Have you ever had your riding instructor or an especially honest equestrian friend tell you that you ride crookedly? You’re not alone. Many riders tend to put more weight on one side while sitting in the saddle. This is often referred to as being “collapsed at the hip,” and it isn’t pretty or particularly helpful for your horse.
Researchers in Great Britain decided to look into whether asymmetrical posture in riders could be helped through physiotherapy intervention. Previous studies have looked at how asymmetry affects human athletes in other sports, but there haven’t been many scientific studies to examine how rider imbalance affects horses. In some studies on non-equestrian athletes, a physiotherapy intervention has been shown to help reduce asymmetry.
Using a group of experienced riders, the researchers recorded their seated postural stability by measuring the symmetry (or lack thereof) of force distribution as they sat in a saddle. The riders were divided into two groups, and one of the group was treated with a physiotherapy intervention for the pelvic area. Physiotherapy may consist of specific exercises, soft tissue manipulation (such as massage), stretching or other treatments. All of the riders from both groups were then retested.
The group that received the physiotherapy intervention showed significant improvement in symmetry, suggesting that the treatment was effective. However, the study did not measure whether the effect was temporary or long-term. For riders who struggle with a crooked posture in the saddle, physiotherapy could be one method to help improve their seat, thereby improving communication with their horse.
Nevison, Charlotte M.; Timmis, Matthew A. The effect of physiotherapy intervention to the pelvic region of experienced riders on seated postural stability and the symmetry of pressure distribution to the saddle: A preliminary study. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 1 July 2013 (volume 8 issue 4 Pages 261-264 DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.01.005)