Back to Saddles


I am posting more images of saddles.  Most are dressage. Above is an image of a saddle that “bridges” .  This is an example of a saddle that does not have even pressure and is not touching the horses back in the area that the rider sits.

If the saddle has wool flocking then it can be corrected.

I have added links to Corcoran Saddlery.  Mike Corcoran uses thermography in his saddle fitting and has been a big help to me in understanding thermography.

More on the practice of soring and thermography

The above images are from a paper written by Tracy Turner, DVM.
This is a link to it

These images clearly show the barbaric methods that are used on these horses. I was unable to count the number of nails in the radiographs of the shod horse. The thermographic image shows the heat around the coronary band from the application of a caustic agent such as kerosene.
The trainers use other methods such as shoeing the horse and placing rocks inside the pads so that they place pressure on the sole.

Thermography and The Tennessee Walking Horse

This is a link to a video that was shown on the ABC News.  It shows the cruelty and abuse that the TWH is subjected, all in the name of winning.  If you can stomach the video you will see the part that involves the horse standing in cross ties and being beaten with an axe handle.  This so called “training” technique is used to teach the horse not to react to the pastern or coronary band region being touched.

The horses are inspected at shows by manual touch in order to detect sensitivity or scars from the practice of soring which is involves the application of caustic chemicals to the pastern region or coronary band.  This causes pain when the horse steps on that leg and thus enhances the horse’s front end motion.

So, this is where thermography comes in!.  Thermography is now being used to detect abnormal areas on the pastern and coronary band region.  All of this can be done without touching the horse.

Below is a thermographic image of a horse that has had caustic chemicals applied to the pastern region.  Image is  from the article written by Dr. Tracy Turner…/hp/…/thermography_presentation.pdf

Just for reference , below is a normal set of front legs on a horse

Note the symmetry and evenness of the coronary band and the relative “coolness” of the pasterns.  This is what a normal horse looks like. The photo above shows increased heat (the red) due to caustic chemicals being applied.

I will post more later about the use of thermography, the Horse Protection Act and Dr Tracy Turner.  Dr Turner is a pioneer in the use of thermography in horses and has worked with the USDA to train inspectors in the use of thermography in order to stop this cruel practice.

Thermography for the fun of it.

I started this blog in order to display the images from the many requests that I have had by friends and clients to image their horses, dogs, themselves.  I originally started learning about thermography as I thought it was a tool I could use to prevent injuries in our horses which compete in 3 day eventing. As a veterinarian, I am aware of it’s value and also the limitations of thermography.

Below is a definition of thermography from Wikipedia.  Much more in depth than what I am interested in as I was attracted by the cool images and the ease of use of the cameras.

“Thermography is based on infra red heat and the fact that injuries to soft tissue have heat. A thermographic camera Thermal imaging cameras detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum (roughly 9,000–14,000 nanometers or 9–14 µm) and produce images of that radiation, called thermograms. Since infrared radiation is emitted by all objects above absolute zero according to the black body radiation law, thermography makes it possible to see one’s environment with or without visible illumination. The amount of radiation emitted by an object increases with temperature; therefore, thermography allows one to see variations in temperature. When viewed through a thermal imaging camera, warm objects stand out well against cooler backgrounds; humans and other warm-blooded animals become easily visible against the environment, day or night. As a result, thermography is particularly useful to military and other users of surveillance cameras.”

The fact is that injuries and pressure produce heat,and this therefore allows one to identify areas of the animal, or when used for saddle fitting, areas of the saddle, that are experiencing increased heat or increased pressure.

I have found thermography to be of use in the following areas:

1.  determination of increased heat before or after exercise in an animal

2. rehab of an animal after an injury

3. saddle fitting assesment

The saddle imaging in particular intrigues me as I have always found saddle fitting to be arbitrary and subjective.  The thermography adds an objective way to determine fit and many times whether the rider is a contributing factor.

In order to image a saddle, the horse should be ridden under saddle in all gaits for at least 15-20 minutes.  The saddle is then removed and placed on its cantle and the bottom side, or panels and flaps are imaged with the thermographic camera.  Any unevenness or pressure can be easily seen.

So, let me start with some images of saddles.

Below is an image of a well fitted saddle.  Note the even pressure of the panels and the flaps.  This saddle was imaged after having been placed on the horse and ridden by the rider for at least 15 minutes at all gaits.

Well fitted saddle with even pressure in panels and flaps

This saddle has wool flocking and can be reflocked as needed. Below is an image of this saddle prior to being reflocked. Note the unevenness and irregularity in the panels. The horse was having back issues.