Riding with scoliosis - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 10-21-2013, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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Riding with scoliosis

Any riders out there with scoliosis?

I have worsening scoliosis... From 35 degree to 47 in a few of years. I will probably have to get surgery, as I fully expect the curve to reach the 50 degree mark. It is a a very scary thought.

What are your experiences with scoliosis? Have you had surgery and how has it effected your life/riding? What was it like? Are there things I shouldn't be doing with horses if I have scoliosis?

I do have a double curve, so it kind of evens out and I'm not entirely unbalanced...I do tend to put more weight it in one stirrup than the other, but doesn't every one do that sometimes? I'm not really doing anything for the scoliosis right now...tried bracing for a year or two, but for personal reasons I couldn't continue as it was very detrimental to other aspects of my health. My doctor (spine specialist) says it is a wait and see kind of game now. What do you all think of this? What are your experiences?

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post #2 of 10 Old 10-21-2013, 06:59 PM
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Actually there is a book written by Sally Swift, who has scoliosis, called "Centered Riding", which when applied, helps the condition as well regular riders. My chiropractor told me I have it as well when he showed me the xrays. To me it didn't looked that bad but I don't know, never had a problem or anything.

I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #3 of 10 Old 10-22-2013, 01:26 AM
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I have no experience with scoliosis, so just keep that in mind.

Have you ever tried yoga? I've seen that do some pretty remarkable things for people. There's a video on youtube I watched a while ago of a man that was quite crippled who used yoga to regain his ability to not only walk without crutches, but to actually run again. I don't know if he made any other changes in his life, but the major thing being shared in that video was that he used yoga to return to a life of mobility.

Truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as self evident.
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post #4 of 10 Old 10-22-2013, 01:26 AM
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I have scoliosis, though I don't have to have surgery for it, I almost did, but the surgeon refused and I ended up trying many other things instead. I'm 18 now and the curve seems to have stopped progressing.

Like you I have a double curve, but my spine also twists as it goes down, and my pelvis is out of whack too.. One side is smaller than the other, and rotated forwards.

I do find that I get pain when riding in Kreiger saddles, or on short backed, choppy strided horses, but for the most part riding actually helps me keep my pain in check because I subconsciously protect the sore bits when I'm not on a horse, so I hunch over a bit, or I don't use certain muscles without realising, but as soon as I'm on a horse I use everything equally.

Personally I have had acupuncture, as well as massage therapy, and that seemed to help the muscles which is where my scoliosis is coming from, mostly. I did start those mostly for pain management at the time, but I found that with everything being loosened up I was able to function better and my curve has stopped getting worse, though I've probably stopped growing too which would have helped.

I can't speculate on what you can and can't do after surgery, though my brother has an 82 degree curve and has to have surgery (he's 15) so I'll gain more knowledge on it as time passes. But before surgery there's nothing I would tell you not to do. I showjump, I ride dressage, one of my horses bucks like a rodeo king, the other rears badly, I ride bareback, I jump bareback, and I fall off, I have been known to get on a horse wearing just a cover and gallop around the paddock with no control over when we stopped and where(before I realised that was stupid and dangerous). None of those have *so far* made my scoliosis worse, except when I broke my ribs falling off because of the shape of them.
But yet I can't carry a school bag because that causes a lot of pain, go figure

R.I.P ~ Bubbles - 25yo tb mare - 13.04.2011 ~ 8:30am ~ passed away naturally and peacefully in my arms
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post #5 of 10 Old 10-22-2013, 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by HollyBubbles View Post
But yet I can't carry a school bag because that causes a lot of pain, go figure
I can understand precisely where you're coming from. We seem to have some sort of ability to transcend any pain or suffering when we are experiencing real happiness. I have experienced this too, in the past. Something that should have been leaving me in a fit of suffering was completely subdued while I was in a moment of exhilaration. This kind of thing fascinates me.

Truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as self evident.
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post #6 of 10 Old 10-22-2013, 09:34 AM
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I had surgery when I was 14 (I am 43 now.) I was back on a horse the weekend after I got the cast sawed off (my parents would have killed me if they knew that!) It was not easy riding in a back brace. I am fine now and do not have any pain from it but it made me more nervous about falling off. I avoid jumping and galloping. I also can't move my back in that area (around my waist) so I have to work around that. Good luck to you!
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post #7 of 10 Old 10-22-2013, 11:22 AM
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regarding Scoliosis. A sensible cobby type horse will learn to carry you regardless of how uneven you sit in the saddle. You will probably never come top of a dressage competition but there is a lot to enjoy from the back of a horse without needing to sit bolt upright. Your problem is to find the sensible horse - nothing flashie.

It might be easier for you to ride Western - or even Australian. The big comfy armchair of a saddle with those leatherclad stirrup irons being fitted for the rider to use and on which to project your body weight.
Wear a broad elasticated belt around the lower back - it will give you some support and also some protection should you come off.

Back ache is a curse which comes on as one gets older - I rode until I was 72 and had to learn to cope with a bent spine and a badly placed pelvis for years. Recently I have discovered that I am now shorter than my brother , who used to be shorter than me.

What is important is that you keep up the exercising. Look for a local Pilates club - preferably one with a few men as members. Pilates is all about the centre core of muscles - the stomach, the lower back, balance. It is in no way competitive - you proceed at your own pace. Get a book but find a good instructor. Posture is everything.

The pain is not going to go away but a Paracetamol (or two) will help.
There is hope and you will get used to the discomfort.
Good luck
xxBarry Godden is offline  
post #8 of 10 Old 10-22-2013, 11:41 AM
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To Labrador from a fellow sufferer

Herewith an extract from a book which I once wrote:

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.
xxBarry Godden is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 10-22-2013, 12:33 PM
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On the topic of saddles. I purchased a treeless freeform endurance saddle earlier this year. Comparing it to the traditional western saddle I was used to, I could say this is the lazy boy of saddles.....well, it's comfy anyhow.

It does tend to require good balance, but I've also seen some western versions, which would have the same type of padded seat, but I've never ridden in one so I can't share what it's like.

Truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as self evident.
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post #10 of 10 Old 10-22-2013, 02:06 PM
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Here's a video with someone who's had many patients who have been in your situation. All of whom he's been able to help tremendously through the same things he's sharing in this video. There's a video reference in the about section of the video, the topic on scoliosis begins around four and a half minutes, and he has valuable tidbits of information up to about twenty-three minutes. Don't mind his off-topic banter if you can help it. Questions & Answers 199 - See Video Description - YouTube

In my experience I have also found that stiffness in joints, old injuries, random stiffness around the ribs and spine, broken bones, torn ligaments, scar tissue, many other things.....all have been remedied when one applies what he's teaching into their daily life.

Truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as self evident.
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