Science & Equine

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Written by Sophie Delemarre
Posted in Saddlery

Image by: Verhoeven Ruitersport

The influence of saddle type upon lower back pain

In equestrian sports you see many accidents, which are often serious. Most of the injuries come from a fall, but when you talk to people in health care who work with equestrians you will find out that overuse injuries often occur. However, this is rarely reported in databases because most of this data is collected in the ER. What also doesn't help that equestrians often indicate that these injuries are part of the sport.

Almost half of the riders indicated that they were having or had low back pain in the last 12 months. The incidence of lower back pain was the highest in the group using a classical saddle. No ideal stirrup length emerged from the study.

What kind of saddle do you use? And have you ever noticed the difference between saddles?

Expert opinion by Sophie Delemarre

The approach of this research is very practical. It's a study that looked at different saddles and the incidence of low back pain. However, I think that the subdivision in types of saddles should have been more extensive. In my opinion a jumping saddle and a dressage saddle are not comparable.
It is also weird that there were far more low back complaints in the group that spent more than 15 years on 'classic' saddles compared to the rest of the equestrians. Is this a coincidence? Or do you get more low back complaints after 15 years of riding a 'classic' saddle?
This research is from 1996, and as far as I have been able to find, there has never really been an objective investigation that is comparable to this one.

When in doubt? Ask a saddler for help!

> From: Quinn et al., Br J Sport Med 30 (1996) 140-144. All rights reserved to Brittisch journal of sport medicine. Click here for the online summary.

Image by: Verhoeven Ruitersport