The effect of saddle and weight on horses.
Back pain is a common problem in horses. When horses are ridden the extra weight on the back of the horse can lead to extension which can be a cause of kissing spine syndrome. Back pain can also be caused by badly fitting saddles. This research aims to determine the effects of different tack and weight on the movements of the back.
Nine healthy horses of similar composition were tested in walk, trot and canter on a treadmill. Four testing conditions were used; with saddle, with lunging girth, with saddle and 75 kilo, and without any saddle. By placing markers, the data was analysed for maximal extension, maximal flexion, range of motion of L3 and L5, and the maximal protraction and retraction angles of the limbs.
The data showed that at walk and trot, a significant difference in extension of the back was only found with a saddle with weight, while the other testing conditions did not change the back or limb kinematics. In canter, a significant increase in back extension was found with a loaded and unloaded saddle, however no further significant changes were found in back and limb kinematics.
The results show that weight and a saddle can increase the overall extension of the back and may possibly contribute to back problems in horses.
> From: De Cocq, Equine Vet J 36 (2005) 758-763. All rights reserved to Wiley Online Library. Click here for the online summary.