The Horse Forum banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
Joined
·
2,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know a LOT has changed for me since I started riding again, just over five years ago, after my 15 year hiatus.

Some positives:
About three years in, I actually developed CORE STRENGTH for the first time in my entire life, and finally found out what the fuss was all about!
Way better posture
More symmetry in my strength and movements
Much greater flexibility in areas where I have always been stiff
Better balance
Better awareness and reaction time doing other tasks, like driving

Some negatives:
My left knee is now crunchy. Not painful, but definitely crunches when I come up from a squat. This started last summer after I tweaked my knee real good while, apparently, trying to fix my leg position ALL AT ONCE during a ride. Oops. Took a couple weeks off riding after that, and wore a knee brace for a bit, and it recovered well but... crunch.
Occasional back pain and spasms if I really overdo the riding and then follow it up with long periods of sitting, like driving or flying on long trips (not that that's a thing these days, yikes).
Pretty constant muscle pains as my body recovers from whatever new torture I've devised for it in recent rides. Though it's that GOOD post-workout kind of pain. But still pain.

And on the NEUTRAL front, man... Has anyone else really BEEFED OUT from riding?? I've gained about 20 pounds in the last few years but very little of that is pure squish. I've gotten thick in my legs and butt, but man, if I flex, you could bounce quarters off of there. Do wish some of my favourite clothes still fit though!! :lol: How do all those stick-thin pro riders not look totally jacked??

How about you?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,559 Posts
I haven't been riding long enough to get any long-term wear and tear. I do find that even now I'm still often sore in my inner thighs after a particularly demanding ride on Pony. And that's WITH the saddle -- without the saddle I find myself walking bow-legged for a couple of days.

Definitely my core is stronger. I LOVE that. And yes I have also noticed that my posture is better. And I finally have a butt, almost.

As a neutral -- I have muscles in weird places. You really do need some specific muscles to ride, and those muscles don't seem to do a lot of other stuff. Also my right forearm is disproportionate to the left, I think from picking hooves with only one hand. It's only going to get worse as I transition into doing hoof care. I'm trying to use both hands when I trim and rasp, but it's hard.
 
  • Like
Reactions: karens1039

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Steadyon, Have you looked at the Tucker Ergo stirrups that are sold on Horsesaddleshop.com? I have read a lot about them as the reviews tell that the angle of the stirrup reduces ankle and knee strain a lot. I ordered a pair, and they have not come in yet as it has been a few days.
I cannot wait to try them and see if they make as big of a difference as the customers say they do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,559 Posts
Oh, and it's made my hiking better. I do a lot of hiking on slopes that have a lot of scree, and since I've been riding I find I slip a LOT less, and when I do slip I recover within a few inches. I think it's a combination of better balance and improved core strength. Definitely I feel my core "kicking in" when I slip. It's pretty cool to feel that. I guess I had really neglected my core before this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,484 Posts
I'm the opposite. I'd been riding for years, sometimes doing twelve hours in the saddle over weekends and one or two hours a day during the week. Over the past five years I'd to cut down to the occasional ride, gradually reducing until I had to give-up completely. I haven't ridden for a year or so and I really feel the difference.

Riding gave me great core strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and posture, although yoga and fitness required for my job also helped. However, before i stopped riding my knees were crunching and aching, I'd sharp and aching pains in my right hip and my Achilles tendons were sore, which I blame on years of being told to keep my heels down.

It also helped to strengthen muscles in my shoulder and back which were damaged taking part in another sport and I've notice that that injury is starting to affect my posture.

I was planning to return to riding in the next few weeks and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to struggle and bounce around like a beginner.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,484 Posts
If your knee is not painful, I wonder if it is a crunch you are hearing or more of a dry, crackling sound?

My dh went to an ortho doc in his late 40s and told him his knees were making a grating sound. The doc listened and said if the cartilage is worn down like bone on bone it is very painful and you know because the pain limits you going down stairs and such.
The dry sound dh was hearing was because the ligaments get a bit drier with age and make crackling and popping sounds as they move and stretch.

Now that I am in my 40s, mine are making that grating sound too, but they feel great and I don't worry about it.

