The horse, saddle and rider interaction can influence a horse’s performance, gait, symmetry, posture, lameness and pain. Likewise, imbalances or injuries in the horse will affect the rider.
Claire at Inkberrow Physiotherapy & Acupuncture has teamed up with Laura Stickley, a Holistic Equine Massage Practitioner, to offer a Horse and Rider Package to address both Horse and Rider Musculoskeletal complaints.
The Horse and Rider Interaction
Imbalances or injuries in the rider will have a direct effect on the horse. For example, if a rider suffers from lower back pain, they will certainly be compensating for this in their riding position. Consequently, the rider influences the musculoskeletal system of the horse because the horse will need adapt their movements to account for the imbalance. This can be the cause of a horses back problem, stiffness of a rein/s, head tilt or lameness. This can also influence a horse’s behaviour.
Even if you have no musculoskeletal complaints or pain you can improve a horse’s performance and physical capabilities through your fitness and posture. A study in 2016 by Alexandra Hampson supports this. Hampson recruited 10 mid-level dressage horses and their riders. Each horse–rider pair was fitted with a pressure-sensitive electronic saddle pad and reflective markers and then filmed at the sitting trot with high-speed video. The saddle pad detected peak and uneven pressures on the horse’s back and relayed the information to a computer. The reflective markers allowed precise measurements of stride length and other movements. Not surprisingly, all the riders were asymmetrical, resulting in significant pressure differences on the left and right sides of the horse’s back. The riders then completed a basic eight-week core fitness program, which consisted of exercises to strengthen and stabilise muscles of the trunk and pelvis to improve rider balance and flexibility. These exercises were completed three times a week for 20 minutes. After the eighth week, the horse–rider pairs were filmed again at the sitting trot, and the results were compared with the first test. The riders sat more symmetrically, reducing uneven pressure on the horses’ backs, and the horses moved more freely, with an average 8.4% increase in stride length. Riders also reported that they were more stable and better able to sit into a bigger trot. This will of course lead to improved equine comfort and performance.
If you or your horse are suffering from any musculoskeletal complaints or you feel your riding position is affecting your horse’s locomotion and performance, please get in touch with Inkberrow Physiotherapy & Acupuncture or Laura Stickley, Holistic Equine Massage Practitioner about their Horse and Rider Package, which will address both horse and rider imbalances and musculoskeletal complaints.
Initial Physiotherapy Assessment and treatment plus
Equine Assessment and Treatment session
DISCOUNTED TO £80