If your own back hurts after you ride, check the fit of your horse’s saddle and whether the horse is sound.
A new study from England shows a relation-ship between back pain in riders and poor saddle fit. Researchers at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket conducted a clinical assessment of 205 horses, evaluated how well the saddle fitted each horse and reviewed questionnaires completed by their regular riders.
The collected data showed that the 38.5 percent of questionnaire respondents reporting back pain were more likely than other riders to be using saddles that did not fit their horses well. The researchers also found that there was an association between rider back pain and a horse with either a stiff, stilted canter or being short-strided all round. The researchers recommend that saddles be checked at least twice a year to identify poor fit, to reduce adverse effects on both horses and their riders.
Reference: “Saddle fit and management: An investigation of the association with equine thoracolumbar asymmetries, horse and rider health,” Equine Veterinary Journal, June 2014
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #443.