Horse riders are often so busy looking after their horses that they fail to take care of themselves. Riders need to begin to recognise themselves as sports people, and start treating their bodies accordingly. How your body is functioning has a direct impact on how your horse will perform.
Typical horse riding injuries often occur to the upper part of the body such as the neck, shoulders and arms, in particular the wrists. If a rider falls they often brace their impact with the ground by putting their arms out in front of them often injuring the wrist. Many riders may experience whiplash type injuries if their horse stops suddenly and they are thrown forward.
Many horse riding injuries can also be treated with physiotherapy. This means that you can get back to horse riding sooner and with more confidence. A physiotherapist will also be able to recommend treatments for longer term or chronic conditions that may have been the result of an injury sustained long ago. Often people who love horse riding will put up with a degree of pain and reduced mobility in order to continue riding. This need not be the case, most conditions can be treated completely or at the very least improved.
Stiffness, weakness, asymmetry and fitness of the rider all has a huge impact on how your horse performs. At Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy, Chantal Wingfield is a qualified Physiotherapist with a specialist interest in horse rider’s performance. Being a keen horse rider herself and having previously competed in a wide range of horse riding disciplines she has an in-depth knowledge of the physical demands on horse-riders.
All of the below can directly impact how you and your horse perform. Here are just a few examples:
Symmetry: if you have an asymmetry in your hips (e.g one hip is tighter than the other), this can really put your horse off balance. This could in turn cause your horse to knock a fence, or make it harder for your horse to do a half pass.
Core strength: horse riders need a lot of core strength to stay upright in the saddle. If you have a weak core, it could be affecting your balance, posture, and endurance when riding. This would also make you more prone to injury, especially back pain.
Strength: If you have poor shoulder stability, you may not be able to hold your horse sufficiently. This could cause him to run at a fence uncontrolled and knocking it.
Physiotherapy for horse riders
You may not realise that your poor posture is damaging your body and cause imbalances whilst riding. You may have poor posture whilst riding but more commonly it will be due to other activities such as sitting at a desk, driving or even just sitting or standing. Incorrect posture can lead to changes in the body that will go to affect your performance whilst riding.