Saddle Research Trust – Learnings in brief No 3 …
The Rider Weight Study
Presented by Dr Sue Dyson, Prof Pat Harris, Laura Quiney, Dr Anne Bondi
A pilot study trying to establish what is an ‘appropriate’ horse, rider & saddle combination and the potential impact of inappropriate combinations
6 Sound horse’s selected between 500 – 600kgs and similar body condition scores (nothing over or underweight)
Ridden by 4 riders of similar ability but different bodyweights & heights, expressed as a % of horse body weight as follows:
Light (LW) 10 – 12%
Mid (MW) 12 – 15%
Heavy (HW) 15 – 18%
Very Heavy (VH) 20+%
Tack was also included
30 minute ridden assessment called by a reader
Back assessments were done pre and post exercise
Back profiles/templates were taken pre and post exercise
Saddle fit assessed, tack was not changed to suit different riders.
The whole horse ethogram applied to ridden assessment, highly likely a horse showing 8 or more markers is lame or experiencing musculoskeletal pain. An abandonment protocol put in place should a horse show lameness of grade 3 + in one leg or grade 1+ in two legs or 8 or more markers.
For the LW Rider – No abandonments of the ridden exercise
For the MW Rider – 1 abandonment out of 6
For the HW Rider – 5 out of 6 abandoned, one due to 10 markers, the mean average time for the test was 16 minutes out of 30
For the VH Rider – all test abandoned due to lameness the mean average test was just 8 mins out of 30
Draw from this what you will, this initial research was a scientific study to promote riding. Horse owner ship has fallen significantly since 2011 and it is well known that owning & riding horses has benefits for a rider’s health and well being but that appropriate and careful selection is required when choosing a horse. Russell reminded us prior to this that Riders should consider themselves athletes. The initial study also highlighted that saddle selection may also need to be different for HW & VH riders to allow for a more balanced seat but also consider that a of a short backed horse with a less than ideal rider weight or height combination may make this task unachievable.
Looking at these findings and as saddle fitters facing these challenges on a daily basis, in our opinion we would like the 15% rule to be adopted if possible. We must remember as riders we need to be fit for ourselves and our horses if we are to achieve our goals otherwise we should look to limit our expectations.
A 2nd phase of this study is in planning this will hopefully give us a definitive % for what is ‘Appropriate’ for the welfare of the horse and therefore give riders the ability to make a more considered judgement when choosing a horse.
Our 15% Guide
15% of bodyweight of a 450kg horse/pony to include saddle is 67.5kg or 10 stone 6lb
15% of bodyweight of a 500kg horse to include saddle is 75kg or 11 stone 8lb
15% of bodyweight of a 600kg horse to include saddle is 90kg or 14 stone 2lb
Bear in mind a saddle that weighs 7kg is just over a stone
SRT learnings No4 follows tomorrow