The effect of tree width on thoracolumbar and limb kinematics, saddle pressure distribution, and thoracolumbar dimensions in sports horses in trot and canter

Russell MacKechnie-Guire, Erik MacKechnie-Guire, Vanessa Fairfax, Diana Fisher, Mark Fisher, Thilo Pfau

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study evaluated the effect of saddle tree width on thoracolumbar and limb kinematics, saddle pressure distribution, and thoracolumbar epaxial musculature dimensions. Correctly fitted saddles were fitted by a Society of Master Saddler Qualified Saddle Fitter in fourteen sports horses (mean ± SD age 12 ± 8.77 years, height 1.65 ± 0.94 m), and were altered to one width fitting wider and narrower. Horses were equipped with skin markers, inertial measurement units, and a pressure mat beneath the saddle. Differences in saddle pressure distribution, as well as limb and thoracolumbosacral kinematics between saddle widths were investigated using a general linear model with Bonferroni adjusted alpha (p = 0.05). Compared with the correct saddle width, in trot, in the wide saddle, an 8.5% increase in peak pressures was found in the cranial region of the saddle (p = 0.003), a 14% reduction in thoracolumbar dimensions at T13 (p = 0.02), and a 6% decrease in the T13 range of motion in the mediolateral direction (p = 0.02). In the narrow saddle, a 14% increase in peak pressures was found in the caudal region of the saddle (p = 0.01), an 8% decrease in the range of motion of T13 in the mediolateral direction (p = 0.004), and a 6% decrease in the vertical direction (p = 0.004) of T13. Compared with the correct saddle width, in canter, in the wide saddle, axial rotation decreased by 1% at T5 (p = 0.03) with an 5% increase at T13 (p = 0.04) and a 5% increase at L3 (p = 0.03). Peak pressures increased by 4% (p = 0.002) in the cranial region of the wide saddle. Altering the saddle fit had an effect on thoracolumbar kinematics and saddle pressure distribution; hence, correct saddle fit is essential to provide unhindered locomotion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimals
Volume9
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Equine
  • Locomotion
  • Saddle fitting
  • Thoracolumbar region

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