Equestrian Problems

I overheard someone complaining about their cats $50 per month medication.

$50. Per month.

Now, I am not saying anything bad about cats. If my husband wasn’t so allergic I would be the crazy cat lady!

But this got me wondering how absolutely out of touch riders are with reality! So, from my beautiful unicorn, I wrote my top 5 equestrian problems!

1) I have horses scattered across Ontario. When was the last time you lived 2 hours from one of your baby cats and 45 minutes from your large retired fat cat and small mini cat.

Well, photo angle makes the mini look like a maxi.
Cuteness beats logic every time!

Prior to baby I had visited Niagara Falls about as many times as I can count on one hand, in my 33 years, and I limit visits to family due to kilometers and “wear and tear” on my car. Baby Loki is 3 weeks old and I have made the 2 hour drive 3 times.

Sorry not sorry. Cars can be replaced.

2) I basically pay a mortgage payment to two different barns to keep the horses. That doesn’t include feet, vet, chiropractic, massage, nothing! Oh ya, and because Monty (fat retired cat) has back arthritis he is currently wearing $700 worth of blankets.

$700.

MY jacket isn’t even worth that much. And my husband went 2 winters WITHOUT a winter jacket so Monty could get more Back on Track blankets for his sore back!

Oh, and the $50 meds? How about $160 in Omeprazole for 30 days for your sensitive Sally’s belly. And that isn’t even the brand name Omeprazole. I don’t want to be the cause of heart problems, from shock, in my non horse friends so let’s continue on!

Monty living his best life.

3) I quit my job as an equine vet tech and got a job in a busy call centre to afford my horses.

Will this work?

And the “greatest” part about horses is that they will just keep filling the new budgets. It is never ending.

Got a higher paying job? Awesome, because your horse put its leg through a fence and needs stitches (true story from Christmas Day at 4:30pm 2017).

Opened a savings account? Stop kidding yourself and skip the sad truth of putting the money in just to take it back out. Just send the money straight to the tack store for the new custom saddle.

Bonus? Better call the chiropractor for the horse and someone to clip your Yak of a pony.

It. Never. Ends.

Now my savings account sits at $0.02.

But my recent promotion means they have new space to expand into!

4) Not one of my horses have a job. I have 3 horses and I am not able to ride one!

Monty was my eventer but was retired at 8 after years of on and off soundness issues. Turns out my future superstar has severe osteoarthritis in his spine. My mini, Oreo, was bought as his companion for shows and now is living his best life as a feral retired pony!

And my new born dream foal is living his best life in baby heaven!

Hopefully one day baby Loki will be my eventing super star otherwise I am collecting “broken” horses!

5) Vacations? Weekends away?

Old vacationing pics will have to do!

Vacations are unknown words to the Equestrian! Equestrians are too broke for vacations and weekends are for horse shows!

My poor husband and I have a cottage we rarely use because he can’t drag me away from the horses long enough!

Why go out of town when you can go to horse shows?

Regardless….

For all the stress, money and time horses cost.

For the ascinine vet bills that build up on your secret credit card.

The heartbreak over an 8 year old with so much potential having to be retired.

The constant worry over temperature and if your horse is too hot or too cold.

Wondering if you are doing all the things right and helping your horse live their best life.

Wearing clothes with holes in them so you can put the money into board at the best facility you can find (and the sleepless nights finding it).

For the missed vacations, weekends in the barn instead of on a beach and the partners that wonder wtf they got themselves into.

For all the craziness….

I wouldn’t change a thing.

Owning a horse is expensive. More expensive than your cat or dog. Or 10 cats and dogs. And sometimes they don’t pay attention to you ( I guess sort of like a big cat)….

Eff off lady, I only love my mom.

But is it ever worth it.

Once you are horse girl you will die a horse girl.

It is like a virus that pumps through your veins.

And you will lay down your last penny, your last breath, for your horse.

I would legitimately do sketchy things to make sure my horses only had the best. Selling organs in Mexico is a viable option, right?

So while we may be a bit crazy, and insanity ensues on the reg, it is worth every second and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Xo

Ashley

Posture for the rider

Instructors, here is the truth about yelling “Shoulders back” at your riders. It doesn’t work. And it isn’t that it doesn’t work because the rider is ignoring you or isn’t trying. It doesn’t work because tightness in the riders body is CAUSING the shoulders to be internally rotated and weakness in the abs is further building on this problem.

This is not something that can be fixed in the saddle.

What causes a hunched position

Clients come from a variety of backgrounds BUT the one thing many have in common is the fact that they do either a lot of time sitting at a desk (student, office worker) OR they do a lot of time driving. Both of these positions cause tightness in the front of the shoulder and chest, also known as the internal rotators.

The more someone sits with their shoulders rounded forward the tighter the internal rotators get, however this isn’t the end of the problem! This position also causes the back muscles to weaken and lengthen. The very muscles that would maintain a tall position and shoulders back.

This position further impacts the rider with a weak core, tight hip flexors and weak glutes. For the purpose of today we are focusing on shoulders.

Here is a graphic for the problems hunched shoulders create:

What does this mean for the horse?

When you have hunched shoulders your core is weak, forcing you to sit on the back of your pelvis. Sitting in your chair right now sit up tall with a strong core then allow your shoulders to hump forward and stop any contraction in your core. Do you notice how you go from sitting evenly on your pelvis to the back of your pelvis? Your body literally folds forward from pelvis to shoulders.

Now, sit up tall again, core tight. Force your shoulders back by pushing your chest forward. If you have naturally tight internal rotators right now your chest will naturally pop forward to accommodate the shoulders being forced back. Notice how your lower back arches and you shift to the FRONT of your pelvis? THIS is what happens when you tell a client “Shoulders back” and they force them back with tight internal rotators.

Here is a graphic to illustrate what I just described:

We require a neutral seat to not only have a strong and balanced position but to also properly influence the horse with clear aids. Imagine how FRUSTRATED your horse is when you are giving unclear aids and they are trying to interpret what you want!

Riders, and coaches, if the shoulders are being forced back, causing an exaggerated arch in the lower back this is the position you are in:

Forcing the shoulders back, despite the tight chest and weak core is causing extreme rounding of the lower back. Notice how this position is also forcing the legs forward and the rider is unable to properly get the heels down, so the toes point out. Without fixing the root cause you are only causing issues downstream of the “issue” you have fixed.

Further, notice how the horse has dropped his back and lacks impulsion. This is the immediate effect of sitting on the front of your pelvis. Your horse will drop their back and be unable to push from behind. You will lack impulsion and the ability to give clear aids from this position.

By correcting the body tightness and weakness you see an immediate improvement in the rider and horse:

Where to go from here

To start you must stretch the tight tissue and strengthen the weak tissue. I highly recommend beginning with yoga, particularly Yin Yoga. The long holds of 1-2 minutes not only properly release the muscles but also the connective tissue.

Next you need to identify your weak areas are strengthen them. Make sure to do 2 back exercises for every 1 pushing (push up for example) exercise.

I offer a fantastic 80 day program to my riding clients that helps to address postural imbalances and weakness. This program is an essential base to have for a balanced and strong position.

It is no longer acceptable to say “This is just how I am!”. The horse depends on us treating ourselves as the athletes we are. Postural imbalances in us can also lead to lameness issues in our horses.

For more information on the programs I offer to riders please feel free to fill out the form below:

Happy Wednesday friends!

Ashley