A change in your horse’s performance or behaviour may be a reflection of underlying musculoskeletal pain. A common cause of this is back pain, which may be primary, or secondary to associated lameness.


Whilst there are many causes of back pain in horses, in ridden horses it can often be attributed to saddles with poor design or fit both impeding the horse’s movement or the rider’s balance. With the saddle’s impact on performance, it’s surprising that the design and function has been little researched – which is where The Saddle Research Trust (SRT) steps in! Founded in 2009, the SRT is a charitable organisation, which has been established to scientifically and objectively lead and support research into the influence of saddles on the performance and welfare of horses and their riders. Through a variety of education programmes designed to raise awareness and distribute knowledge globally, the trust aims to provide support and advice both to horse owners and industry professionals.


Saddle Research Trust


Research areas that the SRT has been involved with recently include;

  • Welfare, performance and safety issues of saddles
  • Back problems and associated behavioural issues.
  • Causes of saddle-related poor performance and wastage in sports horses.
  • Safety aspects of saddle design.
  • Saddle fitting in relation to weight fluctuation & obesity
  • Effects of saddle design on rider performance and health
  • Saddle design for disabled riders.



3rd International Conference

The 2nd SRT International Conference, held on 29th November 2014 at Anglia Ruskin University, was declared a resounding success. Presenting to a full house of around 400 delegates from varied quarters of the equestrian industry, leading veterinary and scientific experts examined, discussed and debated the latest research on saddle-related equine welfare and performance issues. Presenters, delegates and the conference sponsors World Horse Welfare, the British Equestrian Federation, Amerigo Saddles, Albion, and Horse & Hound, commended the event as “excellent” and “a highly important step in the sharing of knowledge and expertise for the good of the horse”. The conference saw leading vets, saddlers and equine therapists joining professional riders and trainers as well as leisure owners and riders to hear international experts share their vast experience and debate their cutting edge research.


After the success of their 2nd International Conference, the SRT is currently organising its 3rd International Conference on Horse, Rider, Saddlery: Welfare and Performance. It’s all set to be a fantastic event with key partners Wow Saddles and World Horse Welfare already on board as Title Sponsors and Albion Saddlemakers sponsoring the Research Workshop. Here’s what the two Title Sponsors had to say about the conference;



"At Wow Saddles, our aim has always been to optimise the comfort and performance of the ridden horse, based on applying the results of extensive research and development using state of the art technology to the design of every aspect of the saddle and its fit. This goal is so consistent with the aims of the Saddle Research Trust that we are delighted to have teamed up this year with the SRT to sponsor their 2018 conference." Maggie White, Wow Saddles.



"The right interaction between horse, rider and saddlery is pivotal for horse welfare as well as performance. World Horse Welfare is delighted to support this conference which should help advance everyone's understanding of how to get the most out of all three of these key elements of riding"
Tony Tyler, World Horse Welfare


The conference will be held at Nottingham University's DeVere Centre on Saturday 8th December 2018 and will provide an opportunity to;

  • Find out the very latest in horse, saddle and rider interaction
  • Learn how new scientific research can promote equine welfare and performance
  • Debate the issues important to you
  • Hear the latest research from world-renowned leading experts in their fields – confirmed presenters include Professor Hilary Clayton, Dr Sue Dyson (Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Animal Health Trust), Dr Anne Bondi (SRT Director and BHSI), Professor Pat Harris (Director of Science for SPILLERS) as well as GB Olympian, Richard Davison with his personal review of current research.


You can buy tickets and find out more information about the conference at www.saddleresearchtrust.com.



The conference will offer a unique opportunity to explore the application of science to horses, saddles and riders to help improve the health and welfare of both horses and humans.  Whether you are a researcher, saddler, vet, therapist, trainer, rider or horse owner it will certainly be an interesting and insightful event to attend.