Do you put unneccessary stress onto the horse you are riding?

Treating the horse alone is not the answer.

048 horse‘Is this a true reflection of how you have been sitting then?’ my Instructor, Becky Chapman, asked ominously. ‘Yes, I think so’ I replied, slightly concerned but not really surprised.

I was on the horse riding simulator at Ashen Equestrian Centre. It’s a very sophisticated plastic horse that will tell you, based on a number of sensors, whether you sit to the right, left, too forward or too back (amongst other things).

I’ve had a number of lessons on ‘Strider’ the plastic horse, and have never had such an obvious deviation from the ideal balance point. I was sitting with a lot of weight to my left even whilst stationary, and motion magnified the problem. My right shoulder felt like it wanted be up near my ear and no matter how I tried to correct it, I couldn’t. It was at that point that I admitted to myself that the ‘just get on with it’ attitude wasn’t going to do me (or any horse I ride) any good long term. I came away from my lesson feeling a little deflated, wondering how I was going to get myself fixed. Money was tight and the ‘back man’ that I had seen in the past was retired.

I had heard about a man, Nic Aldous, from a few friends who had highly recommended him. After finding out I could have a free consultation I decided I had nothing to lose. I booked an appointment and went to see Nic, wondering if he really was the ‘real solution to back pain’. Admittedly my main problem was my shoulder, but I also had pain in my lower back occasionally, my left ankle was extremely sore after riding and I had a tendency to weight my right leg and roll on the outside of my left foot when walking.

My first (free) consultation was a bit of a whirlwind of information. Nic asked me to do a few simple exercises that quickly demonstrated stiffness in certain areas of my spine and torso. He also explained what was happening, and why and how he could fix it using a combination of Theraflex and Cranio-Sacral therapy. I was very happy with his explanations and booked myself in for my first ‘proper’ appointment.

The first appointment was a combination of Theraflex and Cranio-Sacral work on my shoulders and pelvis. My general posture was reviewed at the start and end of the session, and much to my delight I looked taller and slimmer with a flatter stomach – and a more natural curve to my back. I left feeling very optimistic. The treatment was not painful, and seemed to yield instant results. From that first session my shoulder pain disappeared. I went home with an idea of how to stand correctly and a couple of exercises to do.

As Nic had pointed out, tissue memory would prevent any permanent change this early on in the treatment so I wasn’t surprised when 24 hours later I felt a bit crooked. My next session was a week later and Nic once again used the Theraflex, followed by Cranio-Sacral therapy. The results lasted about 4 days – a step in the right direction!

The next session was the last one of my weekly sessions, and Nic worked on my pelvis a fair amount. The Cranio-Sacral therapy is so gentle but makes quite profound changes. In particular my left foot tended to fall inward when I lay down, in contrast to my right foot which pointed outward. After some cranio-sacral work, both feet were much better.

My next session, it had been around 6 weeks since I last saw Nic. Although I had a few stiff areas (noticeable more to Nic than me) I had felt great for that time. A stark contrast to starting the day crying in the kitchen unsure how to get through the day with a 3 and 1 year old to look after, with a very painful shoulder. I was very happy that I was well on the way to being ‘fixed’ and had one more thing to do. Get back on the riding simulator.

Before the lesson began, I explained to my instructor that I had recently been having treatments from Nic, and that I was interested in how that may have affected my position on the horse. She turned the screens off so I couldn’t see what was happening, and effectively did a ‘blind run’ in walk to see how my posture had changed, if at all. I can confirm Nic has done his job extremely well, and my posture was absolutely bang on central. I no longer sit to the left, and in turn my shoulders are now level too. I am very happy with the treatment from Nic, given that I can categorically prove that my weight distribution when sitting on a horse has been changed by treatments from Nic alone. I had not ridden for the duration of the treatment from Nic, nor had I had any other form of treatments and the only postural exercises/stretches I had done were ones specified by Nic.

I’m pain free, I know that when I ride I am not putting undue strain on any horse that I ride, I’m not putting undue strain on my joints in my body and I feel taller, look slimmer and walk with a skip in my step. Brilliant result, I’m very happy.

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Graph 1 : Look at the third line down (seat). The ‘average’ line is up above the central (midpoint) line – indicating weighting to the left. Date 10th June 2011 (prior to seeing Nic)

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