View Full Version : Back in the saddle again (ouch!)
1st Jul 1999, 12:35 PM
I started learning to ride for the first time last year at the grand old age of 44, but had to give it up after six months because I had constant pain in the back of my legs that was made worse by riding. I never knew whether it was the riding that caused it in the first place because I also used to run and do a lot of walking both of which also were also painful. I gave the running up as well for a while. I had my first riding lesson for a year last week and it really wonderful to be riding again, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went to a different riding school this time and the instruction was much better as my instructor actually explained what effect my actions were having on the horse and why. The rising trot was always a huge effort before and the front of my thighs would get so tired I would have to stop and have a rest. My new instructor said that I was putting my feet too far forward and rising too high and that I should let the horse do the work as going with his movement would initiate the rise so I shouldn't need to put all that effort into it and I should also tilt the pelvis forward slightly on the rise. What a transformation when I concentrated on what she had suggested, I felt as if I could go on trotting for ever! I was dreading the sitting trot but when we came to do that I tried to remember Heather's advice and although I wasn't perfect I felt much more stable in the saddle that ever before. My instructor was quite impressed. Next week we will go on to the canter. I'll be interested to see how we get on as I was trying to learn the canter since my seventh lesson at the other place without progressing much, probably because the instructors kept changing.
The only downside to the lesson was the saddle which felt as if it was digging into me on the walk as soon as I sat on it. After the lesson it was very painful to sit down for the rest of the day and even walking I could feel the affected areas twinging. Nearly a week later I still have tender areas and after my usual run I had pain in the back of my legs again. I'm worried that it is the riding that has caused this and that if it gets worse I will have to give up again. Does anybody else have this problem and any useful suggestions? I think Heather's seat saver has to be the first step (Heather, may I email you privately for details?), but any other suggestions would be very welcome.
1st Jul 1999, 03:18 PM
I am no expert on the matter but I have been running quite alot (on and off) for the past 15 years (only took up riding this year) and my gut feeling is that it is the running that is causing most of your problems
(apart from the uncomfortable saddle, of course).
I, too, have had more or less constant pains and several minor injuries caused by running, but when I took up riding and running at the same time after the birth of my daughter, I blamed riding for much of the discomfort (because, let's admit it, in the beginning it DOES make you sore...).
However, I talked to a few people about it, one of whom was a sports instructor, and they said that, if done correctly, riding seldom causes injuries (provided you stay ON the horse...) or pains. Running, however, is particularly hazardous; I know a few marathon runners who have come to accept pains and aches as part of the package.
Check your running shoes and alter your routes (I can only run on a even and firm surface myself) and warm up & stretch PROPERLY before and after each run (the same goes for riding). Although running helps improve cardio-respiratory and muscular endurance, in terms of flexibility there's little benefit. Virtually all runners develop tight muscles, especially in the backs of their legs because the muscles go through a small range of movement repeatedly.
I don't think you need to give up riding, but pay even more attention to the running by increasing the range (slow / fast / uphill / downhill) and doing LOADS of flexibility exercises. And don't forget to stretch after riding, either...
I run less and ride more and feel better by the day!
[This message has been edited by Marlena (edited 01 July 1999).]
1st Jul 1999, 03:26 PM
Well done for going back to riding. it sounds like you now have a super teacher, isn't it amazing what a difference a good teacher makes!
I am sorry to hear about your sore legs, i can't help with that at all I'm afraid, but Marlena has given you some good tips. it might be worth chatting to your riding teacher about it next time as it could be due to your position on the horse (or lots of other things). If that doesn't help, perhaps see a physio or sports trainer to see if they can help.
Good luck and do let us know how you get on. enjoy your cantering next week.
1st Jul 1999, 08:19 PM
Hello Everyone .... :-)
Just a reply to Kathy C ...
Hi Kathy ... I'm an older rider and just love it when I read about yet one more recruit ... I wish you lots of luck ... and happy riding!
About the pain you described ... it might just be a natural bit of wear and tear (you mentioned running) and using muscles again that you haven't excercised for a while ... as you get older it just takes that bit longer to adjust, as I'm sure you already know ... (I fell off my horse about 13 weeks ago jumping over a cross-pole, and my ribs on the left-hand side took the full impact of the ground pole! Did that hurt! Even now I still feel a twinge after riding, but I kept exercising and riding after a couple of weeks, nothing too strenuous at first, just a gradual building up of strength again, and now I'm fine!
As to the delicate subject of sitting-trot discomfort ... :-) I had this problem also when I first started, but then tried a pair of Equi-briefs from one of the riding catalogues ... they are anything but glamorous, but they have a padded gusset which really does prevent soreness, or you can buy dressage briefs which are double-gussetted, and are a little more feminine-looking! You'll have seen them in your horsey shops I'm sure. This problem does lesson the longer you ride however, and I rarely bother with the padded briefs now ... incidentally there are similar ones for men, which I tried to persuade my husband to try before we went on holiday a week ago,(he's just started to take lessons) but he didn't, and now fervently wishes he had!!! Typical! .... :-)
Anyway, hope that helps .....
1st Jul 1999, 08:46 PM
One of my Seatbone Saver sadle pads would undoubtedly help you. I invented it a few years ago for my own use following damage to my seatbones. It is made from a foam developed for use in astronauts seats by NASA, covered in suede, and fits almost any saddles, bar Western ( we are just working on a Western design by popular request when I was in the States a couple of weeks ago!). The foam moulds to your shape, and does not spring back, so that it absorbs some of the horse's movement, and makes you feel much more secure in the saddle, also helping you to achieve a better position. I am just off to Holland to teach tomorrow, and will be putting one in my suitcase, as I can't ride without one these days, or my seatbone damage returns in no time. The pads, which fit on top of the saddle, by means of two adjustable straps that go under the saddle flaps, are priced £44.95, from me here at East Leigh Farm, Harberton, Totnes, Devon. TQ9 7SS.
4th Jul 1999, 03:37 AM
I've just added a page to make the ordering of Heather's seatbone saver easier. As well as some pictures to give you a better idea what it looks like there is a page you can print out, fill in, and send to Heather to order one.
6th Jul 1999, 01:29 PM
Thanks everybody for your advice and encouragement. Marlena, I think you may be right about the running being the main problem. I did eventually see a physiotherapist about my leg pain and she said I had very tight hamstrings and suggesed stretching excercises which I do (but not as often as I should do!). I also swim and this tends to relieve the leg pains. As for the seat tenderness, I think Sarah may be correct regarding riding position. We didn't start on the canter as planned but decided to do a couple of lunge lessons to get the rising trot perfected. I have a lot of bad habits to unlearn and keep slipping back into my old ways of putting the feet too far forward, tipping the body back, and using a lot of effort to rise too high. I wish I had gone to this school first, then I would have learned to do it properly in the first place. We also spent some time doing the sitting trot without stirrups and reins. My instructor told me to place the back of one hand on the small of the back and to push forward when the horse's back rose to encourage the spine to absorb the movement while the other arm dangled free by the side of the body. She said having the hand behind the back would also relax the shoulders and keep the upper body upright. I must say it seemed pretty effective. I always used to dread the sitting trot without stirrups at the other place because it invariably meant bouncing painfully up and down trying desparately hard not to fall off. This time it felt unbeleivably comfortable and stable in comparison. We spent a lot of time getting the seat properly postioned in both the rising and the sitting trot and I am pleased to say that I suffered no pain in the legs or seat after the lesson so I must have been doing things right at last! Now I suppose it's just a case of practising until it becomes second nature.
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