Education needed on rider weight ratios and saddle fit

These photos were taken at a championship show this year and 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!”

Nominations for the Welfare and Performance Awards

A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has sent in nominations. It has highlighted just how much people appreciate their qualified practitioners, their kit, and their circles of support and knowledgeable advice. It has also demonstrated the hugely positive influence that the people and kit (equine vets, saddlery makers, physios, chiropractors, osteopaths, saddle fitters, trainers and equine practitioners and organisations, the equipment, training aids and saddlery) nominated have made to ridden horses all over the world.

It’s apparent that these riders and owners who have sent in nominations try to ensure their horses are comfortable, cared for and progressing and we’re delighted to be able to recognise excellence in the field of Equine Welfare and Performance by celebrating the wonderful professionals who work hard to make a difference to those horses and riders. The Awards will be presented at the Gala Dinner following the srt2018 conference in the fabulous banqueting suite pictured above. It’s promising to be a fun evening, at the perfect time of year to get together with friends. You’ll be able to have dinner with our special guests Lucinda Green and Richard Davison, our generous sponsors, our celebrity speakers and the opportunity to find out more about the brands and organisations which can take you forward in your ridden goals. Don’t worry if you’ve attended the conference all day – the dress code is smart/casual and not the full monty!  Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

The longlist has now been sent to our panel of SRT Trustees to check eligibility and that those nominated meet the criteria.

SRT Director, Dr Anne Bondi and her company Solution Saddles are not eligible and both of the conference sponsors World Horse Welfare and Wow Saddles have kindly asked not to be recognised in the awards, therefore despite numerous nominations, these will not appear in the shortlist currently being drawn up by our trustees.

Once this is completed, voting will be open. A newsletter giving details will be sent out to all subscribers and if you’d like to be added then drop us an email at admin@saddleresearchtrust.com

There are sponsorship opportunities available, contact details as above.

There will also be Twitter and Facebook updates on voting so don’t miss your chance to vote for your favourites!

Update coming very soon!

 

A concentration of equine vets

test in progress

The Animal Health Trust Centre for Equine Studies held a study on pain behaviour in ridden horses at World Horse Welfare‘s Norfolk Headquarters.

Riders, owners and their horses, and professional practitioners volunteered their time to support this vital study which has amazing implications to improve horse welfare in the future.

The smooth running programme saw horses first assessed by  ACPAT physiotherapist  Jo Spear for back palpation and then  SMS Saddle Fitter Liz Suddaby checked the fit, placement, balance and suitability of saddles, before a 15 minute ridden warm-up leading up to the 8 min dressage test.

saddle fit check
physio assessment

The horses were scored by the team of equine vets for the presence of 24 behaviours which may reflect pain.  The tests were filmed by Saddle Research Trust director, Dr Anne Bondi so that comparison between real-time behaviour assessments and video analysis can be made by Dr Sue Dyson, and so that Dr Anne Bondi can score rider skill level.

The eleven equine vets, who assessed the behaviour, led by AHT’s Dr Sue Dyson said that it was one of the best days of continual professional development that they had ever had and that they would change their procedures for both pre-purchase examinations and investigations of either lameness or poor performance in the future.

 

All the equine guinea pigs and volunteers benefitted from the calm, therapeutic atmosphere and peaceful, immaculate surroundings which were a real credit to all who work at WHW HQ.

The feedback from the riders and owners was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the day, found it very interesting and welcomed the feedback on their horse from the professional practitioners who scored them.

Dr Sue Dyson, who developed this study said:  “It was somewhat disappointing and disturbing that there was such a high proportion of lame horses, but it did serve to demonstrate the very clear behavioural differences between the lame and non-lame horses.”

An overview of this study will be presented at the Saddle Research Trust conference in December.

 

Rehabilitating the Lame Horse

This is the 4th short film in the Equitopia series which explains how, why and when you can bring your horse back to physical, mental and emotional health following an injury or lameness.  Showing the necessary circle of support around the horse and how to go through the steps to bring your lame horse back into work, this film completes the cycle, from recognising lameness to finding treatment and rehabbing your horse early enough to avoid injury to both horse and rider.

As always, the welfare of the horse is first and foremost the guiding pattern throughout the recovery process.  There are no easy shortcuts. but it is clear that we need to involve experienced and qualified practitioners who have skills that have taken years of learning. The rider/owner’s dedicated input and ability to follow the practices recommended by vets and other qualified practitioners will make or break the outcome – it is up to us to make the decisions and focus on the horse for the length of time that is needed.

We can all make a difference to our horses, whatever our goals are for them.

We have loved seeing these films take shape. The advice they provide is both insightful and accurate, aimed at the general horse-owning public and not just for professionals.

You can meet the founder of Equitopia, Caroline Hegarty,  at the Saddle Research Trust 3rd International Conference on the 8th December 2018, Horse, Rider, saddlery Interactions: Welfare and Performance.

Tickets for both the Conference and the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony are available on Eventbrite using this link:    http://bit.ly/2w7iyE8   

Here’s SRT Ava, who caught the eye in earlier films with his lovely fluid movement, enjoying his routine physiotherapy.

Don’t wait for the head bob!

This is Part 3, of a 4 part Equitopia series which Saddle Research Trust has been delighted to collaborate with, involving some stellar professional practitioners who are (equine) household names.

Part 3 is all about this fascinating yet easy to learn translation of horses’ facial expressions. It is humbling to realise just how very expressive and communicative they are and yet, in many cases we are still at the caveman phase when trying to understand what it is our horse is trying to tell us. It’s clear from this film that horses are extremely expressive. Once we learn to read their facial expressions there is a real opportunity for welfare to improve for both horses and humans.

Most horse owners and practitioners are confident with translating ‘happy’, ‘sleepy’ and ‘not very happy’  but even this may be misunderstood. As a lifelong (quite long, really!) horse owner, I had no idea about the wrinkle between the nostrils, for example. It was an expression which I did not understand or was able to translate, prior to watching this film.

There is clear guidance on understanding the connection between pain and fear too and Part 3 of this invaluable series, Recognising Facial Expressions of a Horse in Pain does not disappoint.

Dr Sue Dyson and Dr Jeannine Berger’s amazing work will become a standard part of the “toolbox” for all riders, owners, veterinarians and other practitioners. It is a wonderful breakthrough to be able to recognise pain – and be able to call for help and diagnostics more quickly, avoiding further injury or even dangerous situations.

Enjoy this one as part of your learning journey.

Find out more on this topic at the Saddle Research Trust International Conference on the 8th December.