A fascinating chiropractic study has been undertaken in two French riding schools. A worrying 74% of horses were found to have severe back problems, with only 26% with mild problems, or unaffected. About 60% of horses had problems in more than one area.
Nineteen horses were examined and assessed at work and rest, and the resulting findings then compared to the way the individual horses had been ridden, and how the riders had been taught.
The problems found in the resting horses correlated directly with both the horses’ demeanour in work, and the manner in which the horses were ridden. Significant differences in teaching styles between the schools showed a markedly different impact on the rider and horse posture.
A very brief summary of the data suggests that one of the schools focussed on control of the horses more than riders’ posture and technique. This in turn produced riders with higher heel positions and shorter reins/higher hand postitions, causing the horses’ way of going to be hollow backed with a high head carriage. All the horses in this school were found to have back problems.
The second school concentrated on rider posture, and lower heel position and longer reins allowed the horses to work with a low head carriage and round neck, which caused much less negative impact on the vertebrae, with a proportion of horses without back problems. The study also touched on the behavioural problems associated with back pain, such as head shaking and aggression.
It’s good to see such a study undertaken, lets hope that the message is received and acted upon.
The full study is HERE