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mrs.smith
Nov. 15, 2007, 04:06 PM
I took Alice out this past weekend for a beautiful ride with a group from our barn. About halfway through the ride (Alice is a haflinger with pony gaits, ie, jackhammer trot), my back was killing me from the base of my neck to about my bra strap. I keep threatening to sell Alice for a gaited STB, but so far her sweet face and temperment keep me from putting her on the market. Plus, would riding a gaited horse really help with back pain anyway?

Orn1218
Nov. 15, 2007, 09:15 PM
I used to own a quarter horse mare that I rode on trails. She was very heavy on the forehand, somewhat choppy gaits, and overall a physical effort to ride. I could ache for a couple of days after riding her. I finally sold her and got an arab mare who is as smooth as silk. The difference is unbelievable. This mare is so light in the bridle, and it feels effortless to ride her. I am almost never sore after a long ride.

So while she isn't gaited, I am a firm believer that a smoothe horse makes all the difference in trail riding.

Huntertwo
Nov. 15, 2007, 09:23 PM
I've always heard they are good for people suffering from bad backs. I have a good back, but I would consider one for my next horse, plus I heard they have pretty ground covering strides.

winona
Nov. 15, 2007, 09:23 PM
Ya can't beat a gaited horse! Several of us gaited owners swear that going for a ride HELPS our back if its aching! I think you need to test drive some. Some have nodding walks (TWH) and could hurt a back I believe. Paso Fino....no movement there.

rideapaso
Nov. 15, 2007, 09:54 PM
How your back feels depends on the individual horse. I get a lot of back pain if I ride a TWH -- the big rolling gait just kills me. On the other hand, I can ride my Paso Fino all day long with no problem. I also have no back pain with my Arabian mare -- she has a very nice smooth trot. So gaited may not be the answer or it might be. Best thing is to try out different horses and see what fits. :confused:

MassageLady
Nov. 15, 2007, 10:34 PM
How do you ride her trot? Sitting or posting? My arab had a huge trot-I had to post, or 2point on her, but she was a great trail horse! I rode a friends gaited horse, and it was alright...personally I enjoy posting or sitting the trot. I feel it's 'really riding'. If I wanted to glide along, I'd drive a cadillac on the trails.:lol:

pAin't_Misbehavin'
Nov. 15, 2007, 11:38 PM
Where I live, gaited horses are the mount of choice for the over-fifty set. I'm paying attention, since I'm rapidly approaching the half-century mark myself. They all say the gaited horses are easier on one's back.

Hmph. Looks damned uncomfortable to me. They all ride with their feet braced forward, hair flying straight back like a windsock in a gale. Horse's hips going like Carmen Miranda. Think I'll keep my paint horse and my draft cross.

But if you really decide to sell that haffie, let me know.:D

rideapaso
Nov. 16, 2007, 01:37 AM
How do you ride her trot? Sitting or posting? My arab had a huge trot-I had to post, or 2point on her, but she was a great trail horse! I rode a friends gaited horse, and it was alright...personally I enjoy posting or sitting the trot. I feel it's 'really riding'. If I wanted to glide along, I'd drive a cadillac on the trails.:lol:


I can sit to her slow trot and post or stand up for her faster trot. She doesn't have a huge, extended trot. The Paso Fino is the cadillac!

chicamuxen1
Nov. 16, 2007, 07:11 AM
IMO your upper body posture has the greatest influence on you degree of back pain. And your stirrup and leg position greatly influences your upper body posture. I've injured both my upper spine and lower spine and have found that the most comfortable position (also backed up by the chiropractors) is to have a nice erect posute with a slight hollow in the lower back. Slouching, rounding over with the shoulders or lower back will aggrevate damaged discs, pinch on nervers or just plain make your back muscles ache from increase work.

Now, when riding a gaited horse, You can just sit so easily upright, because you aren't having to post. Same with riding western as long as you aren't posting or 2-pointing, your upper body can be very upright. Of course your feet may be way out ahead of you.

Most saddles are constructed with the stirrups hung too far forward to get your legs under you with shoulder, hip and heel aligned. Endurance riders have figured this out and most saddles consturucted for serious endurance riding have the stirrup hangers moved further back so that the riders can post more vertically and keep their upper body upright. This is the reason that typical english saddles really aren't ideal for endurance riding, the stirrip bars are too far forward, yes, even the dressage saddles. The bars are part of the front metal arch of the tree and besides causing the rider to have to tip forward to 2-point they concentrate the riders weight onto the front of the saddle.