If I gallop a lot my trapezius muscles get very strong. But also all the barn chores give me upper body strength I would never have without horses.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,559 Posts
If I gallop a lot my trapezius muscles get very strong. But also all the barn chores give me upper body strength I would never have without horses.
Yes! Last year I was proud of myself because I stacked 50-pound hay bales three bales high. It was hard, but I did it. This year, I stacked three-string alfalfa bales (supposedly 100 pounds but realistically I think more like 80) three bales high, and it was EASY! Barn chores are the best for building muscle.

The hard part for me has been --honestly just like the hard part for Pony being ridden-- using my body correctly. It's been hard to train myself to use all of my muscles correctly, and not just try to use my back when lifting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,953 Posts
I am not sure if its my brain or muscle memory but I've started to "lead" my husband by his hand like I would lead a horse by it's lead line. As you can imagine, he does not appreciate it but I didn't even notice I was doing it.

I also started to move/herd people with my body language and it works amazingly well - people respond rapidly to pressure. Likewise, I didn't notice I was doing it until my husband pointed it out and (rightfully) said I was being rude.

And my tongue always gets itself in position to cluck at people who aren't moving fast enough for my liking. I almost always catch myself but the few times I did cluck at strangers it worked much better than a polite "Excuse me". People respond faster to horse cues than human cues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
391 Posts
I don't think it has changed my body directly because I do not ride often enough, but it has definitely made me aware of the areas I am lacking in flexibility or strength, and I have added to my off-horse workout routine to accommodate that.

I don't cluck at people to make them move faster, but I did start doing it with my dog, who responded pretty well to it. I also find myself saying "woah" and "halt" to my kids when I want them to stop moving.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,048 Posts
Excellent core muscles. Arms are strong. Super flexible (better than co-workers 30 years my junior).
 

·
Registered
Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
Joined
·
2,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Steadyon, Have you looked at the Tucker Ergo stirrups that are sold on Horsesaddleshop.com? I have read a lot about them as the reviews tell that the angle of the stirrup reduces ankle and knee strain a lot. I ordered a pair, and they have not come in yet as it has been a few days.
I cannot wait to try them and see if they make as big of a difference as the customers say they do.
Funny thing is, I have a pair of angled English stirrups kicking around that I bought a few years ago and never wound up using. Same idea as those! Now that my leg position has improved a lot, I don't seem to need them on the English saddles I'm using. But I do think that on a western saddle, I would want angled AND turned stirrups! Just so much more comfortable, I would imagine.
 

·
Registered
Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
Joined
·
2,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was planning to return to riding in the next few weeks and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to struggle and bounce around like a beginner.
Based on my own experience, I'm sorry to say that you're... probably right! But at least knowing what your body SHOULD do, whether or not it's actually willing or able, does make getting riding fit again go a lot more smoothly than actually starting from scratch!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
756 Posts
Steadyon, Have you looked at the Tucker Ergo stirrups that are sold on Horsesaddleshop.com? I have read a lot about them as the reviews tell that the angle of the stirrup reduces ankle and knee strain a lot. I ordered a pair, and they have not come in yet as it has been a few days.
I cannot wait to try them and see if they make as big of a difference as the customers say they do.

My instructor has a pair of Brandi-Lyons-promoted stirrups that are angled, and they do ease the strain on the knee, but I noticed (I was the guinea pig) that you have to work with them, and not against them. (as in, they hold your leg pretty well in position, so if you try to correct for it, you'll hurt. But that was a couple years ago, so I might feel differently...)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
756 Posts
Absolutely better balance and core strength. Stronger legs - that much I can tell from riding. But also, when I'm swimming, my swimming companion - who's only about 10lbs heavier than I am - notes that he floats more readily than I do, meaning I (theoretically) have more muscle. I can tell the difference when I practice yoga, too.



My knees were already shot before I started riding. But I'm strong enough now that it's relaxing to go stirrupless for extended (like most of an hour ride) periods.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,488 Posts
I’ve been riding since childhood, so much of the fitness that you folks have described probably occurred without my noticing.

