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Re: [RC] sore back help! - Don Huston

At 01:55 PM 4/27/2008 Sunday, Jane wrote:

1. Should I continue to ride her in this saddle for training until I
find something that works?  Or will the cumulative effect be too much
for her back?

Before doing any riding I would try to determine if the soreness is just in the skin from friction and rubbing or deeper into the muscles. Since you are just starting 50's a lot of this soreness can be just from a longer time on her back and more miles but it never hurts to do some checking.

I would go over the horse carefully with my hands to determine where and how sore she is. I would tie the horse in a place where she is comfortable with a flake of hay on the ground and leave her for 10 minutes to get her into eating mode before starting. If it's hot and sunny then I would get a shady spot and I use fly spray so the horse is not reacting to bugs and making me think it's a sore spot. Eating off the ground can get the horse to stretch and relax their back muscles. I would start by brushing the back and watch for any reaction, skin twitching, stop eating etc. Chaffed skin will react to a stiff brush but muscles won't. When you find a sore spot check the other side of the horse to see if the spots are uniform. My first fifty after recovering from a right knee injury I chaffed the left side of my horse by riding crooked and over using my left leg even tho I tried not to. If the skin is sensitive then you cannot press there to check for sore muscles so circle the sore area with colored chalk. To check for sore muscles I start on the side of the neck above the shoulders or someplace where the horse is not sore. I press firmly with my thumb or 2 fingers for a count of 5 then release. The horse should do nothing. Don't jump from there to a spot you think is sore. You surprise a horse by stabbing a sore spot and you can get bit or kicked. Move along the back every 2-3 inches using the same pressure each time and stay out of the sore skin areas. If you are 2-3 inches outside the sore skin area and get a reaction to pressure all around it then the muscles are probably sore also under the sore skin. Correlate these sore spots to the under side of the saddle to try and determine if there is a hard spot there that might be causing excess pressure. I would also check the pad for any hard spots from a build up of sweat and or dirt. I clean my Woolback pads with a high pressure nozzle and just plain water then hang dry.

After a week or so of R&R I would start riding the saddle again but keep checking those sore spots. If they do not go away in 2 weeks then something will have to change.

2. There are a lot of endurance saddles out there, does anyone have a
suggestion on where to start looking for a mare with this general
type of build?  Or am I crazy and it is just the way I am riding her?

I would not change saddles yet and you are not crazy but how you ride does matter. Ask your riding buddies to watch you and the horse to see if something is out of balance like stirrup length etc. Don't ride the same gait too long at any one time and practice changing diagonals to prevent over stressing any particular muscle group. You are doing exactly the right thing trying to correct this sore back thing and you will learn a lot about your horse before it's solved. The days when I finish a 50 and find my horse's back to be perfectly fine is very satisfying but it doesn't always turn out that way. At least now, because I have had many rides with no back soreness on my horse, I know that any back soreness that does show up is not due to saddle fit but something else like my bum knee.

Don Huston
donhuston @ cox.net
SanDiego, Calif


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[RC] sore back help!, Jane Rodrigue