Asymmetry of horse, saddle and rider was the theme of this latest very well attended unique CPD event held at the CWA and Lordsbridge Arena in Barton, Cambridge, UK. Attendees were predominantly equine physical therapists, with several saddle fitters and riding coaches. A very special half day lecture was given by Dr Sue Dyson on aspects of asymmetry of horse and rider. Worryingly, many of the horses typically presenting to Dr Dyson displaying obvious signs of asymmetry have been found to also be displaying clinical signs of lameness. The take home message was thus that it was very important to assess and monitor horses and their riders for signs of asymmetry so that clinical treatments, saddle fitting or ridden instruction can achieve long term resolution of equitation and horse welfare issues.
The impressive Lordsbridge Arena in Barton, now revamped by the new management team, hosted the practical element of the session and ensured that we had everything we needed for the session to run smoothly. They really couldn't have done enough for us.
Caroline Lindsay with Tasmin Long and Mario, Sarah Wynn and Twilight, Linda with Bally, demonstrated how disturbing aspects of asymmetry in the rider can be, when those horses alternated between ridden with the riders sympathetically in balance then switching to crookedness, a bad contact, uneven stirrups and landing heavily in the saddle. The horses were visibly unimpressed and began to employ avoidance tactics towards their riders due to the discomfort that they found highly challenging to endure. We concluded that targeting the horses for bodywork treatment to resolve asymmetry without checking for asymmetry of the rider and saddle is unlikely to resolve equitation issues in every case.
Next an evaluation of the rider for crookedness took place with riders on saddle stands and they were tested for stability using a variety of simple techniques that equine paraprofessionals could employ to evaluate rider stability and balance in a riding position. Having them find their neutral pelvis position as advocated by Maria Hallring, ErgoX2 top innovative saddle designer from Sweden, demonstrated how much more powerfully they could engage their abdominal muscles to increase stability in the ridden position. Being able to maintain a still position on the horse means that the horse would have less rider interference from the resultant imbalance and the ethics of riding could thus more readily be improved.
Caroline then demonstrated a system for working horses over a variety of ground pole configurations, both on the lunge and ridden, to supple them and 'bend them straight'. She explained that without bending, there can be no symmetry or straight movement on the basis that a) equalising the power produced from the hind limbs during striding was required and b) normal, optimal range of motion through all joints of the body was required to facilitate straightness.
Horse saddle rider practitioner, Michelle Lyall, ended the day with even more superhints about the importance of resolution of asymmetry and what to look for in terms of rider and saddle functional harmony.
This highly informative session showed over and over again that we simply must all consider the entire horse-saddle-rider combination whenever we become professionally involved with them.
A similar event focusing on horse, saddle and rider assessment will be held in September and October in Edinburgh and in Belfast. Contact Caroline Lindsay for more information. ... See more
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