The BM Sport Saddle, endurance model, has the stirrup hangers much firther back. The Sensation and Freeform treeless saddles have moveable stirrup hangers and many of the treeless saddles can be customized when they are being built for you. The saddles that are based on a "western" type tree can also have the stirrups hung further back but the correct tree must be used.

If your upper back aches you are probably rounding your upper body and leaning forward. If your lower back hurts you are probably rounding your lower back and/or leaning forward. But most of us "think" we're straight. Have another person watch you while you trot around an arena, posting. Are your legs truly under you and your posture upright??

I tip forward from old habits after years of riding hunt seat. I'm much better since switching to treeless saddles but I find that when riding for miles on rocky/technical trails that I start hunching over because I spend so much time focusing on the trail surface in front of my horses ears! I was at the Equine Affaire Expo last week and participated in a Becky Hart seminar based on Centered riding. a big bunch of us got in the arena with her and did some dismounted exercises. One was hard eyes/soft eyes. I over concentrate my focus on those trails and really tighten my upper body. No wonder I get sore across my shoulders. I'd love to find an instructor to work with that used similar techniques.

chicamuxen

jeano
Nov. 16, 2007, 09:15 AM
I think it depends on your back and the gait of the gaited horse, not very helpful, maybe, but would suggest you ride a few. I have TWH with a big trot that when collected or extended is pretty comfortable. The running walk is way comfortable but it might make you a little seasick....My other horse is a racking mare and even after a year and a half since I first rode her I laugh in delight every single time she racks--something about the gait seems to connect directly to the pleasure center of my brain. I also get tickled when she "wicky wacks" a much frowned upon mixed gait. She can trot but seldom does under saddle. When she does, its pretty smooth. I think the way gaited horses are put together and "wired" just makes them a smoother ride no matter which gait they are using. They are not necessarily "easier" to ride, though, which is where people who cant be bothered with learning how to post mess up--they transfer sloppy non gaited riding to the gaited horse and its still sloppy. The feet forward chair seat thing is partly from the saddleseat show tradition. You do need to sit heavy and back a bit to elicit some of the racking gaits--when exaggerated that seat is as silly and counterproductive as the ass in the air "hunt" seat you see sometimes.

tabula rashah
Nov. 16, 2007, 09:16 AM
I have a TWH and non-gaited horses as well. I also broke my back in two places about 4 years ago. I actually seem to do better on the trotting horses than the TWH- although the sit and glide is definetly fun!!

mrs.smith
Nov. 16, 2007, 09:32 AM
I might be tensing up and leaning forward. I never thought about it. Our last ride I had to make Alice ride last as she just wasn't in the mood to trail ride and kept threatening another horse. I may have reverted to the "defensive hunch" that you see most riders do when they feel their horse is about to do something.

I ride her in a big horn haflinger western saddle, and do post the trot. I have to, as her pony trot would knock the fillings out of your teeth if you try to sit it. :eek: I did ride a Paso my mom had last year. He was so hot you had to blind fold him to get on, but once you were mounted, he was all business. And very smooth, too.

I was wondering why you see so may TW riders (well, the ones I see on RFD TV, LOL) ride leaning back with their feet pushed forward. I would think that would put them behind the motion and would be hard on their horses' backs.

sublimequine
Nov. 16, 2007, 09:45 AM
I used to own a quarter horse mare that I rode on trails. She was very heavy on the forehand, somewhat choppy gaits, and overall a physical effort to ride. I could ache for a couple of days after riding her. I finally sold her and got an arab mare who is as smooth as silk. The difference is unbelievable. This mare is so light in the bridle, and it feels effortless to ride her. I am almost never sore after a long ride.

So while she isn't gaited, I am a firm believer that a smoothe horse makes all the difference in trail riding.

That's funny, because it's my mom's Arab's really springy and animated trot that can make me a little sore. But my QH's smooth, flat-kneed jog keeps me comfortable.

