Dr Yolanda Fisher (Osteopath)

Inner peace. Joy. Elation.

These sorts of sensations can be experienced when doing something we love. These are the emotions which fill my body and soul when I gallop my horse, bareback down a five kilometre stretch of golden sand, only air and the hair on her back between us. For most, we do something like horse riding because of the way it makes us feel. 

However, as with every sport and past time, injuries and compensations can occur within the body. Through my experience as an equestrian and osteopath, most horse riders experience similar types and areas of pain. 

Horse riders tend to suffer from low back, neck and shoulder pain

During every stage of a riders career, from learning rising trot to piaffe pirouettes, a horse rider endeavours to keep their bum in close contact with the saddle. This, combined with any missteps that occur during transitions can cause a jarring effect, a continuous compressive force on the low back. Similarly, as riding is a very lower body dominant sport, tension in these muscles through repetitive use, such as the hip flexors, can directly cause low back pain.  

Although horse riding does not utilise the upper extremity muscles like those required for an exercise such as climbing, it is my experience that horse riders often experience fatigue due to bracing through the upper back and shoulders. 

Finally, not to mention importantly, anyone who has fallen off a horse, comprehends the whiplash type symptoms which can occur as a result of the impact with the ground. 

These are the most common complaints I have come across, both professionally and personally  in horse riders. Regardless of the complaint, the message here is:

don’t let it, whatever that may be, interrupt the things you love doing.

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I am fervent in the fact that a sustainable resolve to a complaint or symptom stems from a thorough understanding of its origin. In some instances, a riders area of dissonance may originate from the horse as the human-equine partnership is one which mimics a mirror. Anyone who is a keen equestrian will have some level of perception of this. In this instance I always encourage every horse rider to ensure their four-legged friend also receives treatment as any imbalances or restrictions within the horse will be transferred to the rider, and visa versa. The chances are, the restrictions found will be similar in both.

For me, it is this partnership, this reflection of ones self that gives horse riding its sense of inner peace, joy and elation and I never wish any discomfort in my body to take away from that.