Can we apply science to the equine industry?

       At the Saddle Research Trust 2nd International Conference In 2014, Professor Rene van Weeren introduced this question to the delegates and made this observation:

” Although progress in this area is slow and hampered for reasons outlined. there is no reason why progress could not be made and even be as fast as in other (human) sports that have embraced modern technology. Examples are manifold and include bike development in professional cycling, shoes used in running, the klapskate used in speed skating and the introduction of novel athletic techniques such as the “Fosbury Flop” in jumping which was introduced by Dick Fosbury during the 1968 Olympics. The last example is of special interest. While heavily criticised by the leading coaches of the day, who stated that the technique would “wipe out an entire generation of high jumpers because they would all have broken necks” the reality is that since 1980, nobody who did not use the technique has held the world record. Fortunately, also, progress is made in the equestrian world, albeit still modest and at a relatively slow pace. Good examples of scientific studies with practical impact are the work on footing(among others Cravier-Denoix et al.2013, Hernlund et al. 2013 and many saddle pressure studies (among others Ramseier et al. 2013, Clayton et al. 2014). However, the impact on the industry is still relatively limited.

The question is not whether or not we can apply science in the equine industry (van Weeren and Back 2014) but whether we want it and to what extent we allow it to influence our current practice. It is still an open question as to whether the equine industry is far-sighted enough to embrace novel technology that can be of great value in making the sport better and safer for both people and horses on its own initiative, or will have to be forced to do so by external pressure.”

It is only a few weeks now until the 2018  Saddle Research Trust 3rd International Conference and it will be fascinating to hear if we have advanced in this area of welfare and performance in the ridden horse and rider.

Although the conference has sold out, you can watch via live stream, tv quality with a ‘watch again’ feature. The link is on our homepage.


Voting for the Welfare and Performance Awards is open until 11th November, 22.00hrs

These prestigious awards celebrating the very best in equine welfare and performance will be presented at the Gala Awards Dinner following the 3rd Saddle Research Trust international conference on the 8th December 2018.

In the equine category, we have a diverse shortlist, Teddy, Rio, and Valegro. Key to all three is “absolute joy“: for the children in a hospice, who experience a gentle and confident little pony, for the dedicated owner who has ensured  her rescue cob is safe and comfortable  riding out in the Welsh hills, and for the thousands who have been enthralled watching a superstar.

It is almost an impossible choice as all three are equally deserving.

You can read more about all the shortlisted candidates in each category by using this link:

Join us and our celebrity guests on the 8th December and celebrate these outstanding practitioners, achievements, horses, people, saddlery/equipment and organisations who lead the way, inspire and inform all equestrians.

Discounts are available for block bookings – contact admin@saddleresearchtrust for details.

You can buy your Gala awards Dinner tickets using this link:

Announcing the Shortlist for the Saddle Research Trust Welfare and Performance Awards!

The Saddle Research Trust is delighted to announce the shortlisted nominations for the 2018 Welfare and Performance Awards, to be presented at the Gala Awards Dinner, sponsored by the Deutches Institut für Pferdeosteopathie.
There are amazingly diverse candidates, including the latest high tech, life-improving equipment, and dedicated and outstanding professionals. Some are horsey household names, some may be less familiar, all are resoundingly deserving of recognition.

                The SRT Welfare and Performance Person Award
sponsored by

John McEwan FEI       Hayley Moore         Mary Wanless

                 The SRT Welfare and Performance Practitioner sponsored by The Animal Production, Welfare & Veterinary Sciences Department, Harper Adams University

Sue Dyson     Sonya Nightingale    Thilo Pfau

                      The  SRT Welfare and Performance Equine
Teddy the Shetland       World Horse Welfare Rio      Valegro

                      The SRT Welfare and Performance App sponsored by 21st Century Rider

Equibuddy             Equla Vert            Horsemonkey

                      The SRT Welfare and Performance Achievement
sponsored by The Horse Trust 

Christopher Bartle     Carl Hester   Claire Lomas

               The SRT Welfare and Performance Saddlery/Equipment
sponsored by Novel GMBH

                       Equiband       Micklem Bridle     SaddleAid Saddle

                    The SRT Welfare and Performance Organisation

sponsored by HorseGent-Horseback, University College of Ghent

The Brooke      Equitopia       ISES

Breaking news…  special Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented at the Gala Awards Dinner.

Buy your tickets for this perfect pre-Christmas party using this link:


Sponsorship packages available now.

Please contact the Saddle Research Trust at for details

SRT Welfare and Performance Awards 2018 nominations

Here are the longlists of nominations for the Welfare and Performance Awards to be presented at the Gala Awards Dinner, kindly sponsored by Deutsches Institut für Pferdeosteopathie and supported by Amerigo and Utopia Saddles.

Keep a lookout for news on the shortlisted candidates. For news on who they are and how to vote please watch this space.

For The Ridercise Welfare and Performance Person the nominations are:

Richard Davison, Hayley Moore, Russell Guire, Jochen Schleese, William Micklem, John MacEwan, Dr. Robert Cook, Thomas Ritter, Mary Wanless, Dr. Andrew Maclean, Stuart Attwood, the late Carol Brett, Lisa Ashton, Peter Menet, Ellen Cochrane, Karen Rohlf, Caroline Hegarty.

For the E.Q. saddles Welfare and Performance Equine the nominations are:

Teddy the Shetland, WHW Rio, Valegro, Bluebell, Boyce, Supernova, Felix

For the Welfare and Performance Organisation

ISES, Balance International, Equitopia, Horses Inside Out, The Brooke, Blue Cross, Ritter Dressage.

For the Welfare and Performance App the nominations are:

Equibuddy, Coaches Eye, Horsemonkey, Equla Vert

For the Welfare and Performance Practitioner the nominations are:

Sue Palmer, Karin Allott, Dr Angela Holland, Steph Bradley, Jim Masterson, Becky Chapman, Stefano Coata, Dr Gavin Scofield, Hilary Wakefield, the late Carol Brett, Dr Sue Dyson, Rosie Stone, Tim Jarman, Sonja Nightingale, Penny Hooper, Nick Stone, Emily Howe, Mandy Miller, Gillian Tabor, Donald McLellan, Liga Cottle, Thilo Pfau.

For the Novel GMBH Welfare and Performance Saddlery/Equipment the nominations are:

Micklem bridle, Total Contact saddle, Utopia Saddle, The Balance Saddle, Equiband, Fairfax saddles, Estride Harmony, Strada saddle, Saddle Aid Saddle, Lightrider bitless.

For the Welfare and Performance Achievement the nominations are:

BHS Education, Carl Hester, Mark Fisher and Russell Guire, Francesca Bradley, Brain, Pain or Training book, Christopher Bartle, Claire Lomas

Congratulations to all those nominated for an award for their work to improve the welfare and performance of horses and riders everywhere.

The shortlist will be announced soon. Keep an eye out for the Saddle Research Trust newsletter, and Saddle Research Trust Facebook and Twitter pages for all you need to know about how to vote.

Please note: our major sponsors and connections of the SRT do not appear here and some nominations were deemed to be in the wrong category and were moved accordingly. Nominations which did not meet the criteria do not appear.

Breaking news….There will be 2 special Lifetime Achievement awards presented at the Gala Dinner.








Education needed on rider weight ratios and saddle fit

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!”