I guess it depends on what feels better as a rider, and how the horse goes. :yes:

Auventera Two
Nov. 16, 2007, 09:56 AM
My Arab, POA, and QH are as different as night and day. The POA and the Arab are both a dream to ride. The QH...eh, not so much. Though she is much more comfortable than some I've ridden. I don't personally care for the movement of gaited horses for riding. I just like posting and I love a good, solid, true canter. Everytime I've cantered on a gaited horse it felt disunited and awkward. I don't like the surfing feeling of a gaited horse, but that's just me. :) But I could see where the gaited horse would be so much easier on your back and joints!

Tiempo
Nov. 16, 2007, 09:56 AM
In my case yes,yes and YES.

I am a farrier (with resulting back) with a slight scoliosis, and arthritis in 4 vertibrae, both sacro-illiac joints and both hips.

Not only is riding my Paso Fino easier on my joints than riding my other horses, it actually seems to help a lot, somewhat with my back, but a LOT with my hips.

When they start to feel particularly cranky, an hour or so on the trails at a good clip on Tiempo can bring days of relief.

Cashela
Nov. 16, 2007, 10:01 AM
Oh my goodness, I love my gaited horses and I can't even imagine going back to a non gaited breed. I'm 32 and discovered gaited horses 4 years ago. I can actually get off after a several hour ride and move my arm where as before when I rode a trotting horse my right arm (injured in a fall many moons ago when I was a kid) would be dead and so sore, I wouldn't be able to lift it.

I ride Missouri Fox Trotters.

I will say this though, gaited horses are individuals and while they may perform the signature gait of their breed it may be uncomfortable to you. The best way to find that out is to ride different horses. I've ridden two MFT's that killed my back, not while riding but I was sore afterwards, they had to much action in their movements. Had I ridden those horses first I never would have bought a MFT. Now I have two.

x-rab
Nov. 16, 2007, 10:04 AM
You can get a smooth gaited horse in just about any breed. I have written ponies and horses that are just put together right and it is like riding silk. My husband has a TB that when his brain works has some of the smoothest gaits I have ever ridden. I am including some Walkers and SB in that list. Not all running walks are bouncy and not all drafts are heavy on the front end. Just keep trying and you will find one that suits you.

Prieta
Nov. 16, 2007, 10:10 AM
Yeah, I find myself having to lean back with feet forward to get my Spotted Saddle rack. I do not like this but it is the only way I can do it with her.

However, her walk is not comfortable to ride on. My Arab is so smooth at walk but her trot needs some working. I think that once she gets into better shape, she'd trot more smoothly.

I am really thinking about getting this book, The Rider's Pain-Free Back by James Warson, MD - it directly addresses the issue I have now...I have bad back but I want to go endurance. In the book, it details on how we ought to ride, what we need to do, and what exercises will be good for us.

Like what the other says, ride the horse at all gaits and get the one that is the most comfortable at all gaits. Good luck :)

monicabee
Nov. 16, 2007, 10:49 AM
I have a TB I adore.

However, I cheated on him once.

I rode a friend's Peruvian Paso. It was amazing. Crossing deep footing that would have my horse, Willy, lurching this way and that, I felt nothing. With one foot on the ground at all times, theirstability is greatly increased. And the gaiting... well, you just have to try it.

Granted she was a high quality Peruvian with well-developed gaits - so it does make a difference what horse, not just what breed.

I had fantasies of adding to my stable. If I was crossing the mountains, spending all day in the saddle, hopping on and off my horse all the time, I am sorry, but Willy would be staying in the barn and I would ride Esperanza!

When my life depended on a quick getaway or covering a lot of miles, then Willy would get the nod.

I have read of a woman who foxhunts her Peruvian because she has back issues and that is the only way she can stay in the sport!

nmazteca
Nov. 16, 2007, 11:02 AM
I love to trail ride, and take dressage lessons. I had a wonderful Hanoverian mare, but her strides were too big, and couldn't ride without pain.

My trainer suggested an Azteca. (Andalusian/QH cross) He is sensitive, sensible, and very smooth to ride, but not gaited. I've gone out on long rides with no back soreness, plus equitation/dressage lessons and feel better than ever in the past 9 years of riding. He is a wonderful, willing partner.
An Andalusian would do just as well, but the Azteca's are more affordable.

I also bought a thinline pad, the very thin one recommended for rider's with bad backs. That helps too.

Good luck in finding a smooth horse.

