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Equine performance and equitation science: Clinical issues

By Sue Dyson

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The quality of equine performance can be influenced by pain, whether or not that results in overt lameness. Recognition of low-grade lameness is challenging, but with careful observation there are many clues which veterinarians, riders and trainers should recognise. Riders and trainers are frequently unable or unwilling to recognise lameness or other behavioural changes that are a manifestation of pain. Work discipline, body size and conformation may be risk factors for lameness. Work surfaces may also have a role. There is an integral relationship between limb and thoracolumbosacral function. There is also an interaction between the rider and thoracolumbosacral function and health. The saddle is an interface between the rider and the horse and saddle-fit for both horse and rider is crucial for optimal thoracolumbar health and function. The tendency of a saddle to persistently slip to one side is most commonly secondary to hind limb lameness. The rider communicates with the horse via the reins and the bit. The design of the bit, its position and size influence oral comfort. Training aids such as draw reins or a Pessoa Training Aid, appropriately used may improve hind limb propulsion. However, there are still wide gaps in our knowledge about strategies to minimise the risks of injuries to the ridden horse, and a need for further research making use of technological advances in the fields of equine biomechanics with the results applied in equitation science.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 190
Pages 5-17
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Conformation
  2. Equitation science
  3. Feet
  4. Lameness
  5. saddles
  6. spine