I will preface this post, by saying that I try to keep my job at Ecogold and this blog, as separate as I possibly can. No one likes infomercial content shoved down their throats – including myself – so I’m really, really careful about that.
At first, I wasn’t going to write this post, but it sounds silly that this gets coverage in other equestrian media but not in the one that Ecogold supports the most – they help pay the HJU bills AND give me free time to allow me to work 5-6 hours/day on this blog. And this is cool stuff. So, here we go.
An independent, certified saddle fitter, Brita Rizzi of Dynamic Equine Saddle Fitting in North Carolina, uses a computerized pressure scan technology to help her determine where the pressure points are and where the saddle needs adjusting/reflocking. This new computer technology provides color imaging of the saddle area, highlighting contact and pressure points. It is wireless and works up to about 300 meters. These systems can pinpoint potential problems quickly and easily.
The pressure pad consists of 256 thin sensors which are sewn into a textile like material. The scan is done with the all the saddle pads the rider usually puts under the saddle (half pads, cotton pads etc) since it is important to see how the saddle scans with all pads in place. The pressure sensor pad is contoured and therefore conforms to the horse’s back with generous wither clearance. Any false readings can therefore be eliminated. The sensor pad is the most expensive and most sensitive element of the scanning system.
The in motion pressure scan lasts about 1 minute. After a ride is recorded (riding right and left hand) the software will take the readings of all sensors during the ride. On that pad, there is a black box that records the data of the pressure sensors, which is sent to a computer. The software receives the signals of the black box and visualizes the data for the rider.After the data has been recorded, the computer will calculate the average pressure of each individual sensor during this particular ride. This image which will show pressure points, bridging or a good even pressure distribution under the panels. The graphic image is displayed with various different colors: Blue corresponds to the least pressure, green and yellow are acceptable (a lot depends on the rider’s weight). Red means that the horse is experiencing a constant pressure under this particular spot of the saddle.
Every saddle will have ‘on and off’ pressure points during a scan – these are not bothering the horse. What creates a long term problem for the horse’s well being, is if there is pressure in particular area at all times (these areas are then displayed in red).
So, Brita Rizzi decided to give her pressure sensor technology a try for testing ECOGOLD pads (ECOGOLD did not order or participate in the testing in any way). The independent saddle fitter was curious to see what the results would be. And they were quite impressive. Here are the pressure scan test images:
Case 1 – Horse: Warmblood, Rider: 140 lbs, Dressage Saddle / Wool Flocked
Pressure Scan Results – This saddle was in need of total reflocking. The wool was hard and very compressed; especially in the wither area and under the stirrup bars. The Ecogold Memory Foam Triple Protection half pad improved the pressure under the saddle significantly.
Case 2 – Horse: Warmblood, Rider: 135 lbs, Dressage Saddle / Wool Flocked
Pressure Scan Results – Another saddle with hard lumpy wool in the panels and the significant difference with the Ecogold half pad. The pressure scan was done without changing the flocking in the saddle.
Case 3 – Horse: Thoroughbred with high withers and atrophied shoulder area, Rider: 130 lbs, Jumping saddle / foam panels
Pressure Scan Results – This horse was very difficult to fit and no matter what saddle and pad combo was tried, it was not possible to obtain a satisfactory pressure scanning result. The Ecogold Secure jumping saddle pad eliminated the pressure in the wither/shoulder area entirely.
“I did quite an array of comparison pressure scans with ECOGOLD saddle pads and the results are amazing,” said Brita, “It even improved the fit of a way too tightly fitting saddle. Usually, extra saddle pads make it a lot worse since you are creating more bulk under an already too-narrow tree. Another impressive feature is that ECOGOLD half pads stay up in the gullet and don’t come pressing down on the horse’s withers.”
I thought this was pretty cool. I’ve always known that the pads were good because I know the components used, (you know that if you put 5 tablespoons of sugar in your coffee, it’s going to be very sweet), but having technology like the pressure scans, actually show you what a product does to the horse’s back, is a step forward in helping improve horses’ comfort and well-being.
For more info about the saddle pads: Visit Ecogold’s website