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9 yr old rider back hurting - do we need a different saddle?

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  • 9 yr old rider back hurting - do we need a different saddle?

    My nine year old granddaughter's back hurts after riding. Usually the evening/day after. She has a 14" Devon Rex saddle. Since I ride gaited horses in a western saddle, I know nothing about english saddles or aches and pains connected with english riding/jumping.

    She has a lesson every week with a good trainer. She rides a smooth canter and absolutely loves her pony. She exercises during the week and is in good physical shape.

    Thank you for any input.

  • #2
    Maybe consider bringing it up at her annual physical as well, in case it is your daughter and not the saddle? I can't recall a child complaining of back pain. However, I do know my sister, who has mild scoliosis, had some back pain when bike riding as she approached her teens.
    Man plans. God laughs.

    Comment


    • #3
      At that young of an age have you ruled out the physical possibility she has scoliosis or a similar spinal issue? Does she sit really crooked that she is using her muscles unevenly? Honestly most kids are way resilient and can ride in the crappiest saddles, on the most pogo stick of a horse and be fine.

      Comment


      • #4
        At 9 years old a 14 inch saddle is probably too small for her, unless she is a tiny nine year old... and a Stubben Rex is really deep. You might consider switching to a bigger saddle. Probably a 15 or a 15 1/2, maybe even a 16. Talk to her trainer and see what she says.

        Other than the saddle it could be that she is not taking up shock in her leg, so that she is slapping the saddle with her seat, and her back is taking a beating, or her leg could be too far forward, or any number of other position faults could be causing this problem... she might also be arching her back too much.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by fourmares View Post
          At 9 years old a 14 inch saddle is probably too small for her, unless she is a tiny nine year old... and a Stubben Rex is really deep. You might consider switching to a bigger saddle. Probably a 15 or a 15 1/2, maybe even a 16. Talk to her trainer and see what she says.

          Other than the saddle it could be that she is not taking up shock in her leg, so that she is slapping the saddle with her seat, and her back is taking a beating, or her leg could be too far forward, or any number of other position faults could be causing this problem... she might also be arching her back too much.
          I was thinking the same thing--that most 9 year olds would have outgrown a 14" saddle. My daughter was tiny and back when -- her first saddle at age 10 was a 15"

          fold your thumb in and your four fingers should be able to fit behind her butt in the saddle. if not, it might be too small -although the advice is hard to give without seeing.
          Windswept Stables-Specializing in Ponies
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          • #6
            saddles

            I don't know about the smallness of the saddle. I'm an adult (a small one) but I can still cram myself into a 14" seat. What I would be concerned about is that she is riding crooked. The only times my back hurts when I ride is when I'm crooked.

            If she isn't very strong in her core that could be part of the problem too. I would watch her ride and see if she is leaning or in the center of the saddle. Watch around turns and over the fences etc. Even if you don't ride English you will be able to see if she is crooked. The idea position is for the rider to be in the middle of the horse at all times. I see a lot of pony kids way off to the side around turns, etc.

            If she looks straight and her back is still sore when you try a different saddle, she just might need some core strengthening exercises. If you have a kids work out facility (Velocity) or something else like that it might be good to take her there. They can evaluate and give you exercises to help her keep her core strong. Riding is a lot of core work.

            Comment


            • #7
              I taught a little girl of about 10 who would get sore during her lesson. Took a little while to figure out that she was really hollowing her back under her puffy coat. Perhaps your daughter is doing the same?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by fourmares View Post
                At 9 years old a 14 inch saddle is probably too small for her, unless she is a tiny nine year old... and a Stubben Rex is really deep. You might consider switching to a bigger saddle. Probably a 15 or a 15 1/2, maybe even a 16. Talk to her trainer and see what she says.

                Other than the saddle it could be that she is not taking up shock in her leg, so that she is slapping the saddle with her seat, and her back is taking a beating, or her leg could be too far forward, or any number of other position faults could be causing this problem... she might also be arching her back too much.
                This was my first, second and third thoughts.. heck maybe right up into four.

                One of LMEqT's friends who is nine is having back problems - she has a bulging disc, presumably from being encouraged to arch her lower back and then pull her shoulders back. When will people stop teaching people to do this?!! Combined w/her riding a 16.2h horse that needed to be pushed all the time, the poor child is a mess.
                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                ---
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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                • #9
                  Yeah... don't let that back arch get ingrained, if that's the issue. At only 25 I've lost an inch and a half of height from back damage due to arching the back and causing scoliosis; combined with two compressed disks and lordosis.The back pain is something I would definitely bring up at her next physical and NOT let a doctor get away with saying it's all in her head. I started complaining of the back pain around age 12 and doctors said I was too young to be in pain like that so it was dismissed. Does her back hurt/get sore at any other time? Do you notice arching of the back or sitting/standing crooked when she's out of the saddle? If she's ouchy enough to complain about it at this age then it's something that could get worse and become a permanent injury.
                  "Beware the hobby that eats."
                  Benjamin Franklin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fourmares View Post
                    At 9 years old a 14 inch saddle is probably too small for her, unless she is a tiny nine year old... and a Stubben Rex is really deep. You might consider switching to a bigger saddle. Probably a 15 or a 15 1/2, maybe even a 16. Talk to her trainer and see what she says.
                    DD just turned 8 yesterday, and outgrew her 14" last summer. I figure her 15" Pessoa will last a couple of years for her.
                    A proud friend of bar.ka.

