Graph showing pressure points
produced by saddle fitting scan
A correctly fitted saddle is essential to the performance and comfort of any horse or pony - a badly fitted saddle can cause lameness, painful saddle sores and behavioural problems.
New mobile computerised saddle fitting systems have now been developed to review the fit and give horse owners and riders an accurate record of how a saddle fits their horse or pony.
This new computer technology provides colour imaging of the saddle area highlighting contact and pressure points.
Most of these systems use a thin sensitive pad, containing pressure sensors, placed under the saddle; like a numnah.
Once the pad is in place under the saddle the horse is ridden or lunged in walk, trot and canter - and the pressure points detected. This data is then uploaded using a wireless link to a laptop computer.
The results of the saddle fitting scan are usually shown as a coloured graph image, as shown in the above illustration, where red highlights where the most pressure from the saddle is ocurring.
A record of the test can be saved for the horse owner to keep for future reference.
This can be used to help fit saddles for horses with awkward back shapes, or to help diagnose equine problems caused by a saddle that may otherwise appear to fit.
Although its not impossible to get a good fit without a computer analysis, these systems can pinpoint potential problems quickly and easily. In the future these computerised saddle fitting systems may be a common piece of equipment in equestrian centres and equine veterinary hospitals.
The systems could also prove useful in demonstrating to riders how the way that they ride affects the pressure on a horse's back.
A well fitting saddle is essential for top performance