Riding with scoliosis? Train the rider! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-09-2011, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Riding with scoliosis? Train the rider!

I'm sure a few of you probably remember when I posted a few months ago about a "collapsing hip" problem I was having - I'm dropping my left shoulder and putting all my weight into my right stirrup and twisting my body quite badly. Someone had asked if I had scoliosis.

Well, it turns out I do. I started seeing a new chiropractor because my back pain has become so extreme, and he took x-rays. I have a dangerously flat neck (no curve whatsoever) and scoliosis of the spine which has actually enlarged one hip bone from the crooked way I carry myself. I carry 21.8 pounds more pressure in my right foot then my left foot. I carry my head crooked and don't even realize it.

Does anyone else have this problem? And if so, what have you done to help your riding? Looking back at photos now, I realize I've ALWAYS had a twisted back - it's just never been so drastic as to majorly affect my riding. Now the pain is almost unbearable at times, I'm taking lessons and after a round of two point I'm ready to fall off, but I've been gritting my teeth and pushing through it.

This is the ENTIRE reason for Jynxy's left lead problems - my dear blessed horse doesn't have any problem, it's her gimpy rider! I've been seeing my chiropractor and taking lessons 1-2 times per week (and riding almost daily) and for the first time in MONTHS, we finally got the left lead with me sitting down. We've discovered she'll get it every time if I'm in two point - off her back and not making HER job impossible!

Any tips would be fantastic, I am really hoping the chiropractor will be helping but he's told me his concern is with my neck right now as the scoliosis could very well be an "unfixable" thing at this point if I've had it for god knows how long and just never noticed. He thinks my symptoms lately are just a worsening of my neck and lower back in combination. Also the lessons appear to be helping as I obviously finally cantered her for the first time in six months without having to ride like a jockey!

Here are some photos for anyone confused - I DID shorten my stirrup for awhile, but my aunt (my coach) is REALLY against that and made me fix them. These photos are of my stirrups completely even:

The spitting image of my back (this could literally be MY x-ray except it curves the opposites way (left shoulder drop):

Riding Western (2010):

Riding English (2010):

And even in this photo from 2008, you can see I'm dropping my shoulder:

Thanks guys, I hope you're as good at training riders as you are horses!

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #2 of 18 Old 01-09-2011, 04:54 PM
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I have similar problem (although not as bad), just not on side, but sitting straight (so I have to watch out constantly). Can't really advice anything, but I really feel for you...!
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post #3 of 18 Old 01-09-2011, 05:58 PM
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I'm slightly twisted. I have trouble advancing my left leg while keeping my right behind the girth. Still haven't found a fix for it. I collapse my right shoulder. I usually roll that shoulder a few times every once in awhile to try to encourage it to stay up. I'm not sure if that's working at all, but that's what I do. You're kinda fighting your own body, so there's not much that can be done other than find a saddle that's higher on one side to compensate for your collapsed side! Hmmm, business idea coming on.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #4 of 18 Old 01-09-2011, 08:22 PM
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It was I who suggested scoliosis (my son has it). It is not fixable, sadly. The best you can hope for is that it does not advance further.
It shouldn't slow you athletically, though it might cause back aches. Didn't the doc give you some ideas on excersizes to keep pain at bay?

As for being balanced in the saddle I have two thoughts on that.
If you are overall balanced , i.e. 50% of your body weight goes down the left side of the horse and 50% the right, then you won't fall off and your horse can maintain its' balance, too. It's kind of like Jenga; the blocks might stick out on one side, but they are balance ultimately by blocks that stick out on the other side, arent they? If not, the tower falls.
That doesn't change the fact that you may have more pressure going into one side of the saddle than the other and that could hurt the horse. For that, one can fashion custom padding to the saddle seat . Problem is, that might through the upper body off and since you cannot bend the spine back, you would not be able to recover your balance.
Is you spine just above the hip fairly mobile and straight? That's where you need to do you most frequent and dramatic movement to absorb the horse's motion.
I know it's not much consolation to you, but all riders, scoliosis or none, are crooked . I notice that one one side my pant leg always hikes up and I have more horse dander on the back of my boot. That's me gripping up or being crooked. Alway have been, probably always will be.

Just think of what our horses put up with!

