same for the conventional and treeless saddles, which was to be expected given that the rider’s weight and riding style were the same for both saddles.
However, the way in which the pressure was distributed beneath the two saddles was very di erent.
In the conventional treed saddle, the tree performed as intended, spreading the rider’s weight fairly evenly over a large area of the horse’s back that corresponded with the shape of the long, broad saddle panels.
Ere was a large area of contact: on average 1,340 cm2, compared with an average contact area of 1,153 cm2 for the treeless saddle.
As a consequence of having a smaller weight-bearing area, the treeless saddle showed higher average pressure over all the weighted sensors.
In addition, the treeless saddle produced higher maximal pressure readings in any individual sensor, with a larger number of sensors showing an average pressure greater than 11 kPa, which is equivalent to approximately 230 lb/ft2.
Is amount of pressure is recognized as a threshold level above which saddle sores may be induced.
E high-pressure areas for the treeless saddle were located under the middle of the seat, immediately beneath the rider’s seat bones.
E pressure maps shown in Figure 2 are from the same horse with the two saddles and are representative of the patterns seen in all eight horses.
Ese highpressure areas overlie the horses’ long back muscles, and it is known that muscle tissue is particularly vulnerable to pressure-induced damage.
With regard to interpretation of these results, keep in mind that the study looked at only one brand and model of treeless saddle, which is not necessarily representative of all treeless saddles.
Other treeless saddles may perform di erently and may have a di erent pattern of force distribution.
However, a European study that evaluated di erences among racing saddles with and without trees yielded very similar results.
E treeless racing saddle concentrated pressure in 34 July/August 2012 • USDF CONNECTION COURTESY OF THE MCPHAIL EQUINE PERFORMANCE CENTER Figure 2.
Pressure scans at the moment of maximal total force for the conventional saddle (up) and the treeless saddle (above) in the same horse.
Both images are recorded at the same pressure scale shown on the right of the image.
E front of the saddle is at the top of the image.
Top the area beneath the rider’s center of gravity; in posting trot, pressure was concentrated under the rear of the seat, whereas in the racing seat the areas of high pressure moved to the front of the saddle.
It should also be noted that the saddles in our research study were used without pads, which is a necessary rst step in understanding how the rider’s weight is transmitted through the saddle.
Because treeless saddles would normally be used with a pad to assist in force dissipation, a logical next step would be to evaluate USDF CONNECTION • July/August 2012 35 horse-health connection the performance of di erent types of pads used in combination with a treeless saddle.
Motion, rider size and shape, and the mechanics of di erent gaits.
Electronic analysis of saddle forces and pressures is useful for quantifying saddle t dynamically; it provides information that is not available by observing and palpating saddle t in the standing horse.
As a result of our ndings, we concluded that a saddle tree is bene cial in distributing the rider’s weight over a larger area and in distributing the pressure more evenly over the firstname.lastname@example.org Study Shows: Properly Fitted Treed Saddle Best for Most Horses Saddle t is a complex issue that requires consideration of the multi-dimensional shape of the horse’s back, changes in back shape during loco- Nutrena/USDF Adult Clinic Series
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