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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Comparison of rider stability in a flapless saddle versus a conventional saddle

Clayton, Hilary M.; Hampson, Alexandra; Fraser, Peter; White, Arlene; Egenvall, Agneta


The purpose of a saddle is to improve the rider's safety, security, and comfort, while distributing the forces exerted by the rider and saddle over a large area of the horse's back without focal pressure points. This study investigates the effects on rider stability of an innovative saddle design that differs from a conventional saddle in having no flaps. Five horses were ridden by their regular rider in their usual saddle and in a flapless saddle. A pressure mat (60 Hz) placed between the saddle and the horse's back was used to determine the position of the center of pressure, which represents the centroid of pressure distribution on the horse's back. Data were recorded as five horses were ridden at collected and extended walk, trot and canter in a straight line. Data strings were split into strides with 5 strides analysed per horse/gait/type. For each stride the path of the rider's center of pressure was plotted, maximal and minimal values in the anteroposterior and mediolateral directions were extracted, and ranges of motion in anteroposterior and mediolateral directions were calculated. Differences between the conventional and flapless saddles were analysed using mixed models ANOVA. Speed and stride length of each gait did not differ between saddles. Compared with the conventional saddle, the flapless saddle was associated with significant reductions in range of motion of the rider's center of pressure in the mediolateral direction in all gaits and in the anteroposterior direction in collected trot, extended trot and extended canter. The improved stability was thought to result from the absence of saddle flaps allowing the rider's thighs to lie in more adducted positions, which facilitated the action of the lumbopelvic-hip musculature in stabilizing and controlling translations and rotations of the pelvis and trunk. The closer contact between rider and horse may also have augmented the transfer of haptic information.

Published in

2018, Volume: 13, number: 6, article number: e0196960

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Clinical Science
    Sport and Fitness Sciences

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