Riding question.

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by GalloFino, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. GalloFino

    GalloFino Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 28, 2010
    I rode regularly (3 times a week) for a few years about 10 years ago and am now getting back to it. I've had a child in the meantime, which has given me a slightly different body, plus I have scoliosis and the curvature in my spine (S shaped, puts my hips and my shoulders at different levels) has increased. I have all the problems I've always had with my riding, plus some new weirdness, which is that I always post with the horse's right shoulder, regardless of what direction we're going in. When I check myself, and sit or two point a beat to switch to posting off the other side, the gait just feels soft and mushy to me and I end up inadvertently switching back to the other side which pushes me up to post. Note that this happens with three different horses...it's all me. What the hell?
  2. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    I think you can get back in shape and ride very well despite changes associated with scoliosis. It's just a matter of getting back into it and riding consistently. Muscles can make up for a lot of imperfections in one's own 'conformation'.

    Sitting in a saddle, you're much more flexible and adjustable, than you are walking, or even sitting in a chair. You can move around, even yourself up and get into an effective position.

    The trick is to just start out with a brief ride, and gradually, over a few weeks, add a couple minutes a day, so that you don't sore yourself up too much. It doesn't have to take forever, a few weeks to ramp up is usually good.

    If your horses all feel like they have one mushy diagonal, and you often find yourself back on the other stronger diagonal, the most likely cause of it is that they are out of shape, too.

    Most horses are stronger on one side than the other and they tend to put the person back on the stronger diagonal.

    When they are ridden frequently, and circled in both directions and you post on both diagonals, that makes them stronger on the weak side so they are more 'even', and have 'two same diagonals'.

    When they aren't ridden for a while, when you start riding them again, you start back at zero with all the issues you formerly fixed, back in force. Evenness, balance, etc. These aren't programmed in. When the animal gets time off, the muscles go away, and so does the training. It has to be 'put back in'.

    You can get so you can stay on the weak diagonal by focusing on it, but you might want to get some videotapes made, or even have some riding lessons, to be sure of what is happening and how best to fix it.

    What I do in a case like that is to get on a circle, a big circle, like 60ft across, and switch back and forth from one diagonal to the other, while circling in the SAME direction. Yup.

    About half the circle on one diagonal, half on the other. Rather than riding continuously on the one weak diagonal which is more stress and more likely to get them sour and sore. Then circle on the other direction, and keep changing the diagonals back and forth on THAT direction.

    I don't start right off doing this exercise on dozens of circles, I might start with doing 3 circles each way, and each ride, add another circle each way.

    It also helps if you can feel which hind leg is not working as hard, and 'kick that one up' all the time. Sitting on the 'wrong' diagonal can help you time your leg aids so it has the best effect.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  3. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

    Jun 8, 2008
    NE Michigan
    I think a good instructor as well as some exercises to work both sides of the body and your back and core muscles would help immensely.
  4. hencrazy

    hencrazy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 5, 2009
    I too have scoliosis and riding is very difficult for me. No matter what I do I am never balanced. The thing that helped me most was a good instructor. You can't see what you are doing wrong when you're on the horse.
  5. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
  6. Ohne-Fehler

    Ohne-Fehler Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2010
    Quote:I agree a good instructor could make all the difference! Exercise may also help, I think exercise is always important for every rider. I had a trainer that required you to work out. Yoga is excellent it strengthens your core, improves balance and flexibility. I still do yoga to improve my seat. Equestrians are athletes after all and in nearly every other sport you do more than just play your sport you condition and work out. I played collegiate polo and not only did we spend at least 2 hours a day in the saddle we also had to hit the gym.
  7. GalloFino

    GalloFino Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 28, 2010
    Thanks much for all the comments and suggestions, I really appreciate it!

