What is equine ergonomics?
Equine ergonomics is the applied science of equipment design, to maximise performance by reducing horse and rider fatigue and discomfort. It is the study of the relationship between horses and the environment in which they work, and the application of physiological, psychological and engineering knowledge to the problems involved.
Ever since the invention of the stirrup around 302AD horse riders (ourselves included) have been preoccupied with fit. Trying to make the frame of the saddle tree fit the horse. The problem has been that the horse’s back moves. It moves at walk, trot and canter. It moves when the horse raises and lowers its head. It moves a great deal when riding a circle, or doing lateral movements. How on earth are we supposed to fit a static saddle to the horse's dynamic back?
When it comes to saddles, it’s not just about fit. It’s about function.
Links to information on equine ergonomics and equipment design:
- Saddle pressure patterns of three different training saddles (normal tree, flexible tree, treeless) in Thoroughbred racehorses at trot and gallop (Latif et. al., 2010)
- Force and pressure distribution beneath a conventional dressage saddle and a treeless dressage saddle with panels (Greve & Dyson, 2012)
- Equine ergonomics - a new era? (Van Weeren, 2010)