Today we give you another article from regular contributor Sandra Blampied a registered Osteopath who specialise in treating horse riders.
After reading a recent online discussion it struck me that one of the main reason riders don’t get treatment for themselves is that they would rather spend the money on their horse than themselves. Well I can understand that, I recently found a load of old cheque book stubs from when I had my own horse and flicking through the amounts it scared me just how much and how often I would happily hand out cheques well over £100 for the farrier, dentist, back man, vets etc without a second thought and yet would seriously think and begrudge (still do!!) spending any more than £30 on myself!! Unfortunately what many riders don’t realise, I certainly didn’t back then, is that their own problems in the saddle are often what creates the problems in their horse.
On my first consultation with any rider I always ask what rein they would consider their horse to be stronger and weaker on, any problems they may have with lateral work or canter transitions. A recurring pattern I have seen time and time again is a rider will often tell me that their horse is weaker to strike off to canter on one rein, most commonly the left. On examination of the rider they often present with a rotation in their pelvis, most commonly to the right. If you sit and think about the canter aids for a moment (inside leg on the girth, outside leg back) when asking for right canter you rotate your pelvis to the right, when asking for left canter the rotation will be to the left. So a rider who is stuck in a right pelvic rotation will automatically struggle to ask for a left canter aid. One or two treatments later and the difference notice by the rider is usually quite a surprise to them, no longer is that canter aid a sticking point instead it happens just as easily as the other rein! A rotation in the pelvis doesn’t have to be due to an accident or injury, the reason most people have a right rotation is that most people are right handed and thus dominant on that side. Have a think about how you sit on the sofa, which leg do you tend to rest if standing for long periods of time or when you are driving if you drive one handed (naughty!) which is your preferred hand, then try to do the opposite – it will feel odd!
Another good example of how perceived issues in the horse are actually due to the rider comes from one of e-venting founders and her horse, Katie and Fleur aka the eventing wag. Katie has a rotation in her pelvis due to having one leg ever so slightly shorter than the other and thus has a tendency to sit with more weight through her right seat bone. In order to compensate for the extra weight going through the right seat bone and saddle Fleur moves ever so slightly in a constant right bend which is displayed most obviously by her tendency to head tilt and carry her tail over to the right. Only small errors, but in a dressage test these are factors that may just make the difference between an ok mark and an excellent mark. So, the point to this article? Well going back to the original point that most riders would rather spend the money on getting the horse treated rather than themselves perhaps now after reading this you can start to see that it is equally as important to get yourself looked at as well as your horse. Just treating one side of the partnership is almost a waste of time, effort and money.