Tiki
Nov. 16, 2007, 11:22 AM
I've ridden Missouri Foxtrotters and TWH's. The Missouri Foxtrotter was only for a couple of hours - when they go into the flat footed running walk/shuffle it seems like you've only been on them for a couple of minutes instead of a couple of hours.

The TWH's were on a pack trip in the Rocky Mountains. All day on the horse and you never even got sore.

I also rode gaited horses in Inner Mongolia. 25 or so miles a day, loooonnnngggg days in the saddle and they were incredible. One day my horse went lame and they gave me another one - who wasn't gaited. I have never had such a miserable ride in my life. The gaited horses can go in that smooth running walk for hours on end, while the non-gaited horses have to go back and forth from a trot to a canter to keep up. Even with smooth gaits, going on one diagonal and then the other, or being thrown back and forth on the diagonal gait of a canter gets very, very tiring very, very quickly. On the gaited horses you can just sit up and shift your hips a bit with the gait and it is as smooooooooottttttthhhhhhhh as silk. For a train horse, there's no comparison.

Cashela
Nov. 16, 2007, 11:24 AM
I just like posting and I love a good, solid, true canter. Everytime I've cantered on a gaited horse it felt disunited and awkward. I don't like the surfing feeling of a gaited horse, but that's just me. :) But I could see where the gaited horse would be so much easier on your back and joints!

Oh my goodness then you haven't cantered a nice gaited horse. My mare Kit has a canter to die for. I would be in heaven if I could canter her all day long. I love it. :yes: Cricket, well she just turned 5 and we haven't worked on her canter really yet. At first she was very heavy on the front end and I felt like we were going to plow into the ground but now she is learning and it is smoothing out, etc.

jazzrider
Nov. 16, 2007, 11:26 AM
I just recently starting riding a gaited breed (TWH), who does the flat and running walk (and can trot and canter nicely too!). My other riding horse is a QH, and before him my riding horse was my now retired OTTB. My husband has an American Spotted Saddle Horse, who racks. I think by far the smoothest horse at the trot speed and the walk is my hubby's racking horse (but his canter is hideous :eek:). My husband has a long back and is prone to problems -- he's never had any issues with riding his boy.

I don't have back issues, but my TWH's running walk is smooth as silk. The rest of his gaits are, well, just very different. I agree that you can have a smooth moving horse in any breed. My QH's pokey trot is super smooth, but his canter is jarring. My OTTB had a canter so smooth and gracely it could make you cry. Riding my TWH has really taught me to relax and "unlock" my back to move with him. I never realized how stiff my lower back was (even with training in dressage) until I started riding a gaited breed.

Tiempo
Nov. 16, 2007, 12:33 PM
Oh my goodness then you haven't cantered a nice gaited horse. My mare Kit has a canter to die for. I would be in heaven if I could canter her all day long. I love it. :yes: Cricket, well she just turned 5 and we haven't worked on her canter really yet. At first she was very heavy on the front end and I felt like we were going to plow into the ground but now she is learning and it is smoothing out, etc.


Ditto, my Paso's canter is just dreamy.

mrs.smith
Nov. 16, 2007, 04:34 PM
Tiempo, what's the difference between the Peruvian Paso and the.....the......the OTHER Paso? :lol:
My mom's Paso is hot, hot hot and I'm not sure I want to go there. Yes, my dear creaky old mom has more balls when it comes to horses than me. She's lives in FL, but even if she lived here we still couldn't trail ride together. Alice would be poking along and a chesnut flash would go by, leaving us both wondering what the heck it was. My mom's little boy can GAIT.

I'll have to check into the book recommended on this thread. I have scoliosis and mild sciatica, and just plain aches and pains from lifting my toddler all day. Maybe I can find some relief.

2Horse
Nov. 16, 2007, 06:31 PM
I didn't read everyone's post, but YES a gaited horse is much easier on your back. My mother who hasn't ridden in like 30 years and has back problems bought a Ky Mountain Horse. I trail ride her horse and I can definately tell a difference!

Guilherme
Nov. 16, 2007, 06:40 PM
The short answer is "Yes."

But it does depend upon the specific horse in question.

G.

winona
Nov. 16, 2007, 09:41 PM
Just to clarify some things....

1) A rider should sit on a gaited horse just like any other....no leaning back, etc. Balance is the key just like any other horse sport.

