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  • Writer's picturemaxine cooch

Are you a Wonky Rider?

Did you know that your ailments and asymmetries can directly effect your horse? A recent study by Centaur Biomechanics Russel MacKechnie-Guire (and others) in 2020 showed that not only did rider asymmetry affect the stability of the the horses back (they found an increased in the side to side (lateral) movement of the thoracic (mid) spine, but also saw an increase in the extension of the fetlock in the side the riders were leaning too. Whilst this seems obvious when written down, when I first read about it, it blow my mind. We all know we have an effect on our horses way of going (that's the point of riding, surely?) I was astounded to read just by how much.

As a consequence I have renewed enthusiasm for my rider performance analysis sessions. If I can help you as a rider in any way, then surely I will also be helping your horse. And that is what my job is really about. Keeping horses happy makes me happy.

So I really just wanted to introduced my rider performance analysis sessions to you and describe what it is all about.

Firstly I think it can be so beneficial for everyone to have a session (obviously I would say that!) But

here's why. Many of the riders I have worked with have not perceived themselves to have a problem. But instead have perhaps been struggling with one particular movement, right leg yield for example. You may know that your horse is just fine, you have them checked regularly by your physio, but things just are not coming together. You may be applying the correct aid at the correct time, but still not getting the response you want? Well, have you considered that perhaps your left leg just isn't strong enough to apply the pressure to give the clear aid for right leg yield?

Or perhaps you are just returning to riding after maternity leave, things just are not feeling quite the same, maybe your just not as balanced or find you are starting to lean one way or the other.

Either way you could benefit from a rider performance session. The session starts with a discussion of any issues you have or haven't been having, plus any goals or things in particular you would like to be able to do but feel you just can't.

I then apply white markers to your clothing (please wear dark clothes on the day) this will highlight to me any anomalies or asymmetries that you have. I also like to check your general strength before you get on your horse. Are you able to squat efficiently, do you end up leaning to one side, are you compensating anywhere? This will give me an idea of how this may translate to your riding. One thing here, I am not an instructor. I am not there to tell you how you should be doing it, instead I want you to tell me how you want to be able to do it, and I can see if I can help by adjusting your posture, loosening any tightness' and strengthening any weakness'.

You will be asked to ride as usual, I will watch quietly and take some video footage

From there I will then get you off your horse and carry a a few more simple tests of strength and tightness to further assess where the problem may be coming from. I will address these using some simple therapeutic techniques to help lengthen tight muscles and wake up sleepy ones. You will then get back on and feedback how it feels.

This usually happens 2-3 times until we feel like there has been an improvement. From that I can ascertain where the problem may be coming from. Plus develop a bespoke exercise program for you to adhere to. I will email you with a brief outline of the session (in picture form) alongside your home exercise program.

You may also chose to combine this session with an equine physiotherapy session. This way we can be sure that your horse if free from any compensatory patterns, ready for you to get back on and have a free and comfortable ride.

You can learn more about equine physiotherapy sessions here. To make an appointment please visit my website or give me a call on 07779003359.

I will look forward to hearing form you.


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