If you want to be as kind to your body and horse as possible I recommend body work until your spine and muscles are used to being in alignment. Straightness is imperative for both horse and rider but we can’t feel our crookedness after a while as it becomes normal to us.
Chiropractic and Massage are my favourite for both horse and rider for restoring straightness. These modalities are especially important if you always find yourself sitting on one side of the saddle or your horse can only pick up one lead reliably. If you can’t afford these options due to time or money I recommend chiropractic and consistent yoga and riding. If you’ve done all of the above and still need help, then contact me for a lesson (once covid allows me to teach again!)
Common rider positional errors and yoga poses that can help:
The obvious potential causes are poor posture and resultant tight muscles through the front of chest and shoulders. The goal is to open the chest (and the heart chakra) by pushing chest forward and bringing shoulders back.
My favourite yoga poses to accomplish this are: camel, cobra and puppy pose.
Side note: rounded shoulders can also be caused (from personal experience) by tight low back and hips which leads into my next point…
Sounds simple but so many muscles are involved in the hip joint, and so many different ways we can be tight. I’ll cover the most common ones for riders but I recommend experimenting with your own range of motion and finding which positions are the most comfortable and which are the least. Work on the ones that are difficult (with kindness!).
- For tight inner thighs./groin: frog pose
- For tight hip flexor and/or outer hip: mermaid pose
- For tight hamstrings: forward fold (try using table top if you’re especially tight) and downward dog (try one leg downward dog to compare right and left side). Keep chest and bum pushed out so as to maintain arch in the back and not put pressure on disks in lumbar spine
- Downward dog also helps to stretch calves which is helpful for riders who can’t put their heels down
Self explanatory! Boat pose and Plank
This is a very short list but powerful nonetheless. I recommend (not a doctor) doing yoga DAILY and once already warmed up- after a hot shower or after riding/walk/barn chores.