Reasons for performing study: Little is known in quantitative terms about the influence of different head‐neck positions (HNPs) on the loading pattern of the locomotor apparatus. Therefore it is difficult to predict whether a specific riding technique is beneficial for the horse or if it may increase the risk for injury.
Objective: To improve the understanding of forelimb‐hindlimb balance and its underlying temporal changes in relation to different head and neck positions.
Methods: Vertical ground reaction force and time parameters of each limb were measured in 7 high level dressage horses while being ridden at walk and trot on an instrumented treadmill in 6 predetermined HNPs: HNP1 ‐ free, unrestrained with loose reins; HNP2 ‐ neck raised, bridge of the nose in front of the vertical; HNP3 ‐ neck raised, bridge of the nose behind the vertical; HNP4 ‐ neck lowered and flexed, bridge of the nose considerably behind the vertical; HNP5 ‐ neck extremely elevated and bridge of the nose considerably in front of the vertical; HNP6 ‐ neck and head extended forward and downward. Positions were judged by a qualified dressage judge. HNPs were assessed by comparing the data to a velocity‐matched reference HNP (HNP2). Differences were tested using paired t test or Wilcoxon signed rank test (P<0.05).
Results: At the walk, stride duration and overreach distance increased in HNP1, but decreased in HNP3 and HNP5. Stride impulse was shifted to the forehand in HNP1 and HNP6, but shifted to the hindquarters in HNP5. At the trot, stride duration increased in HNP4 and HNP5. Overreach distance was shorter in HNP4. Stride impulse shifted to the hindquarters in HNP5. In HNP1 peak forces decreased in the forelimbs; in HNP5 peak forces increased in fore‐ and hindlimbs.
Conclusions: HNP5 had the biggest impact on limb timing and load distribution and behaved inversely to HNP1 and HNP6. Shortening of forelimb stance duration in HNP5 increased peak forces although the percentage of stride impulse carried by the forelimbs decreased.
Potential relevance: An extremely high HNP affects functionality much more than an extremely low neck.
Reasons for performing study: A comprehensive kinematic description of rider and saddle movements is not yet present in the scientific literature.
Objective: To describe saddle and rider movements in a group of high‐level dressage horses and riders.
Method: Seven high‐level dressage horses and riders were subjected to kinematic measurements while performing collected trot on a treadmill. For analysis a rigid body model for the saddle and core rider segments, projection angles of the rider's extremities and the neck and trunk of the horse, and distances between markers selected to indicate rider position were used.
Results: For a majority of the variables measured it was possible to describe a common pattern for the group. Rotations around the transverse axis (pitch) were generally biphasic for each diagonal. During the first half of stance the saddle rotated anticlockwise and the rider's pelvis clockwise viewed from the right and the rider's lumbar back extended. During the later part of stance and the suspension phase reverse pitch rotations were observed. Rotations of the saddle and core rider segments around the longitudinal (roll) and vertical axes (yaw) changed direction only around time of contact of each diagonal.
Conclusion: The saddles and riders of high‐level dressage horses follow a common movement pattern at collected trot. The movements of the saddle and rider are clearly related to the movements of the horse and saddle movements also seem to be influenced by the rider.
Potential relevance: Knowledge about rider and saddle movements can further our understanding of, and hence possibilities to prevent, orthopaedic injuries related to the exposure of the horse to a rider and saddle.
SummaryReasons for performing the study: Similar to human decubitus ulcers, local high pressure points from ill-fitting saddles induce perfusion disturbances of different degrees resulting in tissue hypoxia and alteration in sweat production. Objective: To relate the different clinical manifestations of saddle sores to the magnitude of saddle pressures at the location of the withers.
Methods: Sixteen horses with dry spots after exercise (Group A)and 7 cases presented with acute clinical signs of saddle pressure in the withers area (Group B) were compared with a control group of 16 sound horses with well fitting saddles (Group C). All horses underwent a saddle pressure measurement at walk, trot and canter. Mean and maximal pressures in the area of interest were compared between groups within each gait. Results: Mean pressures differed significantly between groups in all 3 gaits. Maximal pressure differed between groups at trot; at walk and canter, however, the only significant difference was between Group C and Groups A and B, respectively, (P>0.05). Mean and maximal pressures at walk in Group A were 15.3 and 30.6 kPa, in Group B 24.0 and 38.9 kPa and in Group C 7.8 and 13.4 kPa, respectively; at trot in Group A 18.1 and 43.4 kPa, in Group B 29.7 and 53.3 kPa and in Group C 9.8 and 21.0 kPa, respectively; and at canter in Group A 21.4 and 48.9 kPa, in Group B 28.6 and 56.0 kPa and in Group C 10.9 and 24.7 kPa, respectively. Conclusion: The study shows that there is a distinguishable difference between the 3 groups regarding the mean pressure value, in all gaits.
Relationship between the forces acting on the horse's back and the movements of rider and horse while walking on a treadmill von Peinen, K von Peinen, K. Relationship between the forces acting on the horse's back and the movements of rider and horse while walking on a treadmill. 2009 Relationship between the forces acting on the horse's back and the movements of rider and horse while walking on a treadmill Abstract Reasons for performing the study: The exact relationship between the saddle pressure pattern during one stride cycle and the movements of horse and rider at the walk are poorly understood and have never been investigated in detail. Hypothesis: The movements of rider and horse account for the force distribution pattern under the saddle. Method: Vertical ground reaction forces (GRF), kinematics of horse and rider as well as saddle forces (FS) were measured synchronously in 7 high level dressage horses while being ridden on an instrumented treadmill at walk. Discrete values of the total saddle forces (FStot) were determined for each stride and related to kinematics and GRF. The pressure sensitive mat was divided into halves and sixths to assess the force distribution over the horses back in more detail. Differences were tested using a one sample t-test (p<0.05). Results: FStot of all the horses showed 3 peaks (P1-P3) and 3 minima (M1-M3) in each half-cycle, which were systematically related to the footfall sequence of the walk. Looking at the halves of the mat, force curves were 50% phase-shifted. The analysis of the FS of the 6 sections showed a clear association to the rider's and horse's movements. Conclusion: The saddle force distribution during an entire stride cycle has a distinct pattern although the force fluctuations of the FStot are small. The forces in the front thirds were clearly related to the movement of the front limbs, those in the mid part to the lateral flexion of the horse's spine and the loading of the hind part was mainly influenced by the axial rotation and lateral bending of the back. Potential relevance: This data can be used as a reference for comparing different types of saddle fit.
The literature suggests that the rider's influence on the movement pattern of the horse is the strongest at walk. For assessment of the horse-rider interaction in dressage horses presented for unsatisfactory performance, evaluations at walk may therefore be the most rewarding. Basic knowledge about rider and saddle movements in well-performing horses is likely to be supportive to this task.
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