The Horse Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
101 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is something that's been tugging at my mind for awhile now, and maybe some of you can shed some insight?

Before I got back into taking riding lessons, I went on a few trail rides. These were 45 minutes rides at a walk, very easy-going, and both times at the end of it, I dismounted to some seriously extreme pain in my ankles and knees (ironically my husband who had never been on a horse in his life had absolutely zero pain). I chalked it up to my own bad form, even though I did remember to try to keep my ankles down and maintain good posture.

However, when it came time to get on my first lesson horse, even though I was just as clueless as during those trail rides, I've had absolutely zero pain after riding. Even when trotting for the first time, the most I had was a tiny bit of soreness in my thighs the next day. Keep in mind I've only been in the saddle about 8 times, so I doubt my overall form has really improved that much.

Now, just this past weekend, we went on another trail ride. And since I've had my lessons, I was extremely mindful about trying to apply everything I have learned thus far into my form and not allowing myself to slack off (also note, the stirrups were adjusted for me as well). Another 45 minute ride, yet once again, when dismounting the pain in my legs was almost unbearable.

I honestly am really confused by this! Three days later I was back on my lesson horse, and as usual, no pain at all after riding. Is it me? That my form really does just get THAT bad on the trails? Or could it be something else?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,060 Posts
My guess would be on days that you have pain your stirrups were too short......or maybe the saddle just put you in a bad position and isn't the right fit for you.

I don't think it's your actual riding form because I've never heard of "good" form being less painful. As a matter of fact, a lot of folks complain that heels down/toes straight hurts their ankles. I can count the riding lessons I've had on one hand in 20+ years so I don't think proper position has much to do with it. I would almost bet money it's the stirrup length being too short. I ride with a really long stirrup and when I've tried to bring them up for more security it leaves my knees hurting. And I've had some saddles that give me back pain because they put me in a bad posture, especially if the saddle is a little too wide for the horse and I've leaning back ever-so-slightly. I've found saddle fit is very important for my comfort, not just the horse's comfort.

So yeah, try different stirrup lengths and really try to determine if the saddle is the right size for you and sits you level, not leaning backwards or forwards. If you're new to riding, your muscles will be sore. But I don't think your joints should be hurting, mine never were (unless I raised my stirrups up).

PS. Maybe you are just trying too hard and your body isn't used to it. I would practice "form" in your lessons and relax and be more natural trail riding. Even without lessons, if you trail ride enough, you will figure out how to best sit and balance yourself. Some of that stuff will develop over time without you trying so hard. Maybe you could be trying too hard and getting yourself sore.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,173 Posts
I have ridden for over 60 years and I still find that out on the trails when I do mostly walking, my knees and sometimes ankles will ache something awful. I try to do some trotting here and there and that helps avoid these pains. I will add here that I do have bad knees anyway.
I am riding in the same saddle, same horse etc but schooling or more trotting on the trails, I don't have any pain.
You didn't say if you are riding in a western or english saddle but I find trotting and posting keeps my knees from stiffening up. Are you riding the same saddle/horse in both types of riding?
As said try adjusting your stirrups to a more comfortable level and don't try too hard when out of the trails, try to relax more and not hold your legs in place, just let them go and see if it is a more comfortable place for them.
Good luck and happy riding.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,508 Posts
Were you riding Western on the trail rides and English in the lessons?
 
  • Like
Reactions: AbbySmith

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,173 Posts
Plus if you are riding in a western saddle I have found that the stirrups can be turned out somehow putting extra twisting pressure on your knees. ankles
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,060 Posts
Plus if you are riding in a western saddle I have found that the stirrups can be turned out somehow putting extra twisting pressure on your knees. ankles
Yes, that's true. I "train" all my saddles when I get them by wetting the stirrup leathers a bit and then letting them dry with a broom handle run through them. Eventually they stay the way you want them to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
101 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone for responding! To answer some quick questions...

I've used western saddles on both trail rides and my lessons. I've never actually sat in an English saddle before 😅

For my lessons I'm always on the same horse and use the same saddle.

