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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Saddle Research Trust Rides the Crest of an Equestrian Science Wave

What's the most interesting equine research organization that's not on your radar (yet)? Meet the Saddle Research Trust.

The Saddle Research Trust (SRT) was founded in 2009 to promote the welfare of the ridden horse and to raise awareness of the widely underestimated issues surrounding saddles, equine backs and performance. They've hosted conferences, supported research and initiated an innovative research-associate program.

We all take saddles for granted but anyone who works professionally with horses also knows that saddles can be an "x" factor in a horse's performance--or a rider's, for that matter. It seems there is more we don't know, scientifically speaking, than we do know, when it comes to the interaction between a a horse's musculo-skeletal system, a saddle, and a rider.

The Saddle Research Trust is a charitable organization aiming to provide support and advice, both to the horse-owning public and to industry professionals. Its board of trustees and advisory committee include leading veterinary professionals, physiotherapists, saddlers, riders and trainers.

Where does asymmetry begin--or end? What's the relationship between asymmetry and lameness or diminished performance? The Saddle Research Trust wants to know. (SRT photo)
Dr. Sue Dyson, head of clinical orthopedics at the Animal Health Trust and a member of the advisory committee of the SRT explains: “Back and saddle problems are major factors associated with loss of performance and lameness and have serious welfare implications. Through scientific research on the interaction of the saddle with the horse and rider, the SRT aims to provide new information, support and advice to the horse owning public and to industry professionals to improve the health and performance of both horse and rider.”

Trust Director Anne Bondi is currently undertaking a Doctoral Research Program at the University of Sunderland in Great Britain; she is studying the interaction of horses, saddles and riders. The SRT facilitates collaborations between its Research Associates and promotes objective scientific research in order to further its aims.

Research into saddle fit, back pain and rider posture employ many of the techniques and systems used in equine gait and locomotion studies. (SRT photo)

What does the future hold for the Saddle Research Trust?

SRT Director Anne Bondi: “We have a series of important scientific projects in the pipeline, working in collaboration with the Animal Health Trust and the Royal Veterinary College, to explore the relationships between back shape, saddle fit, back movement and performance of the horse and rider.”

Position available

The Saddle Research Trust (SRT) is urgently seeking an honorary fundraiser to help progress some exciting new scientific research on the influence of the saddle on the welfare and performance of horses and riders.

If you have a passion for horses and a good working knowledge of fundraising and wish to be involved with making a real and long-term difference to the welfare and performance of riding horses globally the SRT would be delighted to hear from you.

Please contact Anne Bondi on (UK) 07775 912202 or email

Some things we take for granted--saddle, girth, stirrups, pads--don't have much scientific documentation. The SRT would like to change that. (SRT photo)

About the research centers:

The Equine Centre of the Animal Health Trust, a UK based charitable organisation, is dedicated to enhancing equine welfare through improved understanding and treatment of disease in horses, especially related to lameness and poor performance. Led by Sue Dyson and Rachel Murray, its work is world renowned for advances in equine orthopaedic injury and diagnostic imaging.

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's first and largest veterinary school and a constituent College of the University of London. It also provides support for veterinary and related professions through its three referral hospitals, diagnostic services and continuing professional development courses.

The world's leading reference book documenting equine hoof anatomy and imaging can be yours.

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