The back pressure caused by a training roller during lunging
Ground schooling (especially lunging) is routinely performed in the rehabilitation and training of horses. With the elimination of the weight of the saddle/ rider, it is thought to be a safe training method. However, this study questioned if the training roller, often used when ground schooling to attach training tools, influences the back more beneficially than a saddle/ rider's weight.
To measure the pressures underneath the roller, ten non-lame horses were lunged on a sixteen-metre circle wearing a training roller on top of a high withered dressage square and wool pad. A pressure mat was positioned over the spinous processes of thoracic vertebrae ten to fifteen. Data were collected in both trot and canter on the left and right reins, with and without a Pessoa training aid. For the pelvic range of motion, horses were instrumented with inertial motion sensors. The differences in pressure and pelvic range of motion with/without Pessoa training aid were analysed.
No significant differences were found in pelvic range of motion, indicating that the use of a Pessoa doesn't influence the pelvic movements significantly in trot and canter when lunging. The back pressure was consistently higher with the Pessoa training aid compared to when the horses were lunged without Pessoa aid. Remarkably, the results showed pressures similar to those reported in sitting trot and higher than those reported for pressures stimulating back discomfort, even without the Pessoa aid.
Expert opinion by Isabeau Deckers
Horse owners, veterinarians, therapists and instructors should be aware of the effect that a training roller can have on back pressures, especially in horses undergoing rehabilitation of back problems. Attempts to alleviate pressures should be made with either a pad creating clearance of the vertebrae or by placing a roller over the top of a correctly fitted saddle.
> From: Mackechnie-Guire et al., J Equine Vet Sci 67 (2018) 112-117. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd.. Click here for the online summary.