2) Anyone considering a gaited horse should seek one out that has been bred for its intended purpose. If you want a trail horse look for one bred for trail and trained for trail. Not to say a show horse couldn't become a trail horse, but it will take some retraining in most cases.

Gaited is much easier on the body. We regularly ride 5-6 hours for several days in a row and not sore the next day! It is wonderful! My horse does the gaits a paso fino should, but also has a smooth trot and delightful canter. It is good to break up the gaits some to prevent muscle fatigue.

katarine
Nov. 18, 2007, 08:09 AM
What Winona and everyone else said :)

I have two QHs and two TWHs. Now I LOVE my QHs, but for all day trail riding, a gaited horse is the way to go.

As for cantering- my young SSH/TWH has a dreamy-sweet canter, naturally. My SO's TWH has a great fast canter, but doesn't have the balance yet for a nice slow one, that'll come.

Try the horse extensively- this gaited deal is pretty interesting but not all running walk's are created equal ;)

as for bracing with the feet- not me- I just sit soft and deep and let my legs relax and hang naturally.

Arrow
Nov. 18, 2007, 08:13 AM
Good for your back, bad for your social life. If you don't know anyone else with a gaited horse, and you prefer riding with people rather than alone, you could have problems. I ride alone 80% of the time, and my favorite partner doesn't mind jogging a lot, in fact she quite likes it. But riding with anyone else at my barn who has a horse that pokes along is torture. My Spotted Saddle Horse is only about 14.2, and he walks everyone off their feet no matter what their size. He doesn't even do a running walk, just the wonderful flat walk. When I try to keep him from doing what comes naturally, he gets very frustrated. I don't even have to cue the flat walk, that's his chosen speed. No horse at barn can match it without jogging. BUT I really prefer riding alone, so it's not a huge deal, and my best bud likes to jog. Think long and hard about how you ride and who you ride with, then make a decision. As for me--I love my boy, I've never had a better horse, but I bought him totally by accident. Being gaited didn't factor into it--I just loved his personality and his spirit. I'm not sure that I'll buy a gaited horse again, unless I have friends with gaited horses.

RackOn
Nov. 18, 2007, 10:21 AM
I had trotting horses, tried a gaited horse and went back to a trotting horse.

NOT ALL GAITED HORSES ARE SMOOTH!!!! I think the main point is that gaited horses are just horses; some smooth, some have a good canter, some are heavy in the bridle, some are light. The gaited horse marketing hype tries to convince people that gaited horses are the only way to go for trail riders but a smooth trotting/cantering QH makes a great trail mount. And not all QH's walk slow. I have a QH that outwalks my husband's TWH.

I'm 50 years old and was very glad to get back to trotting and posting. More excercise consequently better for the back.

My husband's SSH has trouble gaiting through many rocky muddy areas whereas my arab sails through. It seems like the trotting horses pick up their feet better and can handle more varied terrain.

It is important to chose riding partners with horses similarly matched in speed, and my arab and my husbands TWH ride together perfectly - he gaites and I trot and canter. A fast gaited horse may not ride great with a pokey morgan but neither will a pokey QH ride great with a faster QH.

Also a saddle that does not put you in a good position will cause back pain and your horse may be hurried and heavy on the forehand because your posting is behind the trot. Generally western saddles do not put you in a good posting position. After trying MANY saddles I finally found an endurance saddle that is correctly centered and riding is fun again.

sissyfoo
Nov. 18, 2007, 11:01 AM
I agree that it depends on any horse's specific breeding and training and that some (like us) are just better at certain paces. I did have a TWH long long ago (also by accident because he was just a fantastic little guy) and I do have to admit that he was MUCH easier on my poor back than my young TB (Working trot needs...well...work).

My sister was also able to ride him comfortably and she has degeneration of the disks in her spine as well.

I would suggest trying out the gaited breeds and see if you enjoy the feel. I will probably go back to one when my girl retires.

Arrow
Nov. 18, 2007, 12:55 PM
I had trotting horses, tried a gaited horse and went back to a trotting horse.

NOT ALL GAITED HORSES ARE SMOOTH!!!! I think the main point is that gaited horses are just horses; some smooth, some have a good canter, some are heavy in the bridle, some are light. The gaited horse marketing hype tries to convince people that gaited horses are the only way to go for trail riders but a smooth trotting/cantering QH makes a great trail mount. And not all QH's walk slow. I have a QH that outwalks my husband's TWH.

