Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Saddle Study Reveals High Degree of Lameness In Sports Horses - Issued: 4 April 2014

Hind limb lameness is the biggest cause of saddle slip in horses and there is a startling frequency of lameness  in the general sports horse population, reveals a new study on the relationship between lameness, saddle slip and back shape.

Saddle slip is usually blamed on poor saddle fit, a crooked rider or asymmetry in the shape of the horse’s back but the first phase of a long-term research project, which was first published in 2012, showed that in fact hind limb lameness is frequently the culprit.

The second phase of the study, conducted by Dr Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and Line Greve, PhD Student at the AHT, has gone on to look at the frequency of saddle slip and the reasons for it, in a large cross- section of the sports horse population. 1

Of the 506 normal, working sports horses assessed, 46% were classified as lame or having a stiff, stilted canter. Saddle slip occurred in 12% of cases, predominantly in those with hind limb, as opposed to fore limb, lameness. There was minimal asymmetry of back shape in the horses studied but 37% of the riders sat crookedly, possibly as an effect of the saddle slip rather than as a cause.  

Given  these  figures, horses  with  hind  limb  lameness  and  gait abnormalities  are  more  than 50 times  more likely  to  have  saddle  slip  than  other  horses,”  said  Line Greve.  

“Furthermore with nearly half of those studied being lame, many horses with lameness are clearly going unrecognised. This study has reinforced our previous work and suggests that further education of riders and trainers is needed, to help them identify saddle slip as an indicator of lameness.”  


The full results of the study will be presented at the second Saddle Research Trust International Conference, to be held in Cambridge on 29th November 2014 at Anglia Ruskin University. The conference is supported by World Horse Welfare (WHW) and is approved by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). 

Advance tickets are £100, £75 for SRT, BEVA, WHW members and students or £150 on the door. 

Email research@saddleresearchtrust.com or telephone 07775 912202 to reserve your place.

To find out more and to download a copy of the programme visit www.saddleresearchtrust.com 

1. The interrelationship of lameness, saddle slip and back shape in the general sports horse population, L.  Greve and  S.J.  Dyson,  Centre  for  Equine  Studies,  Animal  Health  Trust,  Lanwades  Park,  Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7UU, UK. 

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