The Effect of Rider Stirrup Length on Pressure beneath the Saddle.

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation at Conference


    Introduction: Pressure beneath the saddle of riders is a fairly recent area of interest for scientists, due to its use in rider position analysis and the reported negative effects on the horse of ill-distributed pressure (DeCocq et al, 2006; Von Peinen et al, 2010). Greater understanding of the factors affecting the distribution of this pressure will allow the development of more informed riding and management practices. The aim of this study was to compare pressure under the saddle of riders riding with different length stirrups.

    Material & Methods: Eight competent riders (mean weight ±sd = 66 ±5 kg, at least British Horse Society stage 2), rode a Racewood event simulator at a sitting trot. Data were taken from the riders at a stirrup length level with lateral malleolus (medial length) and at longer and shorter stirrup lengths (± mean x cm, 2 holes). The pressure distribution beneath their saddle was recorded for the 30 second sampling period using a Tekscan pressure measuring system and then analysed using IBM SPSS v24.0 for a significant difference between stirrup lengths (significance judged using p<0.05).
    Results: There was no significant effect of altering stirrup length on the total pressure, maximal sensor pressure or pressure distribution between the saddle of the rider. The total and maximal pressure readings showed strong positive correlation with rider weight, only when stirrups were aligned with riders’ lateral malleolus. There was also highest inter-rider variation at this medial length. Total loading was repeatedly higher in the cranial third, but maximal sensor pressures were generally located in the caudal third.
    Discussion & Conclusions: The results suggest that, at longer or shorter stirrup lengths, participants riding became more similar. This is potentially as a result of similar coping strategies to cope with a new leg position. Additionally, at stirrup lengths longer and shorter than the medial lengths, rider’s weight did not correlate with saddle pressure. This implies that the force of the rider is being distributed elsewhere in these positions. Consistently with previous research (Freuwirth, et al., 2004) the majority of the pressure was exerted beneath the cranial third of the saddle and the caudal third had large maximal pressures suggesting different regions of the saddle, and consequently the horse’s back, experiences different pressure challenges. In future research, it could be beneficial to combine motion analysis of the rider with a saddle pressure measuring system like the one used here to look into a link between rider position and pressure distribution. Repeating this study with live horses would enable further investigation of the effect of different patterns of pressure distribution under regions of the saddle, on the horse.
    Period2 May 2018
    Event title8th Alltech-Hartpury student conference: 2nd May 2018
    Event typeConference
    LocationGloucester, United KingdomShow on map