I'm 50 years old and was very glad to get back to trotting and posting. More excercise consequently better for the back.

My husband's SSH has trouble gaiting through many rocky muddy areas whereas my arab sails through. It seems like the trotting horses pick up their feet better and can handle more varied terrain.
.

And of course, this is individual, too. My SSH doesn't rack through anything, but he'll walk over, through, or around anything. I've never had such a trail horse in my life--he's fearless and as sure footed as a goat. But, he can't rack through what a QH or Arab could trot through--the gait doesn't work that way.

I know that we've had posters who are gaited Endurance riders. Arrow wouldn't work out for that--I really do believe that you need a trot, and he doesn't have one. From all that I've read, the rack is the one gait that they can't do for all that long--it's tougher on them than a foxtrot or whatever. But as for CTRs, his flat walk is just about up to CTR trotting speed, and he can handle that. I did a novice CTR with him last summer, and he did a flat walk to the vet check for 7 miles in less than an hour and a half. No trotting, no racking, we were in the lead with others starting one minutes, two minutes back, etc. etc. etc., and no one caught us.

And like your TWH/QH combo--I have the same deal with my riding partner. She and her grade horse are happy to jog along to Arrow's flat walk. But no one else at the barn can match it or is happy trying.

I also missing trotting and posting. I'm pretty sure that Arrow will be my one and only gaited horse. I bought him because I just fell in love with him--I decided not to hold being gaited against him. And I've never in my life had a more spirited, willing, and athletic trail horse. He goes like a dream on trails--wouldn't trade him for the Tevis winner.

Gaited gal
Nov. 19, 2007, 09:50 AM
I have had my paso fino for 1.5 years. I have scoliosis and sciatica. I live in Ontario and we don't have a huge selection of gaited horses for sale (not like some areas of the US - so I looked at Rockies and Paso Finos. As others have said there is a huge difference in how they move. I found the pasos to be more comfortable but I am basing this on the horses that were available for sale when I was looking. I am able to trail ride for 6 hours and not be sore at all. I never could have done this one my trotting horse. My paso is hot and sensitive but she has been trained as a pleasure horse so she an awesome trail horse but sometimes does outwalk the bigger horses (she is 13.2) many people think all pasos are like the show pasos that they see but she is far from it, its all in the training. She can gait as fast as a slow canter. She is just learning to canter but it is very smooth. I ride her bitless and she is very light in the bridle and super responsive.

The best thing you can do is test ride a bunch a gaited horses and see what you think. See how your back feels.

yellow-horse
Nov. 21, 2007, 06:21 AM
my husband has a twh, she's very smooth and easy to ride, her canter is like a rocking horse as well, i've been riding her more often lately as my horse has a stride of a gerbil, my husbands horse can cover ground and you don't feel it, just glide along
my old grade horse had a great trot, very easy to ride, however her canter was a disaster, i did many miles riding her at a sitting trot and no worse for wear, she was an arab something cross, we thought perhaps stb
i think my next horse will be a twh

spookhorse
Nov. 21, 2007, 11:13 AM
I've got two TWHs, each very different :)

Belle is 14hh, unregistered, and built like a Morgan (has been mistaken for one :lol:)

When she's fit she has a dog walk, flat walk, running walk, rack, trot, foxtrot, rocking horse canter. This little gal is so much fun to ride it brings a smile to my face :yes: I can ride her all day and no back problems which flair up when I rode a Thoroughbred.

Buddy is 16+hh, registered out of Big Lick stock (grandson of The Pusher C.G.), ex show-horse I've been rehabbing/re-training, built tall/long/lanky/narrow, no mistaking him for anything but a TWH!

When I got him it was pacepacepace as I took him barefoot from being a padded horse. With work, we've finally got flat walk, running walk/stepping pace, pace, cross canter with the occasional real canter :D Okay, so he was never taught to canter under saddle until I recently started trying it. He was a little harder on me, but honestly, he was so hard mouthed and pacey when I got him that it was my shoulders and abs that took the brunt of it. Lots of wet saddle towel time! I took him to a gymkana in October and spent nearly all day on his back at various speeds and my back and body was fine. He was is a special case, but it's what you might get if you buy a former show horse!