New scheme to help combat saddle problems

A new dimension in synthetic saddles is on the horizon.The Saddle Research Trust has launched a new referral scheme to help riders tackle saddle-related problems.

The scheme, which will be highlighted at the Saddle Research Trust International Conference in Cambridge, England, this November, gives riders access to the expertise and advice of a world-leading authority at a manageable cost.

Riders often relate saddle-fitting problems and equine back pain to loss of performance. Recent studies have shown that horses with saddle slip syndrome were more than 50 times likely to be lame or have gait abnormalities; that 46 percent of horses were lame or had gait abnormalities; and that 43 percent of saddles were ill-fitting.

However, lameness can often be difficult to recognise which can lead to potential welfare problems for the horse and can have implications for the rider as well.

A further study has identified a clear link between ill-fitting saddles and back pain in the rider.

The trust received around two requests every week for advice on saddle-related issues, its founder, Anne Bondi said.

“Many horse owners report that they feel trapped in a seemingly unending cycle of  veterinary/musculoskeletal/saddle-fit assessments without ever determining the underlying cause of the problem.

“The lack of a definitive diagnosis can be expensive but most importantly has the potential to result in a permanently damaged horse.”

The new referral scheme, exclusive to trust members and friends, aims to help owners resolve their saddle-related problems.

Potential cases can be submitted to the trust for an initial assessment and if deemed suitable will be passed, with the permission of the owner’s usual vet, to the trust’s veterinary adviser, Dr Sue Dyson, at Britain’s Animal Health Trust in Newmarket for a full assessment at a fixed cost of £335 plus VAT.

Dyson is a world-renowned expert in equine orthopaedics, with a particular interest in lameness and poor performance in sports horses. She is a British Horse Society Instructor, who has trained horses and competed to advanced level eventing, Grade A showjumping, and medium level dressage.

Dyson has the additional advantage of a real rider’s perspective.

She will conduct an independent and thorough review of the past history plus an examination of the horse, saddle and rider interaction, including physical and visual evaluations as well as in-hand, ridden and saddle fit assessments.

A written report will then be provided for the owner and their associated professional practitioners.

Dyson said the trust hads taken a valuable step forward in raising standards of welfare and practice in the industry with this important referral scheme and she was pleased to support it.

The trust international conference will be held in Cambridge on November 29 at Anglia Ruskin University. The conference is supported by World Horse Welfare and is approved by the British Equine Veterinary Association. Advance tickets are £100 or £150 on the door. Email or telephone 07775 912202 to reserve a place. For more information, and to see the programme, visit

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