Autumn Newsletter 2012

SRT Honorary Fundraiser Opportunity


The Saddle Research Trust (SRT) wishes to recruit an enthusiastic and experienced honorary fundraiser to help progress some exciting new scientific research on the influence of the saddle on the welfare and performance of horse and rider.


The Saddle Research Trust is a charitable organisation, aiming to provide support and advice, both to the horse owning public and to industry professionals. Our Trustees and the Advisory Committee include leading veterinary professionals, physiotherapists, saddlers, riders and trainers. We are currently actively seeking funding to commence working on a number of important scientific projects, in collaboration with the Animal Health Trust and the Royal Veterinary College to explore the effects of saddle design and fit on the welfare and performance of both horse and rider.


This exciting, part-time position of SRT fundraiser would suit someone with a passion for horses and a good working knowledge of fund raising who wishes to be involved with making a real and long-term difference to the welfare and performance of riding horses globally.


If you are interested in this position or are able to help the SRT in other ways please contact Anne Bondi on 07775 912202 or email


We would be grateful if you could pass this email on to as many of your friends and acquaintances as possible in order to help us fill this pivotal role with the right individual.


New study shows saddle slip may be early indicator of lameness


A collaborative study between the Animal Health Trust and the SRT 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.


Saddle slip in sports horses is a well-recognised problem that can occur for a variety of reasons, including asymmetry in the shape of the horse’s back, riders sitting crookedly and ill-fitting saddles. Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies at the Animal Health Trust, had also observed that saddle slip may occur because of hind limb lameness.  The intention of the study, therefore, was to find out more about the interrelationships between the horse, saddle and rider and to document the frequency of occurrence of saddle slip in horses with hind limb lameness compared with other horses.

The research was undertaken by Line Greve, Intern, and Sue Dyson, at the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket and was presented at the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Congress last month. It is thought to be the first study of its kind, and was supported by the Saddle Research Trust (SRT).


Saddle Slip

Figure: Caudal images of a horse ridden in straight lines on the left rein and on a left circle.

There is saddle slip to the right, which was worse in circles compared with straight lines.

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 were 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 said: “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.”

Further exciting scientific studies are planned, with the support of the Saddle Research Trust, in order to build on these findings.

1.An investigation of the relationship between hindlimb lameness and saddle slip, L. Greve and S.J. Dyson, Centre for Equine Studies, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7UU, UK.


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Recent PR Successes


A number of SRT projects have been reported in recent magazine articles. A list is provided below, with links to the articles themselves or news item summaries, if the full article is not available:


New Software Evaluates Horse, Rider Asymmetry, the Horse online magazine (25/09/2012). Click here to view the article.


Research shows a slipping saddle may point to lameness, Horse & Hound (25/10/2012). Click here to view news item.


Could the majority of UK horses be lame? Horse & Hound (01/11/2012). Click here to view news item.


SRT Presentations at the ISES 2012 International Conference


Anne Bondi (SRT Director) and Liz Gandy (SRT Research Coordinator and Lecturer in Computing at the University of Sunderland) presented at the 8th International Equitation Science Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, from 18th -20th July 2012. The conference theme was "Equitation Science - The Road Ahead - how equitation science has developed as a discipline and how new innovations in technology can be used to improve practice".


Details of the summary paper and poster are provided below. Both were very well-received by conference delegates and a number of useful contacts were made, that may result in future exciting collaborations and new SRT Research Associates.


Gandy E.A., Bondi A., Hogg R., Cornell A. "'A software measurement tool for analysis of asymmetry in the interaction between horse, rider and saddle". Click here to view the conference proceedings, which include the presentation summary paper.


Bondi A, Gandy E.A., Hogg R. "A preliminary investigation of the asynchrony of horse, saddle and rider interaction". Click here to view the poster.

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