Sitting Trot and Lower Back - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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Sitting Trot and Lower Back

I've noticed after my last two lessons I've had a tight/sore lower back for a few days. I have a pretty crappy lower back anyway and doesn't take much for me to twinge it, but I think the culprit might be sitting trot. I don't do a whole lot of sitting trot but it's the only thing different in my lessons that could be causing this. Anyone else out there have problems with their lower backs and sitting trot? Is there anything I should be aware of when I'm riding that can reduce this (like sitting deeper into the saddle?)? I know I need to strengthen my lower back in general, so I'll be doing additional exercises.

If it's not the sitting trot, the other thing I'm thinking of is my lesson horse - he's an absolute chow hound. There are huge hay bales at one end of the arena and he tries like hell to get at them when we pass them during our warmup walk. He also does this to grass and random wheelbarrows outside when we're walking to/from the stables/paddock. I have to brace a lot and pull him away pretty hard to keep him moving, so that could be the culprit as well.

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post #2 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 10:04 AM
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A sitting trot can do that. I suspect if you (or I) had enough flexibility in the lower back, it wouldn't. But my lower back was never flexible, and a riding accident a few years back made it worse on my right side. I can do a sitting trot for a few minutes, but if I do it a lot then I will pay the price afterward.

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post #3 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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That sucks. Having a weaker lower back really isn't fun! I've twinged it doing the stupidest things...doesn't put me out or anything, but I just hate the feeling of not being completely mobile - especially when I'm teaching puppy classes where I spend so much time on the floor.

I'll talk to my coach about it and see if she can recommend something that will help my back based on looking at me and my form when I'm in sitting trot.

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post #4 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 02:54 PM
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Back ache is the scourge of all horse riders.
You might think to have your back examined by a sports physiotherapist - you might have some distortion in your spine - or you might have pulled a muscle.

As a result of previous injury or a poor seating position you may not be sitting level either front to rear or side to side. - Get someone to video you going round in circles - both ways.

You need to strengthen your back muscles around the central core. Go find a Pilates instructor and explain your pain and your need for a strong lower back for horse riding.

Posture is everything in horse riding - you should aim to sit upright at all times - but maintaining the correct posture will take effort - so you need to build muscle in the corrrect place.

If you have pain now the chances are it will without corrective treatment get worse.
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post #5 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 04:19 PM
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So sorry about your back, I know all too well how it feels! I have PsA which started in my lower spine and SI joints. They started deteriorating and the sitting trot would put me in bed for days. I've since been on meds that have helped, but the sitting trot will still aggravate it. Have you seen a chiro to make sure there's nothing going on in your back?

There are gel seat pads you can put on your saddle for your own back, as well as gel saddle pads can help the impact as well. Strengthening your back as well as your stomach muscles to support your back can help greatly. When it's sore ice and heat alternating can help with soreness too.
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 04:29 PM
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This is why cross training is so important, especially for those of us with desk jobs. The problem is not actually weak back, but a weak abdominal core.
Pilates, yoga (power type yoga, not hatha), strength training, etc.. are all going to help your core and your riding. I have a bad back from riding and what keeps the pain at bay is being at the gym a few times a week, going to hot yoga twice a week and doing at least a little strength/core training every day.

Good luck!
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post #7 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys! I haven't seen any specialists about my back because I know it's muscular, so I just don't bother. Plus I could have a severed arm and still not want to see a doctor about it. I'm one of "those" types.

I do agree that cross-training is so important, and I do a lot of it - a good mix of running and strength training. Maybe I need to re-jig some of my routines to strengthen my core/back. In the fall/winter/spring I do hot yoga on Wednesday nights. I'll likely start that back up in October when it's a bit cooler.

Will try to get some video.
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 04:35 AM
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Meatos, sitting trot calls for complete relaxation of the muslces around your crutch. If there is any tension in those muscles - the the anticipation of pain for example - you will not acheive that level of relaxation. You'll bounce.

You need to ask yourself why you want to use sitting trot. You need to consider whether the horse wants you to do sitting trot. If your horse has a pony's action then perhaps it is best to avoid it.

But what also seems likely is that you need an accomplished instructor to review the way you sit on the horse. Maybe you have to modify your 'seat'. If you were not taught to 'sit' properly from the beginning then perhaps the problem lies there in.

A horse goes from stand to walk, from walk to trot; to canter; to gallop. Sitting trot is useful for work in the arena on a flat surface at a slow trot pace - it is virtually a jog. The upward thrust of the horse's movement must be absorbed by the rider's seating position.

Perhaps it might be an idea for you to find a friend who can readily ride in sitting trot on her horse and then see if you can manage to sit it out on her horse - equally for your friend to ride your horse to see if she can sit your horse in sitting trot.

There are some horse with a conformation and action which makes their trot uncomfortable - so it is best to let the westerners have them - they rarely use the trot.

Trot was developed to allow a body of horsemen - usually military - to ride over hard surfaces in formation say 3 ,4 or more horsemen abreast. Then later in modern times the dressage riders incorporated it into their discipline - do you need it?
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Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 09-06-2012 at 04:40 AM.
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post #9 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 06:07 AM Thread Starter
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What's my crutch? Do you mean my core? I'm very much a beginner (maybe 15 hours in the saddle), and only now am I finally able to commit to weekly lessons, so I know I'm still a bit tense. I don't feel any pain when I'm doing the sitting trot (so therefore I'm not thinking about it), the stiffness usually sets in on the long car ride home. Perhaps I need to stretch before and after my ride - would that help, in addition to relaxing and doing other cross-training exercises?

So far I've only been sitting the trot in my transitions and I'm still getting the hang of my diagonals. I don't do it for extended periods of time, so at this point, I don't know how much I need it or what my instructor has in store for me down the road. The horse I ride is pretty awesome, and I don't think he's the problem - it's all me! My instructor is amazing (very well accomplished) and she is always reminding me to relax in order to smooth out my transitions, but I haven't mentioned the stiffness to her yet. I will at our next lesson on Saturday.

And like I said, it's not full-blown pain I'm feeling. Just muscular stiffness/tenderness that restricts my mobility for a day or two afterwards. So I'm not worried about it per se, but I do want to correct it so that I don't have any problems down the road.

Maybe this is a good excuse to start getting massages.
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post #10 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 06:38 AM
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Meatos, I had not realised that you are a novice rider - it is important for you to point that out when asking for advice on the forum.

From what you say about your instructor then she is the best person to advise you because she can see you on the horse. And as you say the horse is probably a school master.

Your aches and pains, providing you are sitting correctly, are most likely to be to do with your body settling in to a new but strenuous exercise - it certainly is not surprising if you ache after a lesson of say an hour or so.

Your crutch - in English English is your fork - the bit you sit astride on the saddle. It is what keeps you on the back of the horse and when you are more adept the bit thru which the instructions you give to the horse pass.

In the olden days, when I was a young man - before the civil war - we used to do physical exercises on horse back. Nowadays there is Pilates - a group of exercises which work on the central core of muscles - those around what we know as the stomach and lower back, included are stretching exercises and balancing exercises. You'll ache after performing the exercises for at least two days - but it is good for you.

In passing, if you have faith in your instructor - ask her for advice - if she is any good she will explain in far more detail than can be expected over the internet.

Enjoy your new hobby - it is worth it - but allow for years to learn how to ride well.
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