Measurements of saddle pressure in conjunction with back problems in horses
Elektronische Satteldruckmessungen im Zusammenhang mit Rückenproblemen bei Pferden
Nyikos S, von Rechenberg B, Werner D, Müller J A, Buess C, Keel R, Kalpen A, Vontobel H-D, von Plocki K A, Auer J A
Back problems in connection with saddle fit were studied in 26 horses. Problems were usually related to willingness of the horses to be ridden, moving the back away from underneath the saddle, stiffness for latero-, dorso- and ventroflexion, difficulties in transitions between gaits and riding under collection. Standardized protocols for assessing back problems, saddle manufacturing and saddle fit on horses with and without a rider were used, as well as measurements of saddle pressures under the saddle using an electronic saddle pad (Novel GmbH, Munich) while the horses were trotting. Statistical anaysis of data was performed using two factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) and correlations were calculated with a p-value set significant at p<0.05. Results demonstrated that muscle tensions and contractions as well as pain on the dorsal spinal processes were mostly responsible for back problems mainly in the lumbar area. Reasons for badly fitting saddles were assymmetry, hard saddle cushions, too narrow gulches and the concentration of the main point of gravity of the saddle seat over the lumbar area. If pressure measurements were subdivided in 6 masks with a cranial, middle and caudal mask on each side of the saddle, maximal pressures (MPP) exceeding 3.45N/cm2 in the anterior, 3.03N/cm2 in the middle and 3.10N/cm2 in the caudal mask were responsible for back problems. If mean pressure values (MVP) were studied, this was true for 1.32 N/cm2 in the cranial, 1.14 N/cm2 in the middle and 1.00 N/cm2 in the caudal masks. Significant differences and correlations were found for pressure values and back problems as well as saddle fit. It was clearly shown that pressure tolerance was much lower in the lumbar area compared to the withers and that „bridge-formation“ of the saddle was one of the worst criteria for saddle fit. The study also revealed that the electronic saddle pad delivered valuable data for daily equine practice in conjunction with back problems in horses.