Tough job for panel to award saddle fitting scholarship

Rebecca Howsam has won the Saddle Research Trust's scholarship to attend the certification course on the "Principles of Saddle Fitting".
Rebecca Howsam has won the Saddle Research Trust’s scholarship to attend the certification course on the “Principles of Saddle Fitting”.

A British based equine researcher has topped a field of high quality applicants from around the world for a scholarship to a certification course on saddle fitting.

Rebecca Howsam, who has a degree in Equestrian Psychology and Sports Science, has won the first scholarship to be awarded by the Saddle Research Trust (SRT). The scholarship attracted applicants from around the world including candidates from Australia, New Zealand, Finland, USA, Czech Republic and Spain.

Howsam has just been awarded a first class honours degree from Nottingham Trent University. Her final year dissertation investigated the effects of different saddle pads on pressure exerted beneath a saddle across equine gaits. Howsam aims to continue her studies with a Master’s degree researching equine performance. Her enthusiasm and experience with saddles has also been demonstrated by her time spent working alongside a qualified saddle fitter and her attendance at the Society of Master Saddlers’ introductory saddle fitting course.

The scholarship covers all fees to enable the successful candidate to attend the four-day “Principles of Saddle Fitting” certification course to be held at Writtle College in August this year. The course, delivered by Dr Anne Bondi BHSI, Director of the Saddle Research Trust, focuses on the three-element interaction of horse, saddle and rider. The content provides a wide-ranging mix of theory and practical sessions that give an evidence-based approach to practice.

“I am thrilled to have won this superb SRT Scholarship. It will be highly beneficial for my future career because saddles and saddle fitting, particularly in relation to the improvement of equine performance and welfare, are the areas that I intend to pursue,” Howsam said.

The award panel consisted of SRT Trustees Catherine Holborn, Joanna Talbot and Annie Pollock, SRT Advisory Committee members Dr Sue Dyson and Professor Patricia Harris and Dr Nicole Rombach, Director of Equinenergy, the educational organisation that organises the saddle fitting course. The panel had a tough job to select an outright winner from such a quality field and when the first round resulted in a draw, a second of voting was held. Incredibly, this again resulted in a draw which was only resolved when the SRT Director made the casting vote.

Dr. Bondi said she made the casting vote for Howsam because of the enthusiasm and motivation shown to use the knowledge and apply it to help within the industry. “Her academic knowledge combined with her practical skills has the potential to make a huge impact to the welfare and performance of her future clients, which is exactly what this award is designed to do. The SRT is very proud to be able to help an up-and-coming young professional enhance their skills.”

The Saddle Research Trust was founded in 2009 to promote the welfare of the ridden horse and to raise awareness of the widely underestimated issues surrounding saddles, equine backs and performance. Its aims include education, support of scientific research, translation of scientific evidence and dissemination of information.

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