The majority of changes that have stayed with me through the decades have been the injuries. Fortunately, I’ve escaped serious injuries. But I carry a scar and a bump on my head from being tossed headfirst onto a tree stump. Just a few years ago I noticed that one of my hips hurt more than the other one. Then I remembered being run into a tree by a horse long ago. And I have a dead spot, about the size of a half dollar in the small of my back to remind me of my last rodeo.

I’m a bit bow legged. I attribute that to riding every day the sun shown from the time I was 6 till I left home at 18.

My left leg is noticeably more muscular than my right. I think from decades of mounting mostly from the left of the horse.

Regarding barn chores and upper body strength, as a 95 pound 13 year old, I could grab a 100 pound sack of feed by the ears and swing it onto my shoulder. That hasn’t happened for a long time, and never will again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,192 Posts
I started riding when I was 18, I am slightly knock kneed and at that time weighed 135 lb. now after 61 years and thousands of miles on horseback I am still slightly knock kneed and weigh 120 lb.
If i ride about three times a week I can eat anything and not gain weight. My legs and butt are skinny but I am packing more around the middle than I used to.

My knees always ached when I was younger and riding seemed to help that altho I have had some injuries to my knees so they ache more now because of those injuries. My left leg has been broken in four places (different times) and a nasty crushing accident where a horse fell on that leg.

All in all I don't think riding has changed me a lot but I am just a lot fitter for it because I would be an absolute couch potato without the horses ( and probably a lot fatter as I love my food)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,062 Posts
If i ride about three times a week I can eat anything and not gain weight.

Really!? I ride all the time, at least every other day, and I weight well over 200 lbs. :frown_color: And my horse is at home so I do all the stacking of hay and manure picking too.

I really don't know how riding has changed my body because I was a fat kid, a fat teenager (when I got my first horse) and am still fat in my 40's.

What I do notice is that I feel pretty strong and I have calves of steel........they are so muscular that some jeans are too tight in the calves which I find annoying. I feel like my legs are the strongest part of my body.

But I also have back problems now and then which seem to be worse if I sit in the wrong saddle......like if the saddle is too wide and dips down in front even a little it hurts my back.

But I love riding and I would be lost if I didn't get to go out in the woods and ride at least once or twice a week. I get mentally really depressed if I don't. It's more than just riding the horse, although my horse is my best friend outside of family, but it's also getting that mental escape by being out in nature. I would say the mental benefits are better than the physical!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
Hmm...I don't feel like riding does enough for me on its own. Maybe it slowly improves my core and balance, but I find that I need to work on my yoga, and watch what I eat, to be in better riding shape. Before I bought Coralie I was also hiking several times a week, and now when I go hiking (less than once a week) I can barely keep up! I'm guessing the type of riding matters a lot too though, so maybe my 4-5, 30-45 minute rides on the flat aren't quite enough.

Anddd...in terms of the negative. I do get some lower back pain from rides, my knees are often sore, and I permanently twinged my back after slipping a disc from a fall a couple years ago.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,559 Posts
Anddd...in terms of the negative. I do get some lower back pain from rides, my knees are often sore, and I permanently twinged my back after slipping a disc from a fall a couple years ago.
I was getting a lot of lower back pain after riding for the past, I don't know, maybe 4-5 months. Then last month it more or less stopped. I'm not sure if it's because I started doing back stretches and exercises, or maybe it's because it was caused by my poor cantering form and my form has gotten better. Or maybe it's because I started taking magnesium. My point being, it doesn't have to be that way. You may be able to change it!
 

·
Registered
Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
Joined
·
2,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Haha, well, if those of you who have been riding regularly can't feel the difference it makes... fair enough! BUT let me tell you!!

I rode in my childhood and teens up until about 1999. Stopped at about 17 or 18 when life got in the way. From then on, I only managed to ride on a VERY occasional trail ride, or something, over the next 16 years.

In 2012, I had one-off group riding lesson when I spontaneously joined some friends. All I did was basic walk, trot, and canter for 45 minutes. I just rode like I used to. "Just." I could BARELY walk for the next three days. And the muscles pains in my legs and core lasted TWO WEEKS. From one not-that-strenuous ride.

When I started actually riding regularly again in 2015, my brain remembered what to do but my body just said "Haha NO" and it took about three years to get me riding pretty decently and consistently in all the gaits. Not particularly WELL, mind you, but *decently*.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top