszul illeszkedő nyereg gyakran a lovas súlyának egyenlőtlen eloszlását okozza, és a ló hátágyéki tájékán fájdalom jelentkezik a túlzott nyomás hatására (11, 12,21). Az elcsúszott nyereg lehet egy már meglévő patológiás elváltozás, pl. a hátulsó végtag sántaságának jele (11). ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Medical imaging techniques can significantly aid correct diagnosis and have become essential to advanced veterinary care. Infrared thermography (IRT) is a novel and so far scarcely used tool in veterinary medicine in Hungary. IRT records the emitted heat of the body in a thermal map. Abnormalities in the thermal signature can indicate potential anomalies. Objectives: By highlighting the capabilities of IRT in equine medicine, the authors aim to popularise the method among practitioners. The advantages of IRT and its potentials as a supplementary diagnostic tool are reviewed. Limitations of the technique are also discussed, supplemented by guidance for how to overcome them. Five case studies are presented to illustrate the versatility of IRT and pro- vide examples of body parts that can be efficiently examined. Materials and Methods: An ICITM 7640 IR PAD 640P infrared camera was used to record the thermal signature in areas of veterinary interest in five horses. Thermo- grams were then evaluated to detect and localise potential pathologies. Results and Discussion: IRT was successfully used to identify (1) an asym- metrical thermal signature on the horse’s back due to an ill-fitted saddle; (2) increased temperature in the area of left splenius cervicis; (3) a fractured molar in the premaxilla-maxilla region; (4) a chip fracture in the proximal sesamoid bone of the right forelimb; and (5) inflammation of the hoof on the right forelimb. IRT can be used efficiently as a comparatively inexpensive and rapid pre-diagnostics tool to localise or establish a strong suspicion of certain abnormalities before directing the patient towards further imaging diagnostics (e.g. PET/CT, MRI). The authors advise to include thermography in veterinary education and advocate the establishment of a standardised framework for veterinary IRT concerning imaging methods, regulations, and environmental conditions.
... pressure is concentrated over a smaller area. With a narrow tree, a common problem is bridging, in which pressure is concentrated in the front and back of the panels with the middle part being unweighted (Harman, 1997) and particularly high pressure at the back of the saddle (Meschan et al., 2006). If the tree is too wide, pressure increases in the middle part of the panels (Meschan et al., 2006). ...
Chapter
The rider communicates with the horse on several levels, some of which can be measured mechanically. To date, most of these studies have involved using electronic pressure mats to measure pressure distribution on the horse’s back and strain gauge transducers to measure tension in the reins. The results are providing information that can be used to develop an understanding of the mechanics of the rider’s interaction with the horse.
... When the tree is either too wide or too narrow, the pressure is concentrated over a smaller area. With a narrow tree, a common problem is bridging, in which pressure is high at the front and rear of the panels with the middle part being relatively unweighted (Harman, 1997;Meschan et al., 2007). Bridging is regarded as a particularly deleterious saddle fitting issue (Harman, 1994;Nyikos et al., 2005;Werner et al., 2002). ...
Article
The rider, saddle and horse have a complex interaction that is important with regard to the horse’s welfare and performance. The effect of saddle fit and rider technique can be quantified in terms of pressure applied to the horse’s back using an electronic pressure mat. The findings have applications in improving the horse’s comfort, reducing the risk of back injury through better design of tack and equipment and education of veterinary and equestrian professionals about the effects of different equipment and riding techniques. This review describes the principles and practice of using an electronic saddle pressure mat and summarizes the findings of published studies based on this technology.
Chapter
This chapter discusses miscellaneous equine musculoskeletal conditions, focusing on musculoskeletal (MSK) emergencies. Regardless of the type of MSK emergency, the first and most important step should always be to stabilize the overall systemic condition of the horse. MSK emergencies such as fractures, tendon/ligament lacerations, and septic synovial structures can occur in any type of horse and may be career ending or potentially life threatening if not treated appropriately. The chapter also discusses subtle, inconsistent abnormalities associated with poorly performing horses, proper saddle fit, prepurchase examination (PPE), and stance and gait anomalies. Poorly fitting or improperly used saddles and saddle pads often contribute to back pain and poor performance. The veterinarian's role in performing the PPE includes evaluating and advising on the serviceability of a horse for a prospective buyer's intended purpose. For the veterinarian it is usually easy to recognize moderate to severe neurological gait anomalies.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.