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Sitting the trot -- my back is not happy!

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  • Sitting the trot -- my back is not happy!

    I can sit the quieter trot, but we have been teaching my horse a more expressive, amplified trot with a more dynamic step. And my back doesn't like it.

    When his back is up and in a good spot, my back feels pretty fine. When he gets a little discombobulated and his trot is temporarily jarring, not so good. After a session of this new trot work, my back feels bothered sometimes for the rest of the day -- it's not horrible, but I can feel the difference.

    I don't have a great back to begin with, and I'm very selective about what I do in order to keep it comfortable and good. So far, so good in keeping it pain free, both in my regular life and my riding life.

    So, any suggestions about keeping my back comfortable during this learning curve? Cashel pad for the seat? Standing up? or just posting? I am considering using a chicken strap to just pull myself in deep, but am daunted by trying to use it and riding properly with connection during these training sessions.

    Any thoughts (productive ones, of course) most welcome!

  • #2
    Yoga and stretching. I also used to load up with NSAIDS ahead of time, but I've read that doing that is actually counterproductive. I doubt I could sit any trot at this point in time, unfortunately. The chicken strap would be great but I understand the potential loss of connection - can you work on riding one handed on occasion?
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    • #3
      Learn to ride him so his back stays up. Now isn't that a helpful comment?

      You could however stay in rising trot throughout your warm up and early lateral work, until his back does come up, and then go to your sitting work. Riding shoulder in and haunches in in rising trot makes life easier for them too.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


      • #4
        You have to strengthen your core muscles, because it will help your back (and your riding). I have a "bad" back, and it's gotten progressively worse until I thought I just couldn't sit the trot anymore, even cantering was a challenge. When even riding in 2-point got painful, I saw a doctor who gave me Celebrex, which gave me nausea.

        So I decided to try something else. I started with ashtanga yoga once a week (not all yoga is created equal), then added Pilates 1x or 2x a week, and it worked wonders.

        Now, if I don't do some sort of intense core exercise every single week, I can feel it in my back. For me, it's ALL about having a strong core.
        Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


        • #5
          Pilates will help your back, not only for riding, but for the rest of your life. Time to start strengthening that core! Yoga to stretch it all out. Perhaps you can look into your posture too. I sometimes catch myself riding with too much forward tilt to my pelvis and my back will ache afterwards.


          • #6
            The minute that you feel his trot get discombobulated POST. Then when you get him back together again, sit.
            "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


            • Original Poster

              Hmmmm... well, I'm not that good enough of a rider to keep the horse's back optimal every single step while he's going through this learning curve. His back is quite good most of the time, but while we amplify his step, he goes in/out of his back being up and 'soft.'

              His back is quite good in the working gaits and during warm up, where I switch back 'n' forth between sitting and rising. Sitting at this level of 'ummphh' is not uncomfortable.

              Sophie - Well, I think I might try what you're recommending, although I feel like my core is super strong. It feels like a rock -- even my personal-trainer sister is impressed -- when the muscles are engaged, but I have OK suppleness otherwise. I do 10-15min. stretching most days, esp. through hips, and use the foam roller lots, too. There is yet another peak of fitness to achieve, is what you're saying?


              • #8
                Originally posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
                The minute that you feel his trot get discombobulated POST. Then when you get him back together again, sit.
                This is what I suggest, too...and what I do with my mare who is also learning the ins and outs of true collection and extension. So, when things head south with her connection and I lose her back, I post a bit until I can get her back under herself. Then, sitting back down on her feels MUCH better. Some days, I look like a loon, I'm sure...back and forth from sitting to posting to sitting to posting. But...it makes her back happy AND mine too!


                • #9
                  Go read my posts in How to Halt?
                  And remember the waist is not a joint
                  And if it keeps up, your saddle is either too small or too deep
                  chaque pas est fait ensemble


                  • Original Poster

                    Oberon and E. Horseman - That is exactly what I'm thinking and relating to. So, I will go ahead and go to the posting. My trainer really encourages getting good stuff, then dialing down, regrouping, then going again.

                    PetStoreJunkie - not to worry! My waist isn't a hinge. It's more about a learning curve that, well, maybe you never have a bad step when you ride, but I certainly do during the 'curve,' and I just want to live to ride another day...


