Simultaneous Pliance pressure mapping and Centaur Biomechanics gait analysis allows us to measure exactly how much better the horse goes when pressure is reduced. This was the technology used to develop the Fairfax Performance girth back in 2010.
Based on the knowledge gained from the work with the girth we have gone on to look at the de-restriction of the shoulder girdle muscles further up under the saddle and have recently launched the Performance Panel.
Trials with 18 international showjumping horses showed a significant improvement in every horse in the following areas:
- Reduced under saddle pressure
- Increased contact area
- Shoulder flexion over the fence
- Knee flexion over the fence
Below we have looked at the results in detail for one horse, to help demonstrate the improvement trend we have recorded.
These two photos are of the same moment in the jump. The one on the left is using the horse’s original saddle and girth and the photo on the right is using the Fairfax Jump with the Performance Panel and the Performance Girth. You can easily see how much neater the horse is in front – we have recorded a minimum of 5cm more clearance over the fence on all the jumping trials we have conducted. The Performance panel allows the horse to use his shoulder more and flex his knees more. Notice also the position of his head and neck – the horse isn’t having to put as much effort into clearing the fence so his head and neck are not stretched as low.
This shows the averaged maximum pressure for the horse's old saddle compared to the Fairfax Jump with the Performance panel. In this orientation we are looking down onto the horse’s back with the top of the image corresponding to the front edge of the saddle. These pressure readings cover the whole jumping effort over a 1.40m upright. The pressures associated with landing over 1.40m are always high, but we are interested in reducing these as much as possible and increasing the contact area. Notice how the saddle on the left has a lack of panel contact and the pressure zone is focused on the front third of the saddle. The Fairfax Jump shows a far better pressure distribution and a greatly increased contact area.
Here you can see another view of the same average maximum pressure readings for the two saddles. It is important to note that neither saddle reached 37.0 psi, this is just the automatic scale assigned to the view by the programme. When you compare the two readings, you can see the channel on the saddle on the left is very narrow and restrictive compared to the obvious clear channel down the centre of the Fairfax Jump saddle.
This graph shows the peak under saddle pressures recorded for the horse's usual saddle (on the left) compared to the Fairfax Jump saddle with the Performance Panel (on the right). The first column on the left of each graph shows the reading under the whole saddle and this was reduced from 28.28psi down to 17.55psi. The other four coloumns show the pressure distribution across four sections of the mat. You can see how much more even the pressure is distributed across the front area of the mat under the Fairfax Jump saddle.
Here you can see a comparison between the maximum force recorded under Peter’s own saddle on the left and the Fairfax Jump saddle with the performance panel on the right. The total force was reduced by a massive 471.2 lbf! The other four columns demonstrate how the force was distributed more evenly through the Fairfax Jump saddle.
These graphs show a comparison in the contact area under the horse's old saddle on the left and the Fairfax Jump saddle on the right. The total contact area is considerably bigger under the Fairfax Jump saddle – 43.59in2 larger. The four columns to the right show the contact area under the four areas of the saddle and you can see the readings are more equal under the Fairfax Jump saddle, which indicates the contact area between the panel of the saddle and the horse’s back is more consistent as well as larger.
The photographs here were taken with a high speed camera capturing at 300 frames per second (25 times faster than the human eye). The shot on the left shows how we measured the angle of knee flexion over the fence and the shot on the right shows how we measured the shoulder flexion. With the Fairfax Jump Saddle we were focusing on freeing the shoulder girdle muscles on take off and measuring how much more the horse was then able to flex his shoulder and knee over the fence.
Here we can see a comparison between the gait analysis readings for the shoulder flexion of three international horses. A smaller angle indicates an improvement in flexion. The grey bars are for the horse's own saddle and the green are for the Fairfax Jump. You can see we recorded an improvement in flexion in every horse on both the left and the right side, except horse 3 who had quite asymmetric readings. We didn’t get an increase on horse 3’s left side, but we saw a great improvement in symmetry which is important in helping the horse to reduce uneven loading of the limbs and to maintain soundness.
These two graphs show the knee flexion recorded for the same three horses. Again a smaller angle indicates an improvement in flexion. The grey bars are the readings with the horse's old saddle and the green are with the Fairfax Jump saddle. All three horses increased their knee flexion when using the Fairfax Jump saddle with Performance Panel.