Spring Newsletter 2013


Please continue to support us!
Annual subscriptions are due now for 2013. Please click here for further information, to renew or join. Rates remain the same as 2012 and you can now pay with our new secure PayPal online system..

Honorary membership is bestowed upon all our collaborators and volunteers for 2013. We are immensely grateful for the continued support of all our honorary members. 

Sarah Shephard

Public Relations

Dissemination of research findings is of paramount importance to the future welfare of the horse. Getting key messages across to the equestrian community is a vital part of the work of the SRT and we are therefore delighted to welcome Sarah Shephard to the organisation. Through her successful media relations company, Bright Bay PR, she has brought significant publicity successes to the SRT.

The Animal Health Trust project has benefitted greatly from Sarah’s PR skills. Dr. Sue Dyson welcomes this progressive step: “The Saddle Research Trust is extremely fortunate to be able to work with a very proactive journalist who is not only a horseperson, but also has a good understanding of science. I have never had so much global press coverage for any project I have worked on. I anticipate that we will be able to capitalise on this in the future to publicise our results, for the mutual benefit of all.  We feel very privileged to have these opportunities.

Increased public awareness will help bring support for future research. If the equestrian community know more about what is being done and how it will affect them, they are more likely to help fundraise and generate finance for further study. Scientists, who often shy away from the idea of marketing and promotion, are notoriously poor at publicising their work, so it is in this area that the SRT can be increasingly effective. Send us your progress reports and help us put your work in the spotlight!

The SRT International Workshop

The Saddle Research Trust, a charitable organisation, was established to lead and support research into the influence of saddles on the performance of horses and riders.  An inaugural International Workshop, hosted by the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in Newmarket, brought together in February last year the world’s leading scientific experts to discuss the interaction between horses, saddles and riders, in order to outline our current level of knowledge and major problem areas and questions, to promote discussion and to propose future areas for research. The meeting, also attended by veterinary surgeons, physiotherapists, rider representatives and members of the saddlery profession, comprised a series of keynote lectures followed by in depth discussions.


Dr Sue Dyson


One year on…what have we achieved, what progress has been made and what lies ahead?

  Outcomes from the International Workshop

  • Voting of delegates

Following lively discussion and an overview of potential further areas for research, all the delegates voted for the topics that they considered should be prioritised.  The results were overwhelmingly in favour of investigation of the three individual elements of horse, saddle and riders. The group’s opinion was that more evidence is required about the each element before we can see the true picture of the interaction and the relative performance of saddles. For example, further investigation of riders is necessary to establish the range of motion that is required to accommodate the swing of the horse’s back; we need to know much more about the inter relationships between conformation of the horse’s back and movement; little is known about the impact of different saddle designs on performance of either horse or rider.  These are complex problems that require collaboration between researchers with different areas of expertise. 

  • Press report

Dr. Sue Dyson MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, FRCVS, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics, Centre for Equine Studies, Animal Health Trust, Newmarket. Click here for more information

  • Veterinary report

Science in brief: Interactions between the rider, the saddle and the horse, published in The Equine Veterinary Journal
Prof. Hilary Clayton, holder of the McPhail Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Click here for more information.

  • Review paper

The horse-saddle-rider interaction, published in The Veterinary Journal
Line Greve and Sue Dyson, Centre for Equine Studies, Animal Health Trust, Newmarket.  Click here for more information.

  • Tekscan sponsorship


The SRT International Workshop highlighted the need for improved methods of measuring elements of the horse, saddle, and rider interaction. Force sensor mats and their use under the saddle to calculate pressure exerted on the horse’s back were the subjects of much discussion amongst the leading authorities in this field. A new system that has huge potential for saddle research has recently been developed by Tekscan Inc., the US manufacturers of the CONFORMatTM pressure mapping system. For more information go to http://www.tekscan.com

The SRT is delighted to announce a major sponsorship deal with Tekscan and Biosense Medical, their UK representatives. Thanks to the companies’ support, we now have top of the range equipment and technical expertise available for use in collaborative projects being run by SRT Research Associates. So far, the state-of-the-art technology has been kept extremely busy, having been employed in studies with the University of Sunderland and the McTimoney College of Chiropractic. The main research project where the TekscanTM equipment is based is at the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket, where a large-scale investigation of saddle-slip in relation to hindlimb lameness is currently ongoing.

