Fairfax Testing Team
Fairfax uses Pliance pressure mapping to monitor tack pressure, combined with Centaur Biomechanics gait to accurately assess exactly how every design change impacts on pressure and how this affects freedom of movement.
By measuring and analysing precise changes in limb extension and joint flexion, the designers know what the horse is experiencing. These scientific measurements are completely unbiased and remove all subjectivity.
A mat with hundreds of sensors is placed on the horse under the tack being tested and these sensors send readings to a computer. The results are displayed as moving graphs and a colour image on the screen where coloured areas indicate potentially harmful pressure points.
Pliance can gather data through all paces including jumping. It is operated by Mark Fisher on behalf of the Society of Master Saddlers and the British Equestrian Federation who jointly own the system.
Russell Guire of Centaur Biomechanics uses 2-D markers or 3-D measuring units placed on the horse's skin over key joints. The horse is then photographed in movement at speeds approximately 25 times faster than the human eye. A computer program provides detailed information on the horse’s joint and limb angles which allows scientists to measure the difference in extension, flexion and freedom of movement.
Russell’s data removes all doubt about what the rider might think they can feel. Gait analysis demonstrates exactly how much longer or shorter the horse’s stride is, or precisely how much more a joint is extending with each change that’s made to a piece of tack.
The combination of pressure mapping and gait analysis provides a precise and undisputable measure of improvement in performance.
3D Pliance Pressure Diagram