You read Sally Swift's book? She had scoliosis and had to do a ton of body work, The Alexander Technique . Heard of it? Look up Peggy Cummings, too. She is some bigtime body worker around here (WA) and I just heard about her today. I know nothing so will look her up myself, too.
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post #5 of 18 Old 01-09-2011, 08:27 PM
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My friend has scoliosis and was in a full torso brace for a year and a half, so I know your pain!! Good luck finding a way around it to continue your riding. If it's bad enough, the doctor usually suggests surgery....has he mentioned it?
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post #6 of 18 Old 01-09-2011, 08:42 PM
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For all of you who say it isn't fixable you are wrong!

I learned I had severe scoliosis two years ago and it was so severe they predicted I would have, to put it frankly, died from to much pressure on my left lung, hip, and heart in about a year. Very terrible. I not only had one curve in my spine but two.I complained of back pain to my parents for 7 years and it eventually got to the point where I couldn't stand up for more then 10 minutes at a time.

Actually I can literally say that I was saved by a horse. I got a skin fungus that grew on the back of my head which resulted in hair loss which was caused by a me rubbing up against my lesson horse who had that fungus, which I didn't know he did. That made me go to a doctor and THAT doctor found my scoliosis. Wierd coincidence right

The doctor told me that I was to have surgery as soon as possible. Two months after finding out about my scoliosis I went through a surgery. The surgeons put two bars, countless screws, and a titanium cage into my back. I have a scar all the way from my neck to my tail bone. I also gained 11 lbs (of titanim) and 3 inches!

BUT I now can ride and ride enjoyably. I can ride straight(stick straight with those bars in my back) and catch all my leads. It took a year for me to heal and be able to ride again but it was one of the best things to happen to me because I am now pain free.

I would talk to a doctor about this surgery.

Kudos to whoever reads all this

" Horses are a humans wings."

Last edited by ShezaCharmer; 01-09-2011 at 08:45 PM.
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post #7 of 18 Old 01-09-2011, 09:03 PM
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Actually, riding is probably the thing that has kept me from having to get back surgery. I was diagnosed with scoliosis at a very young age, & I'm pretty sure the #1 reason that my dad put me into lessons (other than the fact I was 100% horse crazy) was to teach me to maintain excellent posture. I've had several doctors tell me that I'd be much worse off right now if my posture hadn't been so good.
Did you feel more comfortable when your one stirrup was shorter? I've ALWAYS felt more balanced with my right stirrup one hole shorter. It wasn't until I was in physical therapy over the summer recovering from a car accident that I learned my right leg was actually slightly shorter than my left leg, due mostly to my scoliosis. Yes, it may look odd to observers, but if it makes you more comfortable & doesn't put you off balance, I'd just continue riding that way.
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post #8 of 18 Old 01-09-2011, 11:32 PM
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Oh wow, I hope I don't have scoliosis too! I ride pretty centered, at least as far as not having to correct my saddle much, but I feel like my left leg is longer than my right. I usually ride with my right stirrup one hole shorter and I still sometimes loose that stirrup.

Hmm. I will have to look at some photos of myself to see if I have a noticable shoulder slouch. I do find myself sitting slouched in the car seat sometimes. Is there any other way to tell?
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post #9 of 18 Old 01-10-2011, 12:28 AM
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The trouble with spine problems such as scoliosis is not just what happens to you in the present, but how it will evolve later on during the decades.

I was advised to start therapeutic massage and exercises as soon as possible

My X-Ray would show the problem in the lower back area; I was also advised to stop all sorts of riding however considering I only ride occasionally i decided I won't.

The worst part is if those vertebrae catch and pinch a nerve between them; it has happened to me and ... boy, it does hurt. Not to mention the unwanted unstoppable weird lateral flexion I had, until the medics managed to get me back as straight as possible.

MM, buy one of those huge inflatable rubber balls and google for exercises on them. Except for the fact that they take a lot of space, they help a lot.

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post #10 of 18 Old 01-10-2011, 12:49 AM
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While I don't have scoliosis, my chiropractor discovered I was listing severely to the left. The base of my skull was almost two inches to the left of the base of my spine. This caused my head to tilt to the right, my shoulders to the left, and my hips to the right. I think I carried about 15 more lbs on the left than the right. So I certainly feel your pain about being such a ridiculously crooked rider. I hope you can find an answer. My only suggestion is to keep with the chiro appointments [I was going twice a week for three months and it only mostly fixed my back], and see a massage therapist. A side effect will surely be unevenly built muscle trying to compensate. I would also make a very conscious effort to maintain good posture ALL THE TIME. Good luck, hun.

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