Why Overlook the Most Important Connector between you and your Horse?

In every sport, equipment is designed to heighten athlete performance. Biomechanics plays a crucial role in the design process. We see it in the seats of bicycles, rowing boats, and even Formula One racing cars. But as equestrians, there's one crucial element we seem to be overlooking. The seat of our saddle.

As lovers of dressage, we know that a majority of our schooling time is spent in the saddle. So why don't we pay more attention to the seat - the most important piece of equipment that connects us with our horses? What if the seat of our saddle holds the key to unlocking higher performance levels in our horses?

Welcome to Albion's Horse Saddle Revolution

British-based saddle manufacturer, Albion, has been wrestling with these questions. In their quest for answers, they have undertaken their most epic research and development project to date. Their findings on the impact of saddle-seat design on a horse's movement are pretty groundbreaking. Tests show that when the rider is in the correct seat for their pelvic motion, there's a significant improvement in the horse’s movement.

“The seat is the most fundamental part of the saddle. We found the seat that best suits the rider’s style of riding is quickly recognisable through the rider’s position. When in the correct seat, the rider is less reliant on the blocks, as more movement is absorbed through the pelvis, enabling the rider to move in time with the horse,” elaborates Cath Gordon, Albion’s managing director.

A Matter of Saddle vs. Pelvic Synchrony

How did Albion come to these findings? They undertook clinical trials at Hartpury College. A variety of riders, with differing skill levels, were analyzed. The initial stage involved mapping and monitoring the riders’ biomechanics as they went through various motions like walking, squatting and jumping.

But the real test was when the riders were asked to test a range of saddles in walk, trot and canter, while their range of movement continued to be monitored. This is where the magic was revealed – the correct seat gives the rider a greater pelvic range.

86% Improvement in Horse and Rider Synchronization

For those of you who love to chew over statistics - the numbers are mind-blowing. When the rider was in the correct seat, there was an 86% improvement in the synchronisation of motion between the horse and rider. If the rider’s pelvis is restricted in its range, it can inhibit the horse’s natural movement. It can also compromise the rider's balance leading to instability in the legs, or overcompensation with movement in the upper body.

Tested on amateur riders, the results were immediately evident. As for more advanced professional riders, the feel between the horse and rider was profoundly magnified. That said, when the horse and rider’s timings were in sync, the horse was able to work through correctly (without the riders' motion blocking it) and be in perfect harmony with the rider.

Albion's New Unity Horse Saddle Series

Inspired by these findings, Albion created the Unity Series. Their new saddle designs are developed to enhance the rider's pelvic motion leading to better unity between horse and rider. The Unity Series offers rider seats in two profiles (X seat and Y seat) and also includes precision-fitting TB and WB trees.

The Unity series exudes an elegant, sleek modern look where accuracy takes the spotlight. Top-notch full-grain lux leather and patent detailing come as standard. The beautiful stitching detail underlines high-quality craftsmanship evident in all Albion saddles.

Make Precision Your Priority in Dressage Performance

When less than 1% can make the difference between first place and 10th in dressage, doesn't it make sense to address the fit of your saddle-seat as precisely as possible?

Test ride the Unity saddles to find the perfect seat here.

For further information about Albion's research or their Unity series, visit their website.

Article Source: Horse & Hound, March 2024