Bridles & Baubles

Slippery Slope

A new study has identified a significant link between hind limb lameness and saddle slip (when the saddle slips off center during riding) even when that lameness is fairly subtle and difficult to detect in horses. Saddle slip can often be attributed to the shape of the horse's back, a poor fitting saddle or a rider sitting crookedly but according to this study it can also be an early indicator of a back leg problem. 

Consistent saddle slipping can lead to back pain and impair performance therefore it is important to understand the underlying causes and work to correct any problems. If you notice your saddle regularly slips to one side ask your vet to do a thorough check and hopefully uncover and solve any problems before they get worse. This is another great tool that riders can use to evaluate the health and well-being of their horse.

The Study By The Numbers:

128 horses were examined by the Animal Health Trust

71 of those horses had hindlimb lameness

54% of the lame horses had saddle slip

97% of these had saddle slip abolished when the lameness was eliminated

Dr Sue Dyson who oversaw the study said, “Our findings emphasise the need to educate owners, veterinarians, physiotherapists, trainers, riders and saddle fitters that saddle slip is frequently an indicator of lameness, not necessarily a manifestation of an ill-fitting saddle or asymmetric shape of the horse’s back. Detection of saddle slip provides an opportunity for the owner, riders and trainers to detect low-grade and subclinical lameness, with important welfare consequences.”

If your horse doesn't have saddle slip but you still want to protect his back while riding, I highly recommend this Gel-Eze Sheepskin Half Pad. The Gel-eze Sheepskin Half Pad combines the natural benefits of sheepskin with the technical aspects of Gel-eze to offer cushioning and protection at the shoulder, under the point of the saddle tree, and either side of the spine. Ideal for big moving horses, the Gel-eze Sheepskin Pad offers the perfect solution to sensitive backed horses giving them the natural benefits of top quality sheepskin against their skin (shock-absorbing, moisture-wicking, and thermoregulating), as well as offering extra protection through innovative Gel-eze pads. Available at Mary's Tack & Feed.