Dr Katja von Peinen had come over from the University of Zurich for the Conference and workshops, and was a very enthusiastic speaker. Her lecture was delivered in pretty much flawless English, so I’m sure a couple of typos on the slides can be overlooked! It was a fascinating lecture.
[I’ve used as many pics of the slides as I can, as I thought the photos and images were very helpful. If you click on any of the pictures, it’ll change to a much large version that’s easier to read.]
Her opening remark really got our attention:
Q: “What saddle should I buy for my horse?
A: “The one that fits.”
What does a well-fitting saddle look like?
Physics: force, spread over area.
In studies, they were measuring pressure – also the ground force of horse’s strides. To see where the pressure was coming from.)
Only certain materials are able to adapt to such fast changes in pressure distribution.
Use quality wool for flocking.
‘Sandwich panels’ use wool and foam.
Memory foam is NOT the material to use – it doesn’t react fast enough to the changes. It is not used any more in panels.
Memory foam compresses in high-pressure areas and then does not react/relax fast enough when the pressure is removed, then pressed again… so, more pressure is transferred.
Blue and green colours – maximal pressure picture
Difference in walk and posting trot.
“Posting trot is the worst thing you can do.”
Pressure pictures show if saddle is not fitting:
Red shows asymmetric muscle tension.
When rider stands up in the stirrups at trot, the saddle can pinch on the withers as the horse steps forward.
What pressure harms the horse?
“Must be able to interpret the pretty pictures the right way.”
Effects on the horse of an ill-fitting saddle: (in ascending order of damage, from clockwise at bottom of pic)
Dry patch, curly hair, white spots or white patches, swelling on saddle area, open sores.
If the horse is being pinched, it will be hollowing, not wanting to round.
V girth on saddle always gives a higher pressure.
Foam panels are worse if the saddle does not fit.
Foam is “Meaner to the horse.”
Different trees give different pressure.
Decide whether it is rider, saddle, or horse which creates the pressure?
Some saddle pads worsen pressure under the saddle because the materials cannot react fast enough with the changes.
Lowest pressure was preferred, particularly by (younger) blood horses.
In her opinion, if you want to use a pad:
sheepskin adapts to pressure changes best, but only IF the saddle was FITTED with the sheepskin pad.
Dr Katja said that she would ideally like to have more funding to be able to do studies into the many different materials on the market (pads, saddle pads etc).