I have just returned from the 7th Annual Horses Inside Out conference on the topic of “The Back and Beyond” at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. This insightful conference is brought together by the anatomy and biomechanics author, artist and lecturer Gillian Higgins.
The horses ‘back’ and the structure thereof is such a complex interlinking system it was fascinating to learn so much more from other professionals and combine this knowledge with saddle fitting.
The speakers included:
Dr Sue Dyson is a world-renowned expert in equine orthopaedics, with a particular interest in lameness and poor performance in sports horses. Highly skilled in the diagnosis of subtle and complex lameness, Sue is also an expert in diagnostic imaging, radiography, ultrasonography, scintigraphy and magnetic resonance imaging. Dr Dyson is currently researching the association between hind limb lameness and saddle slip. It was very reassuring listening to her trials and findings which were fabulously exampled and seeing what we saddle fitters are faced with on a daily basis. The key message was that the majority of saddle slip problems are hind limb lameness related, followed by rider asymmetry as opposed to poor saddle fit. Also findings showed the lighter the rider the more prevalent the slip.
Dr Theresia Licka is a Professor of Orthopaedics in Vienna. Her principal research interests involve movement analysis in horses. Her research was very interesting but in especially the work analysing the pressures exerted from under the saddle and the sandwich effect, as generally we only usually think of the downward pressures. I was particularly interested in her confirming that excess heat under the saddle can cause tissue damage, which is what we have always seen and proven in practice when saddle fitting. All the more reason for wool flocked panels, maybe even serge panels and only natural fibre pads!
Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer is principal trainer to his daughter, successful Olympic Dressage rider Laura Bechtolsheimer. He has also supported and trained many other top dressage riders including Carl Hester. Dr Bechtolsheimer has competed at top level eventing and dressage representing the UK at the European Championships in 1995. His philosophy is to to ride in a way that is good for the horse physically and fair to him mentally. Harmony is the goal and this was shown in his ‘5 Pillars of Strength’ strategy. Personally, I was pleased to listen to his belief which I strongly share of a varied exercise programme for all horses including dressage horses, of road work, hacking, gallops, jumping as well as arena work for the horses well being both physically and mentally.
Other speakers included Louise Broom – chartered physiotherapist, Dr Andrew Hemmings – Equine Neuroanatomist, Dr Richard Hepburn is a vet and specialist in internal medicine at the BW Equine Vet Hospital Group. This was all topped off in the wonderful historic surroundings of the University halls with a very entertaining after dinner speech from Haydn Price, consultant farrier to the BEF. Some very home truths about the joys of being a husband/father/groom out and about at events – always look at a riders facial expression before commenting on their performance!
There were many saddle fitters from around the world at the conference, I was joined by both Heleen Klumper and Martine Leifstingh from The Netherlands. The event was a fabulous opportunity to speak with other equine professionals from all spheres and continue to develop the ongoing knowledge of saddle fitting.
If you wish to view more of Gillian’s work visit www.horsesinsideout.com or view a great video on this link http://youtu.be/2Bpv_26nqA0
– Nikki Newcombe