Saddle fit is dynamic and changes as speed increases

Kieffer norbert Koof

This saddle fits Freedom extremely well — it works at all gaits, allowing him to lift his back and use his body effectively.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Zürich and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences confirmed that saddle fit is dynamic and influenced by even modest increases in speed within a gait.

Researchers found that a 10 percent increase within each speed range resulted in a 5 percent increase in the total saddle force peak at the walk, and a 14 percent increase at the trot.

The Swiss and Swedish researchers based their findings on data gathered from sensors that monitored seven dressage horses ridden on a treadmill in their regular tack, walking at speeds from 1.3 to 1.8 metres per second, and trotting speeds from 2.6 to 3.6 metres per second.

The motion of the horse and rider, vertical ground reaction forces and saddle forces were measured simultaneously. The study showed increasing velocity significantly accentuates the basic motion pattern of the respective gait and consequently exerted a distinct formative influence on the saddle forces.

At the walk, increased velocity could accentuate a rocking type of movement of the horse’s back.

At the trot, saddle movement was influenced by the vertical oscillation of the horse and rider, the resulting higher ground reaction force peaks and the stiffening of the horse’s back.

The bottom line?

It’s not enough for your saddle to fit when your horse is stationary; you need to work with a fitter who understands dynamic fit and who can make sure that the fit will work even while the horse is in motion.

The study was supported by a grant from the Stiftung Forschung für das Pferd (Research Foundation for the Horse).

Influence of velocity on horse and rider movement and resulting saddle forces at walk and trot
S. Bogisch, K. Geser-Von Peinen, T. Wiestner, L. Roepstorff and M.A. Weishaupt.
Comparative Exercise Physiology, 2014; 10 (1): 23-32 DOI 10.3920/CEP13025

Want to be in the movies?

Paperpony casting

Paperpony Casting is looking for riders for a period drama . . .

If you are still having Lord of the Ring equestrian fantasies — or wish you’d ridden in the Lady Mary steeplechase scene on Downton Abby, check out this casting call from Paperpony Casting. Wrong continent for me, but wouldn’t it be fun?

ONCE AGAIN looking for very experienced riders to appear in the background of TV series. You do not need your own horse or transport but please do not apply if you are a novice rider. All riders will be put through competency tests before being accepted. You can be called at short notice so availability is key here. Filming over next few months.
We are looking for :
for guys and girls of all ages. Natural hair colour. Full availability during week or part of the week. Can get to Cumbernauld at silly o’clock. Won’t moan about the Long hours and who are very, very reliable and friendly and who wouldn’t mind helping out with horses whilst on set.
If you want to be included this year, your challenge is to email a recent head and shoulder shot against a white wall in good natural light.
And a photo or two of you riding / jumping.
Please no crazy hair ( you not horse) _ it’s a period drama!
Include your sizes:
Head size in inches
High hip ( fattest part)
Inside leg boys
Please be 100% accurate
I also need all of your contact details. You will need your passport handy (if you have one ) and NI no.
Rates vary but are decent.
Look forward to hearing from you all soon.
PLEASE, Please. No time wasters.
References will be required ( and checked) before you are accepted for this job :o)
Reply to :
Thank you!
Alex @Paperpony. Casting

— with Ronnie Goodwin – what a star.

Signs of spring

Rabbit tracks

Little critters are out and about again, after hiding away for the winter.

Now that we’ve had a few days of warmer weather — just a tease, really — I’m starting to see the frozen tundra of a landscape come alive.

We had a dusting of snow the other day and the next morning, there were rabbit tracks all over. It made me realize that for a long time, I saw no tracks. Even the deer have re-emerged after being nearly invisible all winter long. This morning their were eight deer in my backyard, including one right outside my living room window, munching merrily away on a bush.

I still haven’t been able to ride. Although much of the snow has melted, there’s still almost a foot on the ground in many places and it’s so compacted and hard, the horses want no part of going through it. Plus the repeated cycles of melting and freezing have sheets of ice on all of the areas that were cleared.

Hunting is supposed to start on April 14th but the idea of being able to go out and ride through fields seems like it’s more than a month away. I sure hope I’m wrong.

First the good news


Freedom’s injured foot is so much better. It will still take a long time to fully resolve, but at least the gaping wound has healed.

You might remember that Freedom stepped on his foot a few months back. It happened in the blink of an eye and the wound took forever to heal. Back in January, I reported that we were having issues with proud flesh (Bad Luck Comes in Threes). The good news is that it’s finally better. Two months of deep snow helped keep it iced and clean. A nifty product called PF Wonder Salve, applied every couple of days, helped it heal. I can’t imagine what a nightmare it would have been had the horses been ankle deep in mud.

There will be some long term implications: the hoof capsule is distorted and he will need some extra support as it all grows out, but I’m thrilled with the progress.

PF Wonder Salve

The product helped the wound heal and restricted the growth of proud flesh.

Of course, the bad news is also a result of the snow. While Freedom’s front hooves look good, his hinds are not-so-great. Normally, in the winter I pull his shoes and he emerges in the spring with beautiful feet. The nail holes grow out and the hoof is generally hard and healthy.

Not this year. The hard ground we had earlier left him with very little hoof wall to nail to and bruises on his soles. The deep snow and the cold have meant that he hasn’t moved around much, even though he’s been turned out. Certainly the snow has helped cushion his feet but little movement = less growth. I’ve started him on a hoof supplement and I’m hoping that now that it’s starting to warm up, he’ll start to move around more and get the blood flowing through those hooves.

I haven’t been able to ride since January, so I don’t know yet how tender his feet are under saddle. I’m thinking that he may need hoof boots in the spring to keep him comfortable — those, or glue on shoes. I’ve heard really good things about glue ons in every aspect except for price!

Have any of you tried them? It will be awhile before his hind feet can hold shoes and with his tender TB soles, he will need some protection.

Signs of Spring — At Last!

Melting snow

Just a few weeks ago, all you could see were a few ears and noses. Now the ponies are rising victorious from the snow.

The Northeast is finally starting the great thaw and the promise of Spring is in the warmth of the sun, the welcome site of pavement on my driveway, and the massive amounts of horse hair coming off Freedom and Zelda in clumps.

I’ve never been so glad to experience shedding!

Yesterday the temperatures here in the Boston area were in the high 50s and although we are, once again, expecting a “wintery mix” over the weekend, seeds of hope have been planted.

The horses haven't been blanket free for weeks.

The horses haven’t been blanket free for weeks.

For the first time in months the horses are walking around naked. I’d pretty much forgotten what they looked like sans blankets, but I’m happy to report that they are all fat, happy and hairy. They are rolling in the snow with great joy and snoozing in the warmth of the sun.

Much though I resent waking up an hour earlier each morning, the extra hour of daylight in the afternoons is a gift.

Keep thinking spring!