  • SRT International Conference and Workshop 2014

There is tremendous support and enthusiasm for the work of the SRT. Feedback from the workshop delegates was unanimously in favour of holding another meeting with the same format, with the majority of those present recommending that a two year interval should be allowed for progress to be made and reported on in the various ongoing and planned research projects.
The SRT Committee is therefore delighted to announce our next meeting, which will open with the public Conference on Saturday 29th November 2014 and continue with the Research Workshop on Sunday 30th November and Monday 1st December, 2014.
Please reserve the dates in your diary now!
Further details will be announced soon.

Research Associates News

  • Animal Health Trust

SRT Research Associates at the Animal Health Trust are currently coordinating a large-scale research project in collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College. The 3-year study is investigating saddle-slip in relation to hindlimb lameness. Line Greve, PhD. student at the AHT, presented a research communication of her intern study at the BEVA Congress in September 2012: ‘Saddle slip may be an indicator of the presence of hindlimb lameness’ and was awarded the Voorjaarsdagen Award for the best clinical research presentation. She will be invited to give the presentation again at the Voorjaarsdagen Congress in Amsterdam in April 2013. Click here to view poster

A research paper, co-authored with Dr. Sue Dyson, “An investigation of the relationship between hindlimb lameness and saddle slip”, has been published in the Equine Veterinary Journal with acknowledgements to the SRT and SRT Research Associates, Biosense Medical.  The work is also being received internationally, was mentioned at the American Association of Equine Practitioners Focus meeting on Equine Lameness in 2012 and later this year will be part of the Frank Milne lecture to be given by Dr. Dyson at the AAEP convention. Click here for more information.

We need your help!
If you would like to contribute to this ground-breaking research about saddle slip in the general equine community by means of a questionnaire survey, please follow this link to the AHT website or copy and paste it into your browser: http://www.aht.org.uk/cms-display/premise_questionnaire.html

  • University of Sunderland

SRT Research Associates at the UoS Equestrian Study Group are part of a large-scale multi-disciplinary project investigating the interaction of horses, saddles and riders. The UoS group has authored several research papers that will be submitted for publication during 2013.

Anne Bondi, PhD student, is investigating how different saddle designs perform by focusing on the asynchrony of the movement between the horse, saddle and rider. She presented the preliminary findings at the International Society for Equitation Science Conference (ISES) in 2012. Click here to view poster.
Elizabeth Gandy, Computer Scientist and Senior Lecturer, has developed an innovative new software tool for analysis of the horse, saddle and rider interaction. She gave a presentation of the development and application of the system at the ISES conference.   Click here to view conference proceedings.

Elizabeth Gandy, Anne Bondi and Tim Pigott have carried out a preliminary investigation using the XsensTM MVN inertial motion capture suit (www.xsens.com) for the measurement of hip angle rotation in the assessment of asymmetry in riders. The study revealed the presence of asymmetry in hip external rotation angles for all 12 riders analysed and found the technology to be efficient and practical, with the potential to revolutionise the analysis of horse and rider interactions. Future work will include validation of the technology for use in rider analysis and investigation into the potential link between rider asymmetry and lower back pain/injury risk.

SRT Advisory Committee

Following the International Workshop, the SRT Advisory Committee was formed to help coordinate and drive its aims forward. The invited members, who were selected from specialist areas and organisations, will facilitate communication and relations with key academic, industry and funding bodies.
For further information on the SRT Advisory Committee click here

  • Honorary Fundraiser

The Advisory Committee is seeking an Honorary Fundraiser to join the team in coordinating our fund raising efforts.
With the assistance of an enthusiastic and experienced volunteer fundraiser we hope to be able to secure the financial support we need to pursue groundbreaking research projects.
If you have a passion for horses and a good working knowledge of fundraising and wish to be involved with making a real and long-term difference to the welfare and performance of riding horses globally, the SRT would be delighted to hear from you. Contact us

  • Student Advisors

The SRT is frequently approached for advice on research projects, particularly by students. The field of saddle research is hugely complex and understandably, students may not always have access to the most relevant, up to date advice through their own supervisors. It is important that the quality of student research is high in order to make a contribution to knowledge, be of practical use and avoid repetition of investigations. The SRT wishes to facilitate the raising of standards in student research and is therefore seeking volunteers who would like to contribute to an advisory service. If you are interested in being on our expert panel, please contact us, stating the area of special interest and expertise that you would be willing to give advice on.



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