||Specialisms | Side-saddle
by Lindsay Smith
Side-saddle for Disabled Riders
On occasions, I am told by riders or
their helpers, that 'Suzie Wong' - or her male counterpart - used to ride
before she had an accident, or she would love to ride but finds the 'normal'
way to ride is impossible. When I put to them there is another way, sometimes
they immediately want to have a go, or it may take some persuasion - or
their physiotherapist may wish to meet and discuss. Their attitudes may
range from keen enthusiasm to suspicious scepticism in need of gentle,
persuasion - to an open mind, of course!
The questions which need answering:-
||is the disability a lifelong problem
or resulting from an accident?
||did the individual ride at any
||has the individual ever ridden
side-saddle, and if so, what sort of experience have they had?
||type of disability
|| extent of problem, concentrated
to one part of the body, and, importantly, which part of the body
|| is riding and/or the method of
riding liable to cause adverse effect on the rider's physical
and/or mental well-being.
CONSULT AND WORK WITH THE RIDER'S MEDICAL ADVISER AND PHYSIOTHERAPIST.
The rider's abilities has to be taken into careful consideration at
all times, and whilst all riding instructors SHOULD have a good working
knowledge of human and equine bodies, a regrettable number do not, to
the detriment of able bodied riders, meaning much damage may be done
This raises further questions:-
|| how conversant is the relevant
physio with riding and different methods, modes and benefits of
riding - with and without saddles?
||does he/she have access to or knowledge
of current riding practices for RDA and related riders?
||how sympathetic is the physio to
horses and riding side-saddle - some are very antifundamental
aspects of riding aside at least, so they know how to assist 'their'
rider's body sympathetically and towards the correct (and safest)
Many riders - of a variety of disabilities, nervous
and/or physical - find side-saddles are very confidence building, and
a large number of such riders who are unable to ride astride unassisted
are able to ride independently, some being able to partake in activities
on an equal footing with able riders.
I know of several riders with sight impediments who find riding side-saddle
is greatly more agreeable over riding on astride saddles. Again, it
is the additional security offered by this form of saddle. Several hunt
and jump - show jumping and cross-country - in fact, Martin Ross (the
other half of the famous Somerville and Ross partnership) hunted in
Ireland regularly, any type of horse - often ones scorned by fully sighted
riders - across varied and difficult terrain, several days a week -
WITHOUT A PILOT - with many of her friends and the field having no idea
she was partially sighted. Yes, she took some bad falls, but no worse
than sighted riders. She knew her country.
Nowadays, it is possible to have a receiver concealed on the person,
with a commentary from a sighted rider, who indicates obstacles and
field boundaries or other hazards - jumpable or live! .
Other aids for able and disable bodied riders:
mechanical horses - these are available,
and are designed primarily to benefit able-bodied riders in their
positions before working with a live horse. They also mean that unlike
a 'real' horse, it would not perform any unexpected move.
safer horses - a schoolmaster.
sit the rider on a side-saddle when
positioned on a firm saddle-horse to check the fit and to ascertain
if the rider is able to sit in a different position from that he or
she is used to.
- An indoor school is useful. A well fenced manege
is the minimum requirement. Safety at all times is important.
the side the injury is
work with physios
the type and size of the saddle,
the position of the fixed head and leaping head. Have plenty of fibre-gee
for a make-shift queen. (Padding to go round the fixed head to 're-align'
the position to aid the rider's right hip position.)
Obviously, and indoor school is useful,
and I feel a well-fenced manege is the minimum requirement. Safety
at all times.
With much care and attention to detail, disabled riders and their medical
assistants and specialists, are finding side-saddle riding beneficial
to them. Side-saddle give much more support and security to a rider,
meaning those who may find riding astride difficult and are unstable
in the saddle, are able to ride more independently aside, giving confidence
and a sense of achievement to the individual.