Horse Saddle Fitter Research

UK research determined saddle fitters generally could identify the T18 vertebrae in the horse's back in the process of proper saddle fitting.
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English saddle on fence Paint horse background

Proper saddle fit is important for horse health and comfort.

Recent research published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science looked at whether a select group of saddle fitters in the UK could reliably identify the 18th thoracic vertebra (T18). Guidelines for English saddle fit has recommended that the saddle tree not extend beyond T18.

The study was conducted to assess the reliability of saddle fitters (SFs) to identify the T18 spinous process (SP) and thus ensure English saddles were not too large for the horse or place inappropriately.

Highlights of the Research

  • Agreement between saddle fitters on appropriate saddle length is thought to be poor
  • Reliability of saddle fitters to locate T18 was assessed
  • Saddle fitters could locate T18 to within one spinous process in most horses
  • Inter-rater reliability among saddle fitters using the same technique was good
  • Research is needed to understand the implications of loading beyond T18
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