    I think I get what you're saying welsummerchicks, and when I noticed this posting issue with the first horse I was using I presumed it was an issue with the horse not using his hindquarters evenly. But then when I had the same problem on horse 2 and 3, I thought I'd better stop pointing fingers. [​IMG] These are lesson horses, not mine, and almost all of them are worked daily, most of the time at a trot. I don't feel that they are worked correctly in terms of using both sides evenly, they are all fairly stiff, etc, but they are worked and on both sides frequently enough that I don't think it would account for what I'm feeling on all three of them...but I also don't have enough experience to definitively judge.

    In terms of my own fitness...I'm definitely not in riding shape yet, although I'm slowly improving. When we started a month ago I actually had to take multiple breaks during a one hour lesson.

    I can't say enough good things about yoga. I'd never done any when I was riding before, but have done a lot during my break from riding and it has made such a difference in my ability to keep track of what the various parts of my body are doing and to engage individual parts, well, to try and engage to the extent my current fitness allows!

    A good instructor is going to have to wait until I move back up north. I've actually been doing some networking and have come across a gal who looks like she'll be great for both my son and I, so I'm really excited about that. What I'm mainly getting from where we're riding at now is butt in the saddle time, which I definitely need. And my son is young enough to be learning via osmosis. Today he trotted past me with his rear end completely glued to the saddle. It's not fair. [​IMG]
  8. Epona142

    Epona142 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2008
    Bedias, TX
    I have curvature of the spine as well.

    Riding my pony is like riding a jackhammer and I always end up with back pain.

    So I went and bought a Missouri Fox Trotter. No more posting. YAY. Much happier.
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    A couple suggestions to explore.

    First, this will not apply to most people but on the offchance it might apply to you I will mention it, if you find it useful to read about this sort of thing, and find mental imagery useful for correcting your position, check out Mary Wanless's books. Some people find her quite helpful for correcting issues involving being all skewed around or lopsided in the saddle.

    Second, get someone to watch you ride. They do NOT need to know the first darned thing about horses [​IMG] they just need to have eyeballs and a voice. First, have them look at you from the front right after you've mounted, with your feet OUT of the stirrups... have them see whether the stirrup irons are exactly even with each other. Then (don't adjust them!) go warm up for ten minutes or whatever, then have them look at you from the front again. What do the stirrup irons look like now, are they still even? These two pieces of information will give you an idea of whether misadjustment of equipment may be contributing to your problem. (Note that a few people actually *need* their stirrups to be slightly different heights, so it is important to look both at the before and during-ride positions before making any changes)

    Third, get that person to watch you WHILE you are riding. Even if they do not know squat about horses or horsemanship, they can tell you simple things like the following:

    -When you trot a straight line towards them, are your hips level with each other, is one hip going out to the side, are your shoulders level with each other?

    -When you trot a circle around them in each direction, is the axis of your hips and shoulders lined up with the radius of the circle (ie. so you are neither turning your back very slightly to the person in the center as you go around, nor turning your front very slightly to them as you go around) and (HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART) is it identical in both directions? [I am not proposing to debate the different schools of thought regarding the exact angulation of your shoulder and hip axes on a circle, the real big point here is that it needs to be the SAME.]

    I will bet you dollars to donuts that if you have someone watch you they will find useful things to work on in these latter points (one fairly common reason to have a tendency to always fall back onto one diagonal is because you are slumping or twisting in the saddle, as a habit not as an anatomical necessity, and this can be fixed to a considerable degree just by being aware of it and working on it).

    And of course whenever you GET access to an instructor that would be good too [​IMG] but you can do a lot on your own in the meantime.

    Oh... and VIDEO, get someone to VIDEO you riding and you may be able to see *yourself* what needs to change. Good video, not itsy-speck-in-the-distance or close-up-of-riders-waist-jiggling-around-in-the-pic. A tripod or a table to rest the camera on is real useful. Have your groundperson do this when they're watching you [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  10. Baybrio

    Baybrio Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 11, 2008
    Poplar Grove, IL
    I second the suggestion of Mary Wanless's books I was able to fix many of my own problems many screaming dressage instructors had failed to change. [​IMG]

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