Study shows link between saddle slip and lameness

By: Horse Deals

Study shows link between saddle slip and lameness
Study shows link between saddle slip and lameness

A new study presented at the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Congress, has identified a significant link between hind limb lameness and saddle slip, showing consistent saddle slip in some horses with hind limb lameness, even when the lameness is fairly subtle and difficult to detect.

Supported by the Saddle Research Trust (SRT), the research was undertaken by Line Greve, Intern, and Sue Dyson, at the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket.

The study assessed 128 horses of varying size, age and type. The degree of lameness of each horse was graded; back shape and symmetry were measured and saddles assessed for symmetry and fit.  Each horse was ridden by at least two riders and rider straightness plus weight was recorded.

The grade of saddle slip, whether it occurred with more than one rider, and whether saddle slip was influenced by the direction of movement or the diagonal on which the rider was sitting were also noted.

The saddle consistently slipped to one side in 54% of horses with hind limb lameness, compared with 4% of horses with fore limb lameness, 0% with back pain and/or sacroiliac joint region pain and 0% of non-lame horses.

Diagnostic analgesia was subsequently used to abolish the hind limb lameness and this eliminated the saddle slip in 97% of cases.

Sue Dyson says: "Our findings emphasise the need to educate owners, veterinarians, physiotherapists, trainers, riders and saddle fitters that saddle slip is frequently an indicator of lameness, not necessarily a manifestation of an ill-fitting saddle or asymmetric shape of the horse’s back. Detection of saddle slip provides an opportunity for the owner, riders and trainers to detect low-grade and subclinical lameness, with important welfare consequences."

The Saddle Research Trust was founded in 2009 to promote the welfare of the ridden horse and to raise awareness of the issues surrounding saddles, equine backs and performance.

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