Pressure Mat Technology for Saddle Fit and Horse Training

While researchers have used pressure mats for years to visualize the kinds of pressures occurring between a horse’s back and a rider’s seat, the technology is now more accessible.

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Pressure Mat Technology for Saddle Fit and Horse Training
Pressure mat technology is becoming more affordable and might be useful in saddle fitting and for horse training. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Anna Byström

Saddle pressure mats used to be one of the great tools reserved for equitation scientists. But today, as technology becomes more affordable, they’ve become accessible to saddle fitters, trainers, and riders. And the many possibilities of what we can do with them are, according to one researcher, “fascinating.”

“As a rider myself, seeing the images made from these pressure mats really led me to understand what I feel when I’m riding and focus more on the horse’s movements,” said Anna Byström, PhD, an equine biomechanics researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Uppsala.

Although pressure mats have been used for more than a decade to help scientists visualize the kinds of pressures occurring between a horse’s back and a rider’s seat, they have far broader uses in the riding world, said Byström. She gave a one-hour presentation on saddle pressure pad technology and use during the Centaur Biomechanics Virtual Equine Sports Science Summit held Oct. 3

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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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