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Re: [RC] sore back help! - Diane Trefethen

I just completed my FIRST 50 mile race (Foxcatcher) - we got the turtle award, which is fine with me since my goal was to finish and have a healthy horse. I should be thrilled, but the luster is taken out of the accomplishment because I feel guilty for her sore back. My mare's report card went as follows: after 25 miles - all A's; after 40 miles - all A's and 1 B for back/withers; after 50 miles - all A's and a C for back/withers. Additionally, I noticed today, the day after the ride, that there is some chafing along her ribs/ sides.

Hi Jane,

Before you go out and spend one red cent on new tack, try riding faster.

Going slowly for 50/75/100 miles is a two-edged sword. True you do not risk over-riding your horse, but that does *not* mean you are doing the best by her. The more time you spend sitting down (walking), the more pressure and weight you put on her back. Walking is more tiring for the rider than a posting trot, and it takes longer to get where you are going, so in addition to the extra weight and pressure, you get a more fatigued, ie, less competent rider. The extra walking means more chafing, not just for the horse but for the rider as well. Sitting a lot also hurts our butts and strains the lower back more so now we have weight, pressure, sub par riding AND the rider is also trying to avoid sitting in a way that causes pain.

Since your horse had no problems with your tack at 30 miles and assuming you averaged about 6 mph on the 50, bump your speed up to 7-8 mph at your next ride. Do not worry about B's or an occasional C. You are trying to find the optimum pacing for your horse AND determine whether you have a tack problem. If you finish with 2-3 hours to spare and she still has a sore back, then look for saddle/pad fit problems. After all, she's a year older and her shape may have changed just enough over the winter that she really does need a new saddle. But don't look there first.

Diane Trefethen
AERC #2691


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[RC] sore back help!, Jane Rodrigue