Horse Saddle Adjunct for Adolescents with Core Instability

The Ohio State University

Cemantha Lane, Jessica Balhorn, Erin Donnelly, Sarah Feder, Emma Haas, and Claire Hale

Children and adolescents with disabilities encounter daily challenges that affect their ability to function physically, mentally, and socially. Several recreational activities, including therapeutic horseback riding, have proven to have therapeutic effects for individuals with a diverse range of diagnoses. Although horseback riding has grown in popularity as a therapeutic approach, individuals who are unable to stabilize their trunks, such as those with cerebral palsy, encounter unique challenges that make it difficult to participate. Designing an adaptive saddle adjunct that augments the issue of core instability will enable individuals who present with core instability to reap the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding, mitigating the barriers currently that these individuals currently face. Our design solution consists of modular front and rear supports that can be used separately or in tandem depending on the needs of the user. The vertically and horizontally adjustable rear support attaches to a semirigid base pad that distributes generated stresses across the horse’s back to avoid pressure point generation. The front support consists of a bolster pillow that straps to the anterior D-rings of an English saddle. Via horse comfort evaluations, pressure mapping, force testing, and a clinical Quest survey, we have confirmed that our saddle adjunct is a promising device that can increase participation in therapeutic horseback riding by providing riders with additional support and tactile postural feedback. Overall, we are confident that this device will enable individuals who present with core instability to more fully reap the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding.

RESNA Design Brief

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