Western Saddle Fit Study in Progress at New Mexico State University

The Agricultural Marketing group at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., has undertaken the first scientific saddle fit study of Western performance saddles. Using a force sensor array (FSA) pressure pad, which shows exactly how the saddle applies contact to the horse, different levels of pressure are shown in different colors and in three dimensions.

Using this latest innovation in saddle fit diagnosis, the students are examining all aspects of saddle fit, including how both movement and padding effect saddle fit. Barrel and roping saddles are the focus of the study, but the results are applicable to all types of Western saddle users.

Several hundred horse and rider combinations are being scanned and catalogued. The results will be tabulated and released sometime later this fall. This could provide new insights into horse and rider comfort and health, as well as challenge some traditional ideas on ways to improve saddle fit.

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