How osteopathy can help horse riders

Alongside all sports men and women, the art of horse-riding requires many physical and psychological qualities: namely courage, balance, timing, co-ordination and the ability to absorb movement.

Our horses mirror us. If we cannot sit to the movement of the horse with a flexible spine and release our hips for example, we will contract our back muscles and brace elsewhere in the body, in order to stay on. As a result, the horse will contract their back muscles and become even harder to sit on.

A reciprocally flexible and well- muscled spine shared between horse and rider allows for ease of movement.

We cannot expect our horses to perform movements or jump fences if our aids are not clear.

Rider injury for example lower back pain, leads to a protective posture. This results in a lack of flexibility and slow reflex responses to movement. As a result the rider’s aids become unclear and therefore the horse does not perform as intended.

Whether enjoying a long hack, a high performance dressage test or show-jumping round, a rider’s balance and symmetry are very important in making the horse’s work as easy as possible.

Osteopaths work to enhance flexibility and symmetry of the spine and the rest of the body.  For the horse rider, this will result in quicker reflex reactions allowing our body’s instinctive responses to ‘do what we want them to’.

It is very common for riders to find difficulties with:

  • A slow reacting right leg, which tends to lose its position in the stirrup more often than the left.
  • A rotated upper body position which helps on one rein and hinders the other rein.
  • A dominant left hand with the right rein feeling too light.
  • A habitual head posture of looking down.
  • And so on……

All these riding issues stem from postural imbalances, which can reflect and inhibit your horse’s performance.

Written by Hannah Koeller.

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