30 minute taster clip here: https://youtu.be/XABlQViweog This very special session was an exceptionally deep dive with frank discussion on the topic of how to evaluate the equine back using imaging technology and what it can and cannot offer to the saddle design, construction and fitting industry. Our 3 distinguished presenters from the fields of saddle design and construction research gave 2 presentations each on this particularly challenging and often controversial theme.
Dr David Marlin opened with a variety of research projects on the very best of what we have available to us in terms of imaging and scanning. Jochen Schleese continued with the concept that the measuring process is easy but interpreting and applying the findings is much more complex. Bradley Whale approached the topic from a different angle whereby finding mathematical solutions to defining the available area on the horse’s back for saddle fitting was in his view the most reliable method. He continued with results of a pilot study that he had carried out which showed that differences in surface angle of only one degree can substantially alter the back morphology by as much as 3cm width at the withers.
For the second phase, Dr David Marlin showed an impressive dynamic imaging technique which could track muscle movement and, in turn, strain regions which impact on saddle design and fitting. Jochen followed this with how horse’s can be helped when a knowledge of the horse’s dynamic anatomy is applied to saddle fitting and why, if the saddle does not fit the rider, it cannot fit the horse. Bradley Whale then presented the psychological aspects of how we either accept or reject facts, together with rider expectation and perceived skill level versus actual skill level and how their saddle might perform, impacting on the role of the fitter.
These intriguing presentations were interspersed with many pertinent and often candid discussions about the challenges faced by the saddlery industry.