Weight issues and owners’ lack of knowledge among top concerns for saddlery fitters

  • Horse weight issues – and owners’ lack of knowledge – are among some of the biggest concerns for saddlery fitters, new data has suggested.

    Redwings, the Horse Trust and the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) have published new data from a short survey of UK-based saddlery fitters. The survey was part of a project between the three organisations, who also launched an online course this summer for SMS members focusing on the role saddlery fitters play in observing and helping to resolve some of the issues that may affect horse welfare.

    Of the 41 participants who completed the survey, 22.45% said the biggest welfare concern was horse weight issues – and the second biggest concern was owners’ lack of knowledge.

    When asked which were the main issues they believed equine welfare organisations faced 15.49% of respondents said abandonment, followed by 13.04% who said obesity, and 11.59% inappropriate work/lameness.

    More than half of the respondents said they were either extremely or somewhat likely to contact a welfare organisation if they were concerned about a horse. The most common reason given for being reluctant to contact a welfare organisation about a horse was compromising the relationship with their client, but 85.4% said client confidentiality would not prevent them from reporting cruelty or neglect.

    “It’s so important to work with equine professionals, such as saddlery fitters, who have regular contact with horses and their owners and really have the opportunity to influence horse welfare in a positive way,” said Redwings chief executive Lynn Cutress.

    Redwings campaigns manager Andie McPherson added the survey was the first of its kind and despite being a small sample, it delivered some “interesting insights” into saddlery fitters’ understanding of welfare priorities and the work of welfare charities in the UK.

    “We would be delighted for more analysis to be carried out on the data and for it to inspire reflection on the important role equine professionals play in good equine welfare and how welfare organisations can work more closely with saddle fitters to tackle some of the pressing issues that they come across,” she said.

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