The Saddle Research Trust (SRT) has launched a new referral scheme to help British riders tackle saddle-related problems. The new scheme, which will be highlighted at the Saddle Research Trust International Conference, to be held in Cambridge, England, this November, gives riders access to the expertise and advice of a veterinary authority at a manageable cost.

Riders often relate saddle-fitting problems and equine back pain to loss of performance. However, recent studies showed that horses with saddle slip syndrome were more than 50 times likely to be lame or have gait abnormalities, that 46% of horses were lame or had gait abnormalities, and that 43% of saddles were ill-fitting. However, lameness can often be difficult to recognize which can lead to potential welfare problems for the horse and can have implications for the rider as well. A further study has identified a clear link between ill-fitting saddles and back pain in the rider.

“The Saddle Research Trust receives around two requests every week for advice on saddle-related issues,” said SRT founder Anne Bondi. “Many horse owners report that they feel trapped in a seemingly unending cycle of veterinary/musculoskeletal/saddle fit assessments without ever determining the underlying cause of the problem. The lack of a definitive diagnosis can be expensive but most importantly has the potential to result in a permanently damaged horse.”

The new referral scheme, which is exclusive to SRT members and friends, aims to help owners resolve their saddle-related problems. Pot