UK Saddle Survey: Part 1 - Saddle Use & Preferences in Horses and Riders

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Abstract

Saddles are almost certainly one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment and are used by the majority of riders in many equestrian disciplines. Despite a large number of studies relating to saddle fit and function, there appear to be no published data describing the basic demographics of saddle use, rider preferences or discipline differences. This study was designed as an online survey consisting of 20 closed questions and 4 open free text questions split into three sections: 1) participant demographics; 2) saddle use; 3) impact of saddle use on the horse and rider. The survey was live for 20 days and 65% of the responses were obtained within the first 8 days. A total of 4527 horse owners/keepers undertook the survey with 3624 complete responses (80.1% completion rate). The majority of respondents were female (98.1 %, n = 3555). The four most popular disciplines respondents participated in were pleasure riding/hacking (82.6 %, n = 2994), dressage (71.6 %, n = 2595), show jumping (48.2 %, n = 1747) and eventing (33.3 %, n = 1205). Most horse owners and keepers engaged in non-competitive or local / unaffiliated level competition (59.0 %, n=2136). The majority of respondents (59.2%, n = 2145) did not use saddles on more than one horse. When selecting a saddle, respondents valued comfort for the horse as essential (92.6%, n = 4073), followed by injury prevention (essential; 66.5%, n = 2838) and then performance related attributes (essential; 56.9%, n = 2459). When selecting a saddle to buy, durability was the most important feature for respondents (92.5%), who also rated weight, price, and leather (63.0, 66.5, 67.7%, respectively) as key attributes they would require.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2024

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