Experiences of Interdisciplinary Working from the Perspective of the Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitters

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Horse owners seek the advice and support of a number of equestrian professionals in carrying out their duty of care for their animal. In some instances, these professionals form a multi-disciplinary team (MDT). The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of the Society of Master Saddlers’ qualified saddle fitters (SMSQSFs) working with other professionals and to understand the nature of inter-disciplinary working from an SMSQSF perspective. Semi-structured, one-to-one online interviews with fourteen SMSQSFs were completed. Areas explored included the nature of the participant’s client base; the frequency and nature of their interactions with other professionals; their perceptions of horse owner expectations of an MDT approach; and any benefits, challenges, and barriers to an MDT approach within an equestrian setting. Interviews were video and audio recorded (MS Teams), transcribed verbatim (Otter ai), and imported into qualitative data analysis software (NVivo, version 12). Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Six themes were identified: (1) effective communication; (2) multidisciplinary expectations; (3) horse welfare; (4) professionalism; (5) relationships; (6) working together. Communication was recognised as a crucial component of an effective MDT. Most participants valued and desired an MDT approach. They felt they had a key role to play within the equestrian MDT, not only in the prevention of deterioration in horse welfare but also in improving the functionality and performance of the horse–rider partnership. Effective MDT working was also seen as having benefits to SMSQSFs and other professional stakeholders alike, although time and financial constraints were identified as barriers to MTD working. The role of the horse owner within the MDT was unclear and potentially complex, and this and other factors such as the professional identity of the SMSQSF, personal relationships, and input from others outside of the MDT team were identified as challenges to effective MDT working. This present study found that SMSQSFs experience similar benefits and challenges to an MDT approach as seen in human healthcare settings. The role of the horse owner, communication, and professional recognition are indicated as pivotal to MDT effectiveness in achieving optimal saddle fit.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2024


  • equestrian
  • fitter
  • horse
  • multi-disciplinary
  • professional
  • saddle


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