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New insights on rider weight and horse welfare
Researchers say the most likely reasons for the findings are rider weight as a proportion of horse weight, or rider position in the saddle or on the horse’s back.
Horses can suffer transient lameness if rider weight is too high 

A new study suggests that horses can experience temporary lameness and show signs indicating musculoskeletal pain when there is a high rider:horse bodyweight ratio.

The pilot study, published in the journal Equine Veterinary Education, explored the potential impact of rider weight on horse health and welfare.

Whilst it is widely recognised that inappropriate rider weight has welfare implications, there is a lack of reliable scientific evidence on which to base guidelines.

Six non-lame horses in regular work were ridden by four riders classified as ‘light’, ‘moderate’, ‘heavy’ and ‘very heavy’. A standardised, 30-minute ‘dressage test’ was undertaken by each horse-rider combination and abandoned if researchers observed lameness or behavioural markers of pain.

None of the tests were completed by the heavy or very heavy riders and one out of 12 tests involving medium riders was abandoned. Researchers say the most likely reasons for this are rider weight as a proportion of horse weight, or rider position in the saddle or on the horse’s back.

All horses trotted sound after the test was abandoned and completed the study, moving well when ridden.

Lead author Dr Sue Dyson, head of clinical orthopaedics at the Animal Health Trust, said: “The results indicate that every rider and especially heavier riders should ride a horse or pony of appropriate size and fitness for the rider’s weight, with a saddle that is correctly fitted for both horse and rider.”

Funding has been confirmed for the next phase of research, which will explore whether the horse’s fitness, adaptation to carry heavier weights or more ideal saddle fit, could increase the weight individual horses can carry.

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Do you know a practice wellbeing star?

News Story 1
 Has someone in your practice team gone above and beyond to make your workplace a positive one during the coronavirus pandemic? Then why not nominate them for a 2020 Practice Wellbeing Star!

The joint RCVS Mind Matters Initiative/SPVS Practice Wellbeing Star nominations recognise individuals who have held up morale during a time when practices are facing unprecedented staffing and financial issues.

Nominees receive a certificate in recognition of their colleagues' appreciation of their achievements and will be entered into the prize draw for a pair of tickets to attend the joint SPVS and Veterinary Management Group Congress in January 2021.

 

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News Shorts
WellVet reopens ticket sales to online conference platform

Following the success of its online conference, the organisers behind WellVet Weekend have re-opened ticket sales to allow new delegates to access session recordings and its online networking platform.

The day-long conference saw more than 360 veterinary professionals mix activity sessions with personal development CPD, all hosted within a virtual conference platform. Now, with more than 500 minutes of CPD available, the resource is being re-opened to allow full access to the session recordings until May 2021.

Sessions are aimed at providing delegates with a range of proactive wellbeing tools to explore to find ways of improving their mental and physical health. Tickets are limited in number and on sale at wellvet.co.uk until 30th August 2020.