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Research & Development

Since 2007, Solution Saddles has carried out scientific research into the complex interaction of horse, saddle and rider in order to obtain objective evidence and therefore inform best practice in the field of saddle design, manufacture and application. The principle quantitative measurement systems that have been identified as most useful for the analysis of horse, saddle and rider interaction are:

  • Video analysis (Equine Motion Analysis System / EMAS)
  • Pressure mapping (Tekscan CONFORMat)
  • Inertial motion capture (Xsens)

Scientific studies comparing a horse’s usual saddle with a SMART™ saddle

Improved Neck Posture
Neck Posture

Biomechanical analysis of horses’ neck postures showed significant change, being carried in a longer and lower frame in the SMART™ saddle. With a high head and neck position, the stride length and extension of the back are significantly reduced; therefore the neck can be a useful measure of back activity as well as stride length.

The images compare a tense hollow outline with a more natural, engaged outline using biomechanical analysis.

Reduced Saddle Displacement
Saddle Displacement

Many of the horses studied demonstrated asymmetric pelvic movement and displaced the saddle asymmetrically but in each case, the flexible SMART™ saddle was displaced less. This asymmetric movement of the saddle created asymmetric posture in the rider.

The images show the use of EMAS video analysis to illustrate significant saddle slip to the right in the horses usual saddle with much improved vertical alignment in the SMART™ saddle.

Improved Horse, Saddle, Rider Symmetry
Rider Symmetry

The health and wellbeing of the rider, particularly the rider’s back, may be compromised by asymmetry. The SMART™ saddle synchronised better with horse and rider movement than a rigid saddle with a conventional tree thus improving the symmetry of the interaction.

Images show the use of Xsens inertial motion sensors to demonstrate the marked rider crookedness in the usual saddle compared to improved spinal alignment in the SMART™ saddle.

Reduced Peak Pressures
Peak Pressures

Pressure sensor mapping test results for SMART™ saddles provide scientific evidence that peak and average pressures are reduced by the flexible design. The SMART™ saddle demonstrates improved symmetry when compared to other makes of saddle.

Tekscan pressure mapping images show average recordings using the same scale of measurement. There is Improved peak pressures and symmetry when using the SMART™ saddle.

Improved Alignment Of Horse, Saddle & Rider

Biomechanical analysis provides accurate measurement of symmetry.

An EMAS graph representation of vertical misalignment of horse, saddle and rider over three strides. The results in the SMART™ saddle shows a significant improvement in alignment of horse, saddle and rider interaction.

SMART™ Saddle Development
Saddle Development

Solution Saddles was the first saddle company to use 3D technology to scientifically research and develop its innovative saddle designs.

3D Scanning is used to accurately analyse horse back shapes and produce symmetrical saddles.

Why Go Treeless? Illustrates key principles of saddle fit and the advantages that a fully flexible SMART saddle can offer.

Download the full article

Did you know that a healthy back will increase in size during work?

A study conducted by Dr Sue Dyson, Dr Rachael Murray and Line Greve at the Animal Health Trust, presented at the Saddle Research Trust International Conference 2014, has confirmed that horses’ back dimensions do increase with exercise, illustrating that it is not only important that a horse’s saddle fits before work, but also during work. The greatest changes in back dimension during exercise were seen in both sound horses and those ridden in a well fitting saddle, suggesting that it is a healthy back which increases in size during work.

“The back-shape ratio immediately after ridden exercise was greater compared with before work. Changes in back-shape were greater in horses working correctly versus not working correctly, and in horses with correctly-fitting versus ill-fitting saddles at each site.” Greve L, Murray R & Dyson S. Exercise-induced changes in back dimensions: the influence of saddle fit, rider-skill and work-quality. Equine Vet J (2014) 44 (1) 4-14

Before and After

A Solution Saaddles customer, was delighted after changing to a SMART™ saddle. Not only was her horse happier in his work, but the dramatic difference in his back development was obvious after only 2.5 months.

Read her story, and many more customer testimonials, here

Saddle Development

After 6 month of using the SMART™ saddle, one customer noticed a huge difference in her horse.

“He’s now completely different to look at; his back is clearly stronger, the dips behind his withers are filling in, and each time he changes shape, an Approved Advisor has been available to assist us if needed.”

Read More Here

Veterinary Use

Saddle DevelopmentIn the clinical evaluation of back-related problems, SMART™ saddles are useful as a diagnostic tool and can be usefully employed to eliminate the saddle as a possible source of pain. Dr. Sue Dyson, a world leading specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of lameness in the horse, now regularly uses the SMART™ saddle in assessing horses with back pain and recommends its therapeutic use to clients.

“It has been my experience that some horses with back pain benefit tremendously by the use of the SMART™ Saddle.”
- Dr Sue Dyson, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, FRCVS,
Head of Clinical Orthopaedic Studies at The Animal Health Trust

Saddle Development

Solution Saddles collaborates with Saddle Research Trust Research Associates in utilising new technology to scientifically develop innovations in saddle performance.

Solution Saddles is a Supporter of the Saddle Research Trust, a charitable organisation that has been established to scientifically and objectively lead and support research into the influence of saddles on the welfare, performance and safety of horses and riders. For more information on the SRT visit or email

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