How the Rising Trot Impacts the Horse’s Back

Changes in force distribution, combined with saddle fit, have a big impact on equine back health, for better or worse.

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How the Rising Trot Impacts the Horse
The researchers hope to help equestrians polish skills on a simulator to ensure good equine welfare once riders mount a horse. | Photo: Ludovic Péron/Wikimedia Commons

How do you ride your trot? A rising trot has many purposes, including aesthetics and our own comfort at this bumpy gait. But none is more important than the protective effects a well-done rising trot can have on your horse’s biomechanical health. French biomechanics researchers have learned that force distribution changes dramatically when we sit and stand with the rhythm of the stride. Combined with proper saddle fit and structure, that can make a big difference in equine back health—for better, or for worse.

“The pressure exerted on the horse’s back is more localized over the front part of the saddle, the withers area, when the rider is in standing phase,” said Henry Chateau, DVM, PhD, of the National Veterinary School of Maisons Alfort Equine Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Pathology department, and the INRA, the French national agricultural research institution.

“That sounds like bad pressure on the withers—but that’s where a good saddle comes in,” he said. “The role of the tree (and the pommel) is to distribute that pressure laterally

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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