First case study of thermographic evaluation of a random sample of saddles in the Czech Republic

Janošíková M., Neumann C., Čítek J. (2022): First case study of thermographic evaluation of a random sample of saddles in the Czech Republic. Czech J. Anim. Sci., 67: 1–7.

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The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of correct saddle seating in the Czech Republic using a thermographic camera. Eighty-five randomly selected equestrian saddles were tested and evaluated. They were observed in 129 uses. Saddles of different manufacturers were evaluated after 25 min of training. Thermal images were taken under constant conditions from a distance of 1 m. The camera emissivity was 0.95 with a reflected temperature range of 26–37 °C. The maximum contact value of the saddle panels with the horse’s body was 81.34% of their surface area. In all cases of measurement, the saddle panels showed asymmetry of contact with a range of detected values from 0.32% to 30.46% (P < 0.001). In 20.16% of cases, the contact was measured in the spinal canal region (min. 0%, max. 67.5%). In 7.75% of cases, saddle bridge was detected. None of the saddles tested showed 100% fitting (P < 0.001). Saddles with contact in the spinal canal and a bridge at the same time were completely excluded from the evaluation. The saddle panel contact exceeding 70% of the area and a tolerance for asymmetry not exceeding 5% were regarded as suitable for use. In considering a combination of all these parameters, only nine out of 129 cases of use were fully compliant. No correlation between saddle age and occurrence of the observed defects was demonstrated. It was found that thermographic evaluation can be proposed as a tool to standardise the assessment of saddle suitability prior to its use for a specific horse.

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