An investigation into the effect of GP saddles v's TCS saddle

“An investigation into the effect of general purpose saddles and the Total Contact saddle on the temperature of the horse’s back and freedom of movement”

by

S Keepax, J Berry, S Attwood

Introduction: Evidence of riding horses with some sort of seat covering used as a saddle dates back to 4000BC with the development of a ‘treeless’ saddle occurring around 500BC. These saddles improved the stability of the rider and performance of the horse. This was later improved further with the development of a treed saddle (Singer, 1978 cited in Belock et al, 2012)

Aims and objectives: The objective of this study was to compare gait variations (shoulder angles and stride length) in two different saddles (general purpose and Total Contact – a treeless saddle). The study also sought to determine the impacts, if any, on the horse’s back regarding heat production – a possible marker of pain.

Method: A random selection of six horses was made from a population of riding school horses. Each horse was ridden by the same rider for a total of ten minutes in walk and trot. A temperature reading was taken every minute from under the saddle and beneath the seat bones of the rider in order for a surface temperature reading to be obtained. The horse was then ridden past a video motion analysis system, in walk and in trot (three times for each horse), allowing the shoulder angles and stride length to be determined from markers placed on the horse. Finally, thermo graphic images were obtained from each side of the untacked horse to allow any ‘hot spots’ to be displayed.

Results: Analysis of the footage showed that mean stride length and shoulder angle range was greater in the Total Contact saddle . The range of stride length differences for all horses was 1 cm to 15 cm and the range of shoulder angle differences was 0.7 degrees to 2.7 degrees in walk and a stride length difference in trot of between 1 cm and 23 cm. The statistical analysis of these values indicated  p = 0.04 for stride length differences in walk in favour of the TC saddle and p=0.046 when looking at the shoulder angle. Analysis of the surface temperature of the back indicates that the temperature was higher when the horse was worked in the general purpose saddle (mean temp of 35.3 deg C versus 33.5 deg C in walk and 35.9 deg C versus 32.4 deg C in trot). The thermo graphic images show that ‘hot spots’ are greatest following data collection with general purpose saddles. These are mainly located where the knee roll was situated compared to those of the treeless saddles which are in varying locations. The statistical significance of the values for heat production were all in favour of the TC saddle where p=0.04 in walk and p=0.026 in trot.

In conclusion the Total Contact Saddle has a smaller impact on heat production in the horses back in comparison to working in a general purpose saddle. It also allows for greater freedom of movement (indicated by the shoulder angle and stride length).Why not post a Comment ?

Chiron Horse sporting the Havana Brown Total Contact Saddle with long straps

Chiron Horse sporting the Havana Brown Total Contact Saddle with long straps

A trip to the pub in a Total Contact Saddle

A trip to the pub in a Total Contact Saddle