• horse;
  • saddle sore;
  • saddle pressure measurement;
  • dry spots


Reasons for performing the study: Similar to human decubitus ulcers, local high pressure points from ill-fitting saddles induce perfusion disturbances of different degrees resulting in tissue hypoxia and alteration in sweat production.

Objective: To relate the different clinical manifestations of saddle sores to the magnitude of saddle pressures at the location of the withers.

Methods: Sixteen horses with dry spots after exercise (Group A) and 7 cases presented with acute clinical signs of saddle pressure in the withers area (Group B) were compared with a control group of 16 sound horses with well fitting saddles (Group C). All horses underwent a saddle pressure measurement at walk, trot and canter. Mean and maximal pressures in the area of interest were compared between groups within each gait.

Results: Mean pressures differed significantly between groups in all 3 gaits. Maximal pressure differed between groups at trot; at walk and canter, however, the only significant difference was between Group C and Groups A and B, respectively, (P>0.05). Mean and maximal pressures at walk in Group A were 15.3 and 30.6 kPa, in Group B 24.0 and 38.9 kPa and in Group C 7.8 and 13.4 kPa, respectively; at trot in Group A 18.1 and 43.4 kPa, in Group B 29.7 and 53.3 kPa and in Group C 9.8 and 21.0 kPa, respectively; and at canter in Group A 21.4 and 48.9 kPa, in Group B 28.6 and 56.0 kPa and in Group C 10.9 and 24.7 kPa, respectively.

Conclusion: The study shows that there is a distinguishable difference between the 3 groups regarding the mean pressure value, in all gaits.