Early bird offer ends 1st July - save 15%
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Early bird closing date extended to 1st July!

Don't miss out on the discounted ticket price for the
Saddle Research Trust 2nd International Conference

Save 15% on ticket price until 1st July 2014:

  • Early bird (by July 1st) -  £85 
  • On the door (subject to availability) - £150
  • Concessionary (members of SRT, WHW, BEVA, BETA and registered students) - £75
  • Advance tickets - £100
To book your ticket, click here.
New Members of the SRT Organising Committee

We are pleased to welcome two new members onto the SRT Organising Committee (formerly the SRT Advisory Committee): Amanda Robson, as Honorary Fundraiser and Gary Smith, as Honorary Membership Secretary. Look out for profiles of both Amanda and Gary, which will be added to the website in the near future and included in the next newsletter.
Equine Surfaces White Paper

The FEI has recently published the world’s most extensive study into the effect of arena surfaces on the orthopaedic health of sport horses in the seven FEI disciplines and in racing.

The Equine Surfaces White Paper is the result of a four-year collaboration between eight equine experts from six universities, three equine and racing-specific research and testing centres and two horse charities in Sweden, the UK and United States.

The white paper brings together the latest data and published scientific papers on arena and turf surfaces, and the effects these have on horses in training and in competition.

For more details and to download a copy of the white paper follow this link.
Advice Leaflet - Fitting, Using and Maintaining your Saddle

Compiled by the Animal Health Trust in collaboration with World Horse Welfare, this leaflet is very clear and concise with excellent messages for horse owners and riders. The SRT recommend reading it before buying any saddle. A copy can be downloaded here .
Research Update

Below are copies of SRT press releases about two recent research projects, involving collaborations between SRT research associates. The results of both studies will be presented at the SRT International Conference and Workshop in November/December 2014.
Saddle study reveals high degree of lameness in sports horses

Hind limb lameness is the biggest cause of saddle slip in horses and there is a startling frequency of lameness in the general sports horse population, reveals a new study on the relationship between lameness, saddle slip and back shape.

Saddle slip is usually blamed on poor saddle fit, a crooked rider or asymmetry in the shape of the horse’s back but the first phase of a long-term research project, which was first published in 2012, showed that in fact hind limb lameness is frequently the culprit.

The second phase of the study, conducted by Dr Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and Line Greve, PhD Student at the AHT, has gone on to look at the frequency of saddle slip and the reasons for it, in a large cross-section of the sports horse population.
Of the 506 normal, working sports horses assessed, 46% were classified as lame or having a stiff, stilted canter. Saddle slip occurred in 12% of cases, predominantly in those with hind limb, as opposed to fore limb, lameness.

There was minimal asymmetry of back shape in the horses studied but 37% of the riders sat crookedly, possibly as an effect of the saddle slip rather than as a cause.
“Given these figures, horses with hind limb lameness and gait abnormalities are more than 50 times more likely to have saddle slip than other horses,” said Line Greve. “Furthermore with nearly half of those studied being lame, many horses with lameness are clearly going unrecognised. This study has reinforced our previous work and suggests that further education of riders and trainers is needed, to help them identify saddle slip as an indicator of lameness.”

Full details of this study are reported in an article titled “The interrelationship of lameness, saddle slip and back shape in the general sports horse population”, published in Equine Veterinary Journal, December 2013, available online here.

Below: Saddle and rider slip to left, despite the same rider normally sitting straight and central on other horses.

Video game technology aids horse rider assessment

HORSE riders’ balance, symmetry and poor posture could be improved thanks to an innovative body suit that works with motion sensors, commonly used by movie makers and the video games industry.

New research by Elizabeth Gandy, a senior lecturer in the University of Sunderland’s Department of Computing, Engineering and Technology, uses inertial motion sensors worn in the XsensTM MVN body suit, is now showing promising results as a method of assessing rider asymmetry and lower back pain and injury risk.

The research has been supported by funding from the University’s Faculty of Applied Sciences Digital Innovation research beacon and has now been published in the Sports Technology journal titled: ‘A preliminary investigation of the use of inertial sensing technology for the measurement of hip rotation asymmetry in horse riders’.

Elizabeth said: “Lower back pain affects around one-third of the UK adult population and studies have reported that some of the highest injury rates are to be found in equestrian sports.  Despite this, limited scientific research has been carried out into the effects of asymmetry and poor posture on rider health.

“The incorporation of inertial motion sensors into a body-worn suit is an emerging technology, which provides a non-constraining alternative to video capture for motion analysis. Examples include medical research and applications within the video game and film industries.”

To evaluate the potential of this technology for rider assessment, Elizabeth and colleagues, in collaboration with research associates from the Saddle Research Trust, carried out a postural analysis of 12 riders wearing the XsensTM MVN inertial motion capture suit. Hip angle rotation was measured and software developed to customise the analysis of the data for rider analysis. Results revealed the presence of asymmetry in all of the 12 riders studied, with up to 27° difference between left and right hips, 83 per cent with greater external rotation of the right hip.

“This preliminary study has demonstrated that the use of the inertial motion sensor suit provides an efficient and practical method of assessing riders during a range of movements,” explained Elizabeth. “Furthermore, the technology could potentially provide a tool to meet the needs of riders and coaches, for assessment within training and competitive environments.”

The MNV Biomech is a 3D human kinematic, camera-less measurement system, with integrated small tracking sensors placed on the joints, which can communicate wirelessly with a computer to capture every twist and turn οf the body and is displayed as an avatar and a 3D set of data on screen.

From biomechanics, sports science, nurse training, rehabilitation and ergonomics are just some of the areas the University of Sunderland’s researchers and students are now exploring since investing in the hi-tech suit in 2011, developed by Dutch company Xsens.

Previously used to create the animated alien in the science fiction movie ‘Paul’, the suit works with sensors and can be used in most environments, both internal and external. Previous technology at the university meant any 3D motion capture data had to be recorded via fixed cameras in a lab.

Full details of this study are reported in an article titled “A preliminary investigation of the use of inertial sensing technology for the measurement of hip rotation asymmetry in horse riders”, published by Taylor & Francis Group in Sports Technology on 15/04/2014, available online here.

Newsletter kindly sponsored by Solution Saddles, the market leader in patented, RigidFree saddle design.

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