Centaur of Biomechanics short course
"Improving Welfare, soundness and performance."
Georgia was fortunate enough to get on an Equine Biomechanics and saddle fitting course in early June 2018, run and taught by the incredible Russell Guire and Mark Fisher. This course was designed for anyone with a keen interest in the welfare of the horse, whether it be from a professional point of view, as Georgia was, or as a horse owner simply seeking more knowledge. The course covered aspects in gait analysis, the efficiency of the gait, the reasons behind poor performance; as it could be tack related, general pain, behaviour or training issues. In the 2-day course we were also lucky to watch and use some of the equipment designed to measure such patterns, and see the paucity of evidence taken in different trials and what impact this has on the horse, and the horse owner.
There are many factors that have to be considered when evaluating the horses gaits; the surface that you are watching them (horse) move on is a significant factor, along with handler aids; is the walk or trot being forced? The weather, the length of space allocated to the assessment, the shoes, the boots worn, are all factors that need to be taken in to consideration.
Some background knowledge taken from the course...
Diagonal pairs; common practice in walk and trot ups is looking for the diagonal pair of legs and if they move correctly, producing similar footfall patterns and beats. Taking the above factors in to consideration, horses have a disassociation between each pair, and that loading limbs between hind and fore differ. The percentage of front limb load is 58%, and hind limb load is 42%. This suggests that if the horse were to roll back to front in diagonal pairs this would consume the least amount of energy but would load the hocks dramatically. This is something Georgia, as a bodyworker, examines in the assessments.
The importance of knowing what the horse you're treating does is very important. A good example is in show jumping. Jumping a 1.60M fence and landing exerts 3x the horses bodyweight vertically down one leg, thus resulting in hyper extension. Knowing this type of information gives the professional therapist the relevant start into problem diagnosis; could it be hock issues, or suspensory ligaments?
Over the 2 day weekend course, the saddle fitting element was very in-depth and informative, covering aspects of tree types, flocking, and certain focal points (stirrup bars, rails etc). There was also teaching of different guidelines of the gullet system, the way saddles are made, girth issues and how to avoid/ improve them, welfare issues, quality, symmetry, adaptability, adjustability, prices, and weight restriction and performance (this playing the biggest topic). As an equine professional, Georgia is constantly trying to improve the performance and movement of the horse. This CPD course and the topics discussed are based around the idea that the horse might not be feeling their usual optimum self, giving a plausible reason as to why we get tack checked at regular intervals. Also on the course, Georgia covered a small area into bridle fitting and why this is just as important as the saddle. There are so many pressure points around the horses face, for example the TMJ joint, ears, nasal bone ridges and atlas. Having ill fitting bridles could lead to uneven pressure and lasting damage.
Georgia learnt a lot more than what's written above. If you want to find out more or have any questions she is more than willing to help. If you would like Georgia to take a look at your saddle or bridle in your booked session, she is more than happy to do so.
(Please note that Georgia completing this course doesn't make her a qualified saddle fitter, but allows her to make suitable points to benefit the horse, whether it be assessing the saddle issues, or how it sits and so on).