Academic Scholarship

A review of pressure measurement on the contract between the horse and the rider.

Pferdeheilkunde (in English and German) [Horse Medicine], 28(5), 583-593, September 2012

Photo Needed Lee Cabell, Ed.D.
Department of Interprofessional Health Sciences and Health Administration
Miroslav Janura, Zdenek Svoboda, Tereza Dvorakova, Eva Haltmayer, Eva Janurova


The use of systems for pressure measurement between the rider’s body and the back of the horse is a relatively new procedure. The size and transfer of the load inside the horse-pad-saddle -rider system can be assessed in various ways. This paper provides a review of literature published from 1994 to 2010 that discusses using pressure mapping systems for measuring the contact load between the horse and its rider. Literature was obtained using common scientific databases such as Web of Science, SCOPUS and PubMed entering the key words: “horse”, “pressure”, and “back ”. The first published studies aimed to verify sensor parameters and to minimize animal- and operator-induced errors. In order to obtain valid and reliable data, it is important to perform pressure measurements under highly standardized conditions. Moreover using properly established guidelines for calibrating and placing sensors is crucial for receiving valid data. Subsequent studies focused on the influence of various types of saddles, pads, blankets and adjustments of saddle fit on the loading of the horse’s back. Results of these studies showed that using pressure mapping systems provide a useful evaluation of the load applied to the area of contact between the horse and rider. A properly fitted saddle with a pad can serve as a shock absorber. Literature findings suggest that improving the fit of a saddle by using a saddle pad needs to be individually adapted for each horse and rider. Considering the current status of literature on the use of pressure mapping systems in horseback riding future research should concentrate on using data obtained by biomechanical modelling of contact surfaces, including their interactions; on determining a “normal pattern” of pressure distribution on the equine back; and on finding a way to include individual parameters of the horse and its rider into the overall assessment.


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