Back pain is a common and poorly understood clinical problem. An important factor in this regard is the induction or exacerbation of back pain from badly designed or poorly fitting saddles. This study used a pressure-sensing mat to investigate saddle fit. The aims of the study were to confirm the accuracy and reliability of the force-sensing array technology when used to measure pressure beneath the saddles of horses, and to collect some initial data from normal healthy horses with well-fitting saddles. Experiments were undertaken to establish that a linear relationship existed between the total force (weight) exerted and the pressure measured beneath the saddle, using both a wooden horse and a live horse in the standing position. Further studies were performed to demonstrate that characteristic changes of the centre of pressure occur while horses move at the walk, sitting trot, rising trot, and canter.
Copyright 1999 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.