A Physiotherapist’s Guide to Equine Sports - Part 1: Understanding The Risks

Linzi Fