The Performance Cameras could they help you and your horse?

The Performance Cameras I think need a bit of explaining - due to the fact not many riders have assess to them and they are also used slightly differently by each Equine professional that has them.  They are used by a variety of professionals such as Vet Practices, Farriers, Physios, Biomechanists and students within most of the Equine Colleges. 

The reason I invested in them was because I want to know everything when I fit a saddle! I have a real passion to understand what is happening and what I can do to help improve or fix it. The cameras allow me to delve into a deeper understanding and create a plan. 

The performance camera films at approximately 300 Frames Per Second so it is able to pick up every part of the horses limbs. It collects information the eye is just not able to see. There is a template for front and hind legs to run a report detailing the angles. It will give you the angles in degrees so you can assess the differences in near and off sides. You can measure the shoulder, elbow, knee, fetlock and coronet angles in the front and Tuber Coxae, Hip, Stifle, hock, fetlock and coronet in the hinds. It gives you length of stride, height and speed. You can also measure what limb is loading more. Depending on your professional role each individual will be looking to gain data to support that. For instance a Farrier may use it to identify the detail of the foot landing and how that affects the limbs above.

As a Saddle Biomechanist I use the cameras to assess many things. Lets look at all the different scenarios and what I am trying to gain by using them:

Performance when changing saddles - some riders will feel a block in some movements being performed. Maybe this block is in the back or the shoulder. It usually becomes clearer in the more advanced movements that the horse is struggling - possibly because the saddle is blocking it somewhere but the rider is not sure. In this scenario I am able to do several things. If for instance its the extended trot or canter work we can film side on and identify changes in stride length and height identifying degree differences in each saddle. If its the flying changes I like to film from behind as well as the sides as it can identify if the pelvis is unable to swing through the change, or if the hock is twisting or weak. This can all show changes with a saddle swap. This is where as a saddle brand owner I need to be open to learning and ensure I'm honest about what I see. It is definitely not about making my brand come out on top its about identifying exactly what this horse needs to help performance - if that is or is not a Cuomo Saddle its there in black and white. What I love is that the camera will identify the body change that the eye cannot see. I can put the same horse in three different saddles and it will identify the very detail of where movement improves or worsens. Obviously the rider will feel some of the changes also, but the infinite detail I can identify. Once identified we can look at how we work to correct the problem. Its amazing how different things can look to how they feel.

General Performance of the horse - Whilst working recently in America I was working with a Grand Prix rider who felt his horse fell to his right leg and pushed more that way. In the camera is was clear the horse was pushing more to the left - but that push was making it feel like he was going to the right. We were able to watch the footage back with his trainer and identify what the horse was doing. Following the new information he worked to correct this and found more elevation and self carriage. I love that the camera can offer this detail and really support that team progression.

How the Rider affects the Horse - Having worked with Andy Thomas (Human Physio for many Olympic Teams) for the last year has made it possible for me to assess what his work can achieve when changing the rider, directly for the horse. Its been great to run approximately 20 days of UK courses and clinics with Andy in 2019 and 2020 mostly using the cameras. Having a rider that is not activated equally within the pelvis has such a major impact on the horse. All riders that feel his work notice a difference in the horses way of going but with the use of the camera we can identify specifically how it changes the horse. The only time we don't see the horse change is when there is some sort of known or unknown pathology in the horse. I use Andy's methods in every saddle fit but when I am able to add the camera work as well we can really identify any work ahead.

 Rehabilitation Work - My most recent work has been on a Medium Level Dressage Horse that has had both Hind Leg Suspensories operated on. The horse has started back under saddle in walk and had progressed to trot. You could see from a normal video that this horse was not functioning normally from behind. I used the cameras to look at this horse from the side and from behind. What the analysis identified was an equal push off and stride length behind, but the hindlegs were crossing over the body creating an abnormal swing. The right hind especially swung to the outside of the left hind. Working with the rider who rides and trains professionally we have created a four week plan to try and address this movement, to see if we can widen the landing creating more stability. We also identified that the near fore stays on the ground longer than the off fore creating more forces in this fetlock. I have also worked with the trainer to correct this with in-hand work. Our plan is to film again in a few weeks to assess where we are if Corona allows!!

I rehabilitated a horse with severe arthritis in the neck, back, hocks and feet - the bones weren't actually the major problem it was soft tissue damage that put an end to him being able to work. At this point I did not have the use of these cameras which I now realise would have been such a massive support. I did most of his rehabilitation through the study and support of Science of Motion which I learnt so much from. What I can definitely say is that all horses no matter of type or ability and just like humans have there weaknesses and if we can identify them early enough and create a training plan to strengthen and straighten we stand a fighting chance of keeping that partnership in good working order for longer. It can make the difference of a good pirouette becoming excellent or a flying change becoming straighter and more through. With a good saddle that allows the horse to perform, an activated straight rider, a full understanding of what the horse is physically doing in motion and a structured plan - so much can be achieved. As always it takes a good team to build success so its important that the cameras support the farrier, vet, saddler, trainer and human/horse physio and body workers. The more these can all work together with a real understanding of what the partnership needs the better chance you have of keeping the horse healthy and sound.

Thanks for taking the time to read, if you have any questions please get in touch.