Herewith an extract from a book which I once wrote:
BACK SADDLE & PELVIS
Round 4 was planned to be different. Ithad been agreed that The Lady K would concentrate on Joe whilst Kay the Physio would manipulate Barry. From time to time the quartet would get together and the two ladies would compare results. Joe started off the session at a disadvantage in that it had been found previously that Barry’s pelvic distortion would provide him with an excuse for not sitting properly. In such circumstances it was beholden for Joe to make the adjustments to carry his structurally deformed rider without loss of equilibrium After all that had always been Joe’s role. As it turned out, things went Joe’s way from the beginning of the session.
A saddle is the interface between rider and horse. So long as it fits both horse and rider then it has done its job, but if it does not fit well, then either the rider or the horse has to make adjustments. It was evident that the new Ideal saddle bought just 6 months ago had developed a wrinkle where a wrinkle did not ought to be. Seemingly the cut of the saddle interfered with Joe’s shoulder action and something had to give, hence the wrinkle. Neither did the saddle sit down on Joe’s back as it should have done. Joe immediately was one up. It looked as though he was entitled to a new saddle that fitted properly or at least a thicker numbnah to close the gap.
It so happened that the saddle did not fit Barry’s butt either. In the matter of equilibrium both horse and the rider must be equally balanced and if Barry was tipped forwards by the angle of the saddle then neither of the duo could ever hope to be in balance. A new saddle appeared to be mandatory and luckily the bread winner of the household was not in attendance to have her say. Eventually the “old” saddle was taken off and a borrowed Pathfinder saddle was brought into use. In the process of changing saddles, Joe had his back inspected. All this cost was money.
Joe’s right shoulder was visually less developed than his left shoulder. The muscles running down his back were also unequal in development - hence the little wiggle in his walk. Maybe both of these inequalities came with the now healed over saddle sores. But what about the little channel which ran neatly from one side of his bum to the other? It seemed that as a result of this minor deformity the flow of blood to the muscles would have been restricted and therefore the development of the muscles leading to the bum may have been inhibited. “Every action has a reaction”, said Isaac. As a sop, The Lady K gave the Boy a massage with the view to displacing the subcutaneous fat and thereby allowing the blood to flow freely again. Initially Joe stood there patiently but eventually a silly grin developed on his face and he started to rock gently backwards and forwards. It was not just the undoubted pleasure from the massage, it was because Joe knew that now he also had an exeat, an excused boots, just like the Old Man. With a bad back, poorly fitting saddle and a heavy rider - my, even if he walked at all, he was being a good boy and earning his keep.
Meantime, Barry after a brief sitting up on Joe, had been ushered off to the temporary torture chamber rigged up in Celia’s sitting room. At first the commands were innocuous enough : “leg up“, “leg down” , “lean this way“, “lean that way”, then eventually: “take your clothes off and lie down on your back!“. The Lady Kay then produced a long strap which she passed around Barry’s stripped off naked left thigh and returned it back around her clothed right thigh. She then pulled the strap tight thereby bringing both thighs together. Then she took hold of the knee in a wrestling grip normally seen on TV. One wonders whether this procedure was, under some ancient law, confined to the privacy of one’s own house. But then came the wrenching - three times in all, and on each occasion there was the innocent question of “how’s that feel?” The errant pelvis had thus been reset. What was one supposed to say? One had put oneself into the hands of this knowledgeable lady and she had used her strong hands with undeniable impact. Then came the request from her for one or two very simple movements, which amazingly proved to be difficult to complete. Apparently the clients of physios must learn humility. But that’s what happens when over a period of years one’s body deforms by natural process as a result of either disuse or misuse.
It was undeniably true, that if Joe was to carry at speed, and in equilibrium, 100 kilos of rider over uneven ground, then the rider’s weight must be distributed evenly across the horse’s back. The big difficulty for the rider was to maintain equal weight distribution whilst the horse was moving. To be fair, The Lady Kay was doing her best to make this movement possible by the rider. But it was wise that she did not inform her clients up front what was coming as the treatment.
It was then time to return to the arena, where Joe was by now tacked up with his borrowed saddle. Barry nursing a bruised pelvis, then rode around the arena to the close inspection of a small group of horsey ladies. Part of the performance was to ride out of the yard and down the drive towards the lane and beyond. On the third trip, Joe started to show signs of bolshieness, as was his way. He was on a “go-slow”. However after turning back towards the stables, he suddenly burst into a very active walk ie: all movement and absolutely no hesitation. It was a delight to sit. But I doubt if it had anything to do with the actions of his rider. I think it was more to do with the little devil feeling that it was time he went back to his field. He was a cob this boy. He’d been round the block at the trekking centre. He knew humans. He was kind but crafty with it. He’d got his own sense of right and wrong. He had undeniably got his owner sussed. If we did accept that Joe’s damaged back was giving him gype and if his saddle did not fit as well as it might, then Joe justifiably deserved consideration and the alleviation of his pain. Nevertheless the question did arise as to how much discomfort this broad backed, strong creature really did suffer. He had a high pain threshold. He could well be kidding. If Joe decided for whatever reason, that he did not want to do something, then often he would not do it and any rider would have his hands full getting him to do what he had been asked to do. The question must remain on each occasion of serious disobedience as to exactly why he decided to be difficult. Was it discomfort or cussedness? What was apparent however is that so far he had not tried to disobey the Lady K.
As to my own skeletal problems well it seemed that I must take the pain on the basis: “no pain : no gain“. If to ride always induces pain, then this path must be followed in the hope that the aches would go away. This series of lessons was all a big game with the long term future in mind. Joe was taking is part in the proceedings. I could not help but wonder sometimes if his rider would be able to fully play his part.
Just two days later there was a cry from soul:.
“To whomever is now wearing my old body: Please could I have it back in exchange for the new straighter one I am now wearing. This panel beaten body aches and rattles where the old one never ever ached”
Three days later it was painfully obvious that all was not well with the new pelvis. The muscle running across the top of the thigh went into severe pain mode, to the extent that BG had to turn back from what had been a very short trip out to Tabernacle Lane. If resetting the pelvis brings about this level of pain was it interfering with nature to try to reset it at all? The pelvis might not be working efficiently but at least it was working well enough to allow BG to ride. BG with the old body could ride Joe even if there would be a modest price to pay later on in the day. BG could still plan to go to Spain for trail riding in October. The problem in trying to strike a balance was complicated by a lack of knowledge. The real mistake BG made was to allow the manipulation without understanding the ramifications. Barry G