                    • #11
                      Have you tried riding in a thinline pad? I have back issues and am at the tail end of a battle with sciatica and the thineline and LOTS of stretching core strength workouts are what are helping. Good luck


                      • #12
                        Lots of good advice here. I'm in the same spot myself, as we work on a REAL working trot and move towards lengthenings and mediums. And I have a bad back.

                        My solution has been good chiropractic for myself, and regular core strengthening and yoga. I really can tell when I've slacked off as my back will hurt for several days. But once I go back to maintaining my exercises, it goes back to feeling good. Working with a good physical therapist helped me develop the right exercises for my particular problems.
                        Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


                        • #13
                          You definitely need core strength to sit the trot properly. Also, try more transitions to keep your horses back up consistently during your sessions. It's not good for them to be inverted and unbalanced... just as it is uncomfortable for us. Try your transitions without stirrups in order to ensure your body is in the correct position and you are not putting undo stress on your back to try and brace yourself against your horses bigger movement. You need to learn to not fight the movement, let go and absorb it thru your core. Good luck!!!


                          • #14
                            Are you lucky enough to have an instructor who is super picky about your seat?

                            If so, I'd be getting eyes on the ground to see if there's a problem there ASAP, because it's really hard to fix bad habits (duck butter attempting to reform here!). If I sit correctly my back doesn't bother me regardless of size of movement... UNLESS I am in a saddle which fits poorly. Too deep seat + thigh blocks in the wrong place forcing my legs back too far for my hip flexibility = an extremely sore back. The larger the movement of the horse the more you need to be able to move through your hip joints with the horse - getting your legs too straight and hips too open will limit that and force the movement into your back. In my case too wide a twist does the same thing, and as I just discovered temperatures below freezing will as well, so in those situations I post!
                            If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                              Learn to ride him so his back stays up. Now isn't that a helpful comment?

                              You could however stay in rising trot throughout your warm up and early lateral work, until his back does come up, and then go to your sitting work. Riding shoulder in and haunches in in rising trot makes life easier for them too.
                              Yes. This. If he "disconnects" go to rising trot, get him working through his back and into the bridle, then sit. I do all warmup rising trot (my horse has quite a bit of suspension). Then start some sitting trot work. If he hollows or stiffens, I briefly try to get him back with seat/legs/half-halts, but if that doesn't work, back to rising trot. (I'm 67, so while I have no major problems, my back doesn't love a hard/stiff backed trot, either. Actually, I find it's a pretty good "monitor": If I can't sit it/am uncomfortable, I probably don't have his back. If I can sit his trot (without noticeable shortening of stride, etc.), then all is good! LOL


                              • #16
                                I have no further suggestions really, but I'm guessing that when his trot disconnects that you also stiffen in response which compounds the problem. I have been there many times...
                                What I found great about pilates was not just improved core strength, but the development of my ability to separate body parts - engage core, do not lock back, hips or shoulders.
                                We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                                • Original Poster

                                  We rode yesterday...

                                  Tiny update! Between my cry of help to the COTH board and my next ride, I took time to work out tight lower back/ab muscles, which consistently have been the source of any body pain. This provided a ton of relief. Should have done this therapy sooner, as I could feel discomfort building over the past several weeks.

                                  Added the thinline pad, per EllenG's suggestion, and chicken strap to saddle. Thought hard about my plan and my priorities as we walked our first 5 minutes of the ride. Was ready with concept of going to post should my horse's trot get too large for both of us. Was pragmatic and unemotional about bailing out of the trot exercise if back pain reared its head.

                                  When we were warmed up and ready (he loves doing this exercise, of expanding his trot down the long side, then coming back, then going down the next long side with again. TBs!! ), off we went. And?

                                  He held his back fabulously up and swingy for many more steps than from the other days, my back didn't twinge, I had to post just a few times during the session when we were 'having too much fun,' and my face split in two from smiling in sheer euphoria. 24 hours later, my back feels fine. Did see the chiro last night, too.

                                  Am confident that the posting is the solution. His back is normally quite available, but suffers the normal learning curve response of going in and out of hiding, and it's these moments that were causing my pain. With the solution of posting, thin-lining, etc., I hope we're good to go... Thank you so much to everyone for weighing in with ideas and solutions and reading the OP.