Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Blip In The Radar


I was all excited to be done with showing, so that I could get back to training.  Except I made a slight miscalculation.  You see, I stopped showing because the last show I went to was hot and buggy and I was like "I am so not dealing with that, or putting my horse through that."  Unfortunately, Mother Nature heard me and she was all like  "Oh, you're gonna puss out because it's 90 degrees?  Well, here's 100 degrees!  How do you like that, Hon'?"


Here I sit, melting, not riding my horse.  But, I'm reflecting!  So, that's good.

I got a book, a really good book, recommended by Muriel (a regular commentator here, and a good horseman*, too).  The book is "The Rider's Pain Free Back" by James Warson, MD.  I got it yesterday, and I read it yesterday.  It was just that good.

For years, I've been hearing the same thing from doctors:  "Stop riding."  "Riding is bad for your back."  Well.... thanks, Sherlock!  Riding is what got me into this mess in the first place, obviously I know it's not good for my back.  But it's my heroin, it's my drug, my addiction. It isn't optional.

Do you think for a hot second that I would have a farm if horses weren't my everything? Why the heck would I get up and clean stalls every morning if this was optional?  Why would I seed and mow pastures, drag arenas, pick up poop and bust my ass riding if this "riding" thing were just a hobby?  Why would I spend my time following every veterinary journal's publication on equine physiology and behavior?  Why would I spend my money bringing in the best trainer I know to teach me horsemanship?  Why on earth would I expose my children to the hot mess that is the horse world if I didn't think that it was wonderful, fulfilling, and one of the greatest endeavors that any human can undertake?

But, the doctors who have worked on me don't see that.  They don't see the addiction that is horsemanship, and they don't see the positives of my lifestyle.   They see a battered 30 year old woman.  A woman who has more aches and pains than they can address.  They see a patient, falling apart in front of their eyes.  They can only see the physical aspect of me: the spine that is degenerating, the arthritis, the muscle spasms.  They don't see the soul of me, the psyche of me:  the person who rides through the pain, the person who is strong and capable and tough, the person who has learned the greatest lessons of her life on the back of a horse.  The person who knows that every single good thing about her personality was taught to her by a horse.

James Warson sees that.  He is a horseman, himself.  He understands that this lifestyle is not something that is optional.  And so, he does not lecture on what we should and should not do.  He simply illuminates our anatomy, he talks about the types of injuries we sustain as riders and how this effects our riding.  He talks about different disciplines, and how that effects riding.  He talks about the horse's conformation, and how that effects a rider's pathologies.  He gives many examples of exercises to help alleviate and strengthen a rider's weak points.  But, he never says:  "Don't ride."

Most of the book was not new to me.  I have a background in anatomy and physiology, so I understand how our bodies work.  I know the exercises I need to do to keep myself fit, I know what I'm working against, biomechanically, with my injuries.  But it is just so nice to hear an actual expert confirm that!  And, I did learn a few new stretches to try for my specific issues.  I also learned how my specific injuries relate to riding, biomechanically.  That is invaluable information.

I leave you with a recent picture of Spider.  I think he looks pretty good:

If you remember, I had a couple of posts about following his physical progress this year, and I'm pretty pleased.  Here he is from earlier this year:

* I always say "horseman", regardless of actual gender.  I detest the term "horsewoman".  It's misogynistic.  I do not need a separate category.  I can compete with the men, we are equal.  And, really, "horseperson" just sounds dumb and PC.  My autocorrect software doesn't even recognize the word.  We are all horsemen.  Don't you pat my head and call me a "horsewoman", because I guarantee you that I've got bigger balls than you, anyway.


  1. I've got some back issues - not anywhere as serious as yours - but I've always found riding to be good for back stability - the exercise involved and using the core in riding really helps with keeping the back stable. I also don't do what I can't do - lifting heavy things or twisting at the waist, and I mostly benefit from the riding.

    Doctors don't know everything . . .

  2. That is why I was so pleased when I met my knee surgeon. After a discussion about how both knees needed replacement. I told him I rode horses. Without skipping a beat he very cheerfully asked, "Oh! Do you ride English or Western?" Never a judgment or "oh, no you can't do that." Then he simply told me he had no idea how long it would take after surgery before I could ride again like I do now.

    Made all the difference to me about having him do my replacements. Yes indeed!!!!

    Glad you found the book. It did look like a good one.

  3. Luckily my chiropractor that works on me for my neck (whiplash)has told me that as long as I am riding with the correct posture, that riding is actually good for you.

    I hear you on the horseman thing. It really bugs me when people go overboard with replacing men with person or woman. In proper writing "men" and "he" is used to refer to both men and women when not reffering a specific person. I remember a pc college professor calling a classmate of mine a "chairperson" and she got all upset, saying she was a "chairman" and didn't want to be called anything else.

  4. spider looks great!!!

    and your grass does too. wow, what a difference!

  5. Yep, grass & Spider look GOOd ^-^

    I am glad you like the book. I was worried you would find it too banal, because there is nothing new in it. But I like what he says about harmonics with your horse, After selling my horses due to my back injury, I looked for a COMFORTABLE horse it came on top of my list! I also learnt about isometric and isotonics exercises. It makes so much sense.
    At pilates, my trainer hang me upside down. WOAH FANTASTIC! for my lower back. You do not need to be hanging vertically down, only a slope of 10 degrees can make a difference. I am now looking to buy an inversion table. because IMO it will help with the "compression" due to the horse riding.
    NOTE: inversion table needs to be used with lots of CAUTION, otherwise you may produce more trauma to your spine than help!!!

    I thank you a lot about the compliment to be a "horseman" *blush*

    I have come to an acceptance (at 41 yrs old) that I cannot live without owning a horse that I can ride. It only dawns on me last week. I gratefully acknowledge that understanding. Better late than never HAHAHA!

    So I understand your beautiful post. I hope to be riding at the age of 80 yrs old too ^-^

  6. Sounds like a book I will be buying for myself and my daughter. There's always something new to learn and in my opinion doctor's don't know everything. Riding is exercise and exercise is good for you in my book.

    I like your attitude. Right now things might not be the best they can be for you and your back but with so many scientific/medical advancements coming so quickly in a few years they may be able to really help your back problems.


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