19 Dec Chiropractic for horse riders
“The Best Advice…. EVER!”
Sometimes, for reasons best known to the greater universe, a friend will offer a suggestion to a problem that will seem ridiculous and pointless, but actually turns out to be the best piece of advice you ever received. This is exactly what happened to one dressage rider after her trusty horse of many years started to be less responsive to her commands and her standard of dressage went rapidly downhill. Mentioning her predicament to a friend, Jo Simmonds, 49, was surprised to hear that her solution might lie in visiting renowned chiropractor, Nicholas Richmond.
With much scepticism and absolutely no pain or physical abnormalities of any kind, Jo made an appointment to see Nick, who had already helped a number of professional show jumpers, event riders and international dressage riders with similar problems. When she first entered Nick’s practice, Jo felt somewhat foolish explaining that she was there because her horse was not behaving in its usual manner or reacting correctly to her commands. Nick soon put her at ease and after his initial assessment he explained that Jo’s pelvis was heavily tilted down on the right side, due to a weak musculature on her right side, which meant that when sitting astride her horse, Jo was leaning to the right, without noticing, thinking she was sitting up straight. As a result, Jo’s horse was getting an input from her to turn right when in fact she actually wanted him to go forward or left. Another aspect of the pelvis tilting was that the corresponding ankle and leg was clattering against the horse, reinforcing the unintended command to turn. When it came to introducing a command to the horse to turn left, Jo found she was having to pull on a huge amount of extra rein to get the horse to turn. Under these circumstances it was impossible for the horse to understand the rider and therefore get the precision they needed for the standards required in the dressage arena.
Although Nick has no experience in riding at all, his knowledge and interest in biomechanics (the study of the skeletal system and how it moves), meant that he knew, without asking, that she had an extra hole in her stirrup leather and how her horse had been behaving, just by looking at her. Amazed, Jo realised that this had not been a waste of time after all!
Nick was able to realign Jo’s pelvis and spine and gave her some corrective exercises to complete at home to keep them in place. When Jo came back for her second treatment she was delighted to tell Nick that she had her old, trusty horse back who was doing everything that he should do because Jo was now able to give the correct instructions and commands to her horse. Before her appointment with Nick, her horse could only do a half pass one way, now he could do both directions again with ease. All of the problems that Jo had found with communicating with her horse were corrected after just one session with Nick.
When watching dressage, the bond between horse and rider is a wonder to behold. It makes sense therefore, for the link between the two to go beyond the arena and into the realms of health. If a horse is musculo-skeletally healthy but the rider is not and they continue to ride together, the horse will eventually become imbalanced. Likewise, if the horse is out of alignment, this will transgress to the rider over time. In order to have the best possible performance from your horse, both you and your horse must be as mechanically sound as possible. This applies to all riding activities, from dressage to hacking out. Another client of Nick’s, who is a professional dressage rider, always makes an appointment with Nick two days before each and every event. Taking this line further, it is therefore also essential to get your horse checked for musculo-skeletal misalignment too.
All riding is about strength, balance and posture. In order to get these right, a visit to a chiropractor such as Nick is essential, to ensure the rider is able to communicate effectively with the horse when in the saddle.