Reasons for performing study: Saddle fit is well recognised as an
important factor for the health and performance of riding
horses. However, only few studies have addressed general
effects of different saddle construction details within a group
Objective: To assess the influence of girth strap placement,
traditional vs. v-system, and panel flocking material, wool vs.
synthetic foam, on the saddle pressure pattern during riding.
Methods: Six horses were ridden by 3 riders in sitting and rising
trot and sitting canter. Saddle pressure was measured with
3 different saddle variants: 1) wool flocked panels and
traditional girthing (baseline); 2) wool flocked panels and
v-system girthing; and 3) foam filled panels and traditional
girthing. From the pressure data, a number of descriptive
variables were extracted. These were analysed using
ANCOVAmodels with horse, rider, saddle, seat (sitting/rising,
trot only) and speed as independent variables.
Results: With foam filled panels stride maximum pressures
under the hind part of the saddle increased by 7–12% and the
area under the saddle with a stride mean pressure >11 kPa
increased by 114 cm2 in trot and 127 cm2 in canter. With
v-system girthing, the latter variable also increased, but only
by 53 and 38 cm2 in trot and canter, respectively. In addition,
stride maximum pressures under the front part of the saddle
tended to increase (!9%).
Conclusions: Both flocking material and girthing have a
significant influence on the saddle pressure and should thus
be considered in saddle fitting. Wool seems a better flocking
material than foam of the type used in the current study. For
girthing, traditional placement seems equally good if not
better than the v-system. However, further studies are needed
to show if these results are valid for a larger population of