Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saddle slip may indicate lameness


Saddle slip may not be the result of an ill fitting saddle or asymmetrical back muscles. A recent study has shown that it is often a sign of hindlimb lameness.

The study, conducted at the Centre for Equine Studies at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket , identified a significant link between hind limb lameness and saddle slip, showing consistent saddle slip in some horses with hind limb lameness, even when the lameness was fairly subtle and difficult to detect.

Saddle slip, in which the saddle slips consistently to one side, is a well-recognised problem in sports horses. It can occur for a variety of reasons, including asymmetry in the shape of the horse’s back, riders sitting crookedly and ill-fitting saddles.

Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies, had also observed that saddle slip may occur because of hind limb lameness. The intention of the study, therefore, was to find out more about the interrelationships between the horse, saddle and rider and to document the frequency of occurrence of saddle slip in horses with hind limb lameness compared with other horses.

The research was undertaken by Line Greve, Intern at the Centre for Equine Studies, and Sue Dyson, and was presented at the British Equine Veterinary Association Congress in September 2012. It is thought to be the first study of its kind, and was supported by the Saddle Research Trust (SRT).

The study assessed 128 horses of varying size, age and type. The degree of lameness of each horse was graded; back shape and symmetry were measured and saddles assessed for symmetry and fit. Each horse was ridden by at least two riders and rider straightness plus weight were recorded. The grade of saddle slip, whether it occurred with more than one rider, and whether saddle slip was influenced by the direction of movement or the diagonal on which the rider was sitting were also noted.

The saddle consistently slipped to one side in 54% of horses with hind limb lameness, compared with 4% of horses with fore limb lameness, 0% with back pain and/or sacroiliac joint region pain and 0% of non-lame horses. The saddle usually slipped towards the side of the lame (or more lame) hindleg.

Diagnostic analgesia was subsequently used to abolish the hind limb lameness and this eliminated the saddle slip in 97% of cases.

Sue Dyson said: “Our findings emphasise the need to educate owners, veterinarians, physiotherapists, trainers, riders and saddle fitters that saddle slip is frequently an indicator of lameness, not necessarily a manifestation of an ill-fitting saddle or asymmetric shape of the horse’s back. Detection of saddle slip provides an opportunity for the owner, riders and trainers to detect low-grade and subclinical lameness, with important welfare consequences.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so glad science is finally catching up to us. Some people who have been in horses for several generations and already have an idea not only of how the horses anatomy and the selected equipment affect each horse already knew that a side slip saddle can be so slight an amateur or novice horse person could not notice the horses lameness. Saddle slipage has been a side-effect of several issues in the hide-quarters. Most magazines only have talked to new people in horses regarding back issues and incorrect saddle tree/gullet or skirting. The fact is just having a horse is a science and if you learn it we dont need scientists to confirm it. Most people miss specific data because their expirience is only in the riding and not the personalized care of the horse. Motor skills, way of traveling, thought process, and such have been watered down for new horse owners-i see that alot. Just some actual time around other horses can that have problems can make you realize an unimaginable amount about our equine friends. Besides I ACTUALLY still own books-and in those books some from the 1940's it actually describes with a illustration exactly what this study did. Maybe instead of just randomly waisting money and time you should find books and read them. Then determine what studies should be done. Lets quit dumbing down America! God bless the overpaid and underexpirienced!