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March 31, 2011

Of Horses and Horsemen (and -women).

As a chiropractor I have treated numerous horseback riders with significant injuries acquired from falling off their horses numerous times.  Based on the severity and chronicity of the injuries I have treated, it is my sincere opinion that every horse should come with its own rebate punchcard for chiropractic services - falling off is just that injurious!
However, I have also treated a fair number of expert riders - and entirely different issues come up.  Instead of whiplash-looking neck trauma and massive low back pain; headaches with neck pain and massively inflamed shoulder and back muscles - we are talking balance and posture in the saddle, communication with the horse and performance.
I have now seen it enough times that I can predict what the rider is going to experience from our care: A feeling of improved balance in the saddle from a more upright riding posture, more equal pressure on the ischial tuberosities ("sit bones") leading to less stress on the low back, mid back and arms, a more harmonious experience with their horse.
What happens is this: When the pelvis stops functioning correctly, the resulting "misalignment" most often places unequal pressure downward from the pelvis to the saddle. The problem arises because this asymmetrical pressure from the hips, in horse language, is an order to turn to one side.  In order counteract this, the rider then has to pull harder on the reigns on the other side.  The net result is that the horse finally goes straight, significant strain on the rider's arm and back muscles and spine - and one pissed off horse!
Today, an expert rider mentioned that after we got the problem corrected, apart from her backpain being gone, her horse actually seemed more eager to go riding with her and reacted quicker to commands - pretty neat!!