I suppose there's a very good chance it could be the stirrup length causing these issues. I certainly don't know well enough yet to know what they should be at, I just sort of estimate at what feels 'right', whereas at my lessons my trainer helped me find the exact length I need.

I just can't help but find it ironic that every time we finish one of these rides I'm in such pain, and my know-nothing husband feels absolutely nothing! He says that means he's a true cowboy haha ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,858 Posts
Too short stirrups 100%. I've broken my ankles so many times over the years. My toes will go numb. I can only use shock absorption stirrups now. My GOODNESS. They help. A lot.

You get some that help ankles, knees or hips. Ankles & knees are what I go for. I bought £150 stirrups (got stolen) and got £40 pair after and they do help quite a bit, even compared to the expensive ones I had before. I actually knew a few older riders at my old school that brought their own stirrup leathers and stirrups for rides out/lessons. They just had to arrive a little earlier to swap them over. So an idea?

edit: I also found that I began short but over the course of an hour ride I would drop them one - three holes. If I kept them same length entire ride I'd die, on the lesson horses I mean with their cheapo irons.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,858 Posts
Oh and before dismounting I always spend 5minutes with my feet out, doing ankle rolls. Lifting each leg up and over the front flap of the saddle, or both if you're feeling adventurous. I do gentle stretches and make sure I land on grass and bend my knees properly. I have nothing against dismounting on a block but do think until more experienced on an absolutely safe horse this should be done with the help of a second person to hold the horse steady.

If in an arena or on a horse I'm comfortable on during downtime, waiting turns or walking between trots etc, I'll take my legs out and stretch. An an ibuprofen, (or shot xD) of something before getting on. I'm 31 but I've wrecked my lower joints :<
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,508 Posts
If it's a walking trail ride, would you feel comfortable taking your feet out of the stirrups for the majority of the ride, and then seeing how you felt?
 
  • Like
Reactions: bsms

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,478 Posts
Is the horse on the trail rides different to the lesson horse? Sometimes the wideness of their barrel can affect your alignment causing pain in ankles knees and hips.

I get awful pain in my ankles due to tendon problems, knees and right hip due to wear and tear, It's always worse after riding rounder horses.

Just a thought...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Woodhaven

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,325 Posts
I have ridden for over 60 years and I still find that out on the trails when I do mostly walking, my knees and sometimes ankles will ache something awful. I try to do some trotting here and there and that helps avoid these pains. I will add here that I do have bad knees anyway.
I am riding in the same saddle, same horse etc but schooling or more trotting on the trails, I don't have any pain.
I was going to say the exact same thing.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
13,088 Posts
My guess: You feel more nervous on the trail and tense up, bracing against the stirrups. Just enough that it strains your joints. At least, that is what usually gets me. Your mileage may vary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49,417 Posts
My strong feeling is that you are having less motion on the trail ride, thus your circulation of blood and lymbic fluids is reduced, compared to the lesson where you trot some, whether you post or sit the trot.
One thing you can do on the trail ride every now and then is stand up, turn sideways and straighten out your legs as much as possible. Western saddles hurt my knees way more than an English or dressage saddle. I would look into a gizmo you could put onto the saddle stirrup leather that will allow you to postion the stirrups in any rotation that is easiest on your knees. If your ankle hurts, the stirrup is too short.

Try an English saddle when you can, just for yucks and giggles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,080 Posts
I have not read all this but was the Op's first trail ride in a western saddle? The western stirrup fenders are stiff compared to Engsh stirrup leathers and bend the riders knees in an unacustomed angle, causing knee and ankle pain. We keep wooden dowels stuck through our western saddle stirrups while stored to keep them bent to near 90 degree angles so they don't twist our legs so badly.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
904 Posts
I’m almost always sore after a trail but not after riding at home. For me I think I tense up while going over rough terrain and I get off walking like a granny. I found that if I took my feet out of the stirrups every now and then it helped
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top