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Comparative Study of Saddles measured by 3D scanning analysis system

3D rapid scanning is a state of the art technology that can be utilised to measure complex shapes. The advanced software can produce accurate colour maps which show differences in shape or asymmetry. The scale on the right of each picture is shown in millimetres - neutral is green in the centre. Blue to mauve colour represents a negative shape or depression; red is positive or a rise. A random sample of used saddles was selected to test the system’s usefulness for the accurate measurement of saddles.

scan one

Saddle 1:

Shows a marked degree of asymmetry (over 14mm) through the
central area of the base panels, below the girthing and stirrup attachments. This suggests that the saddle may not have been fitted and used symmetrically, creating tilting and compression of the left hand panel.

scan two

Saddle 2:

Also shows asymmetry with the biggest differences (around
11mm) shown at the front under the stirrup bar area and at the rear under the seat. The compression pattern is diagonal, suggesting torque across the saddle from right fore quarter to left rear quarter.

scan three

Saddle 3:

Shows unusual wear patterns which may be attributable to a mix of support structures within the base panel. In the rear two-thirds there are air bags which may have differing levels of inflation. The ridges formed by the edges of the air bags have greatest asymmetry (nearly 5mm). There appears to be a compression pattern consistent with being stored crookedly on a saddle rack (of the type with lateral support bars). This “stripe” continues along the full length of the panel (but unfortunately cannot be measured at
the front as the data is incomplete in this case) The front third of the panel, where the greatest difference is seen, comprises felt material which is distorted, again, probably from poor storage.

scan four

Saddle 4:

Shows a small difference (2mm) at the rear where crooked storage
on a wooden saddle horse had caused a slight depression.

(Solution SMART™ dressage saddle.)


The 3D scanning system can be used to collect data for this application very quickly and easily with extremely high accuracy.
In this study only asymmetrical compression patterns of the base panels were investigated but it was observed that some saddles also showed other irregularities and future work could create complete mirror images in order to measure discrepancies in all dimensions.


The SRT maintains anonymity for all manufacturers of saddles that are randomly tested. Only manufacturers who are Research Associates and have given permission for the use of their saddles in testing are disclosed. Data is collected and analysed independently and objectively by SRT Research Associates. The SRT wishes to thank Central Scanning for their collaboration in this study.      Follow SaddleResearch on Twitter      View Saddle Research Trust's profile on LinkedIn