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                    • #11
                      I was around 9/10 when I started experiencing pain caused by some physical issues I have (flat feet, scoliosis, lourdosis.) It took another couple of years to figure out what was going on, because things like "growing pains" or simply having a rough ride were thought of first-- and the pain really wasn't too bad.

                      It might be a good idea to talk to your family doctor and see if he/she thinks x-rays or a referral to a physio is a good idea. I ended up with orthotics, which help tremendously, and exercises to help strengthen my back.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        she either needs a bigger saddle, a different type of seat, or possibly has scoliosis. or she could be hollowing her back a lot. does she have poor posture outside of riding? this could be an issue. i find that occasionally i slump around more than usual, and then when i get on my horse, he's got a lot of suspension and power, and i get mild back pain.
                        (|--Sarah--|)

                        Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thank you so very much for all of your comments and suggestions.

                          The little girl mentioned is my granddaughter (not my daughter) who is at our place every weekend (both days) and all her school breaks so she can ride her pony. That's not particularly important except that I can't observe her as much or keep track of her activities (other than riding) as a way of figuring out this back pain situation.

                          She has good posture outside of riding. She doesn't slouch or arch her back when standing. I don't think she throws her shoulders back and arches her back when she rides but I'm not as consistently observant as I need to be -- plus it is difficult to see with the puffy vest. I have noticed her taking time during a lesson to round her back -- like she's stretching it out -- so maybe she does arch and then rounds to stretch. And I have also noticed her riding with her legs forward almost like a chair seat but not always. I think when the instructor (or I) remind her, the legs go back.

                          Her mom is a former Pilates Instructor (certified) and has helped her daughter with some exercises and my granddaughter does some of her exercises every day. I don't hear much about strengthening the core tho -- mainly stretching. I'll have to ask about that. I don't know the amount of time that's put into the exercises and hesitate to do much nagging since my granddaughter lives in two different houses (divorced parents) plus ours on the weekend. Neither of the parents are into horses.

                          Kashmere mentioned orthotics. My granddaugther's left foot drops at the ankle -- like there's little arch support. You don't see it so much when she walks but boy can you see it in her Ariats after she's worn them several months. I had mentioned this to her mother (my daughter) last year. The doctor suggested orthotics but my daughter said they cost $800 and I don't think they went any further on this. Would that cause back pain?

                          She has a ballet class on Wednesday evenings but doesn't complain about back pain afterward. She does say the seats are too hard in school.

                          I talked to her trainer today and we're going to borrow another student's 15" Bevel Close Contact saddle over the weekend.

                          My granddaughter didn't complain about back pain last summer when she was riding more often. Then, it was hip flexors. But then she was a little smaller and not jumping as much. She used to be 100% smooth in the canter. Now maybe 90% with some slapping the saddle. Does this ring a bell for anyone?

                          I'm baffled and frustrated and appreciate all your comments.

                          Thanks.
                          elaine

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Back again --
                            When checking out a tack review website, I learned that the Bevel saddles are considered to have hard seats. So, can anyone recommend a close contact saddle for youngster riding a pony? I've heard the Pessoa's are nice -- but only the older ones made in France.

                            Should I start another thread?

                            Thanks.
                            elaine

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My daughters had Bevals and Pessoas. The youngest one is still in a Pessoa.

                              I think that the old time Bevals were hard in the seat (like all of the saddles in that era). I didn't find the newer Bevals to be that way. The Pessoas are good. Seem to be fairly balanced etc.

                              It could be that your grand daughter's saddle is pushing her out of balance. If she is riding in a chair seat, it could be too small. My oldest rides like that when her legs have grown too much for the flap. By putting her knee where it should be, it shoots her seat to the back of the saddle and the chair seat.

                              Try a few different saddles if you can and see how she feels in them. Also, if the saddle itself is crooked that could be part of the problem too.

                              Make sure that her instructor is telling her the correct things to do. If she is balanced and her weight is in her heels and her core is strong, that should take the pressure off of her back.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by twhs View Post
                                Back again --
                                When checking out a tack review website, I learned that the Bevel saddles are considered to have hard seats. So, can anyone recommend a close contact saddle for youngster riding a pony? I've heard the Pessoa's are nice -- but only the older ones made in France.

                                Should I start another thread?

                                Thanks.
                                elaine
                                The Beval saddles I have ridden in had very comfy seats (BZ Natural and LTD), especially the BZ Natural.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  BAC & Hype -
                                  Thanks alot. You COTH guys are terrific.
                                  We're taking our granddaughter to the PA horse expo this weekend and will definitely look for Pessoa and Beval saddles.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I had a sore back at that age when I started jumping. It took a while to figure out but I was sitting down to soon over the jumps.

                                    I think I had landed a second before the pony's hind legs so I got a good shock when they landed.... pony likely had a sore back too only I think I weighed 40lbs so maybe not.

                                    Anyways this plagued me for weeks then one lesson with a substitute instructor who noticed the problem and I never had the pain in my back again.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thank you, Bumblebee. I'll definitely check this out!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Is your daughter sure that the stretches she's encouraging your grand daughter to do are intended for growing children?

                                        I had extreme pain at that age (and right up through my early teens) from riding, but it was all tendonitis in my ankles, no back pain. Ah what am I talking about, I still have that pain now!

                                        Definitely try some different saddles and see if there is another trainer around who could take a look. As BumbleBee said, sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will notice something completely overlooked.

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