Dynamic pressure effect on horse and horse rider during riding


Horse riding predisposes to degenerative spinal injury to both rider and horse. This study evaluated the dynamic pressure exerted on horse and horse rider. The main comparison investigated was how the flocking (cushioning) material of a saddle affected the pressure exerted on both. Six horse riders and one horse were used to conduct this study. The Pliance® horse saddle and seat pressure testing systems, designed by NovelGmBH, were used for this study. Pressure recordings were carried out from a saddle fitted with wool then again following its conversion to air flocking. Both flocking materials were tested during a variety of different gait settings using two pressure mats to record the pressures firstly being exerted onto the horse and secondly onto the rider. This study was the first carried out to examine the pressure exerted on horse and rider. Results found that both the mean peak pressure (MPP) and mean pressure–time integral (PTI) exerted on the rider increased by as much as 21.9 and 22 %, respectively, following conversion to air flocking. In contrast, the air flocking saddle exerted a lower MPP and PTI on the horse by as much as 25.3 and 26.6 %, respectively. This study has shown that air flocking reduces the pressure exerted on the horse; however, it has also indicated that it increased the pressures exerted on the rider. As a result of our study, further research needs to be conducted to determine the most appropriate material to flock a saddle with.

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Correspondence to Rami J. Abboud.

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Nicol, G., Arnold, G.P., Wang, W. et al. Dynamic pressure effect on horse and horse rider during riding. Sports Eng 17, 143–150 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12283-014-0149-z

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  • Lower Back Pain
  • Ground Reaction Force
  • Gait Cycle
  • Pressure Testing
  • Left Front