16-17 NOVEMBER 2023

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The influence of rider asymmetry and saddle on equine performance

18 Nov 2022
RVC Equine Theatre 2
The influence of rider asymmetry and saddle on equine performance

The horse‘s back plays an important role in athletic performance, enabling the controlled transfer of forces between the pelvic and thoracic limbs. During locomotion, gravitational and inertial forces increase the effect that the rider’s mass has on the horse. In trot the maximal force on the horse’s back is twice the rider’s weight. The horses back provides a dynamic platform to which a saddle is securely attached, with the saddle following the general movements. The rider’s pelvis, which is in direct contact with the seat of the saddle should provide a mechanism for effective communication between rider-saddle-horse. Riders must learn to accommodate the gait-specific movement patterns of the horse’s back so that they can manage the propulsive forces, sit in balance with minimal interference to the horse’s motion. Horse-saddle-rider interaction is complex, when rider asymmetry is present and or, saddle fit and balance is suboptimal, the horse will develop a locomotor strategy to compensate thus causing a biomechanical disadvantage to both the horse and rider.

  • Quantifying the effect that the rider, and rider asymmetry has on the locomotor apparatus of the horse.
  • Understanding the dynamic effect that the rider has on rotational movements of the back.
  • Importance of correct saddle fit in order to optimise back health and function.