These photos taken at a championship show this year show equines either being ‘worked in’ before competing, or in the ring.
Their expressions and way of going clearly showed discomfort.
Hopefully, the Saddle Research Trust conference, Horse, rider, saddlery interactions: Welfare and performance sponsored by Wow Saddles and World Horse Welfare will raise awareness on the damage and pain that is caused if a saddle does not fit the rider, if the weight is too far back, and if a rider is too big for the animal. The safety of the small rider who gets on after this working in period is compromised when the horse or pony is in discomfort.
While we await the full results of the pilot study on weight ratios, which will be presented at the Saddle Research Trust international conference in December, perhaps in the meantime all riders, judges, owners and ring stewards could work with Dr Sue Dyson’s principle of “if the picture is wrong, it’s probably wrong!”