Preliminary field study on saddle pressure distribution in horses without back pain
Vorläufige Feldstudie zur Satteldruckverteilung bei Pferden ohne Rückenprobleme
Glaus M, Witte S, Herholz C
Objective of the study was to assess saddle pressure distribution in a normal horse population and to determine whether or not the pressure pad used is able to provide reliable information on saddle fit in a field setting. In addition the influence of type of saddle, type of saddle pad and back conformation on saddle pressure distribution was investigated. Forty randomly sampled horses were equipped and measured with a pressure pad at rest, during free and medium (collected) walk and during rising and sitting trot. All measurements were made on the straight line and were summarized according to the percentage pressure distribution front to back, as well as left, right and middle (spinal), of the saddle. Additional data were collected by a questionnaire and all data were statistical analyzed by the program STS 3.42 and NCSS 2007 (ANOVA). Significantly higher percentage pressures were noted at the back of the saddle in horses with poor musculature in the lumbar region when compared with those with prominent muscles in this area. Measurements using alternative saddle pads such as gel pads, foam material pads or yoga mats were variable and gave significantly different (higher) percentage pressures when compared to the traditional thin textile saddle pad. Western saddles showed significantly higher percentage pressure distribution towards the front of the saddle while a treeless saddle showed a higher percentage pressure distribution over midline. This study provides preliminary information on the saddle pressure distribution in a normal horse population measured in the field setting. Larger numbers would enable more robust interpretation of pressure measurements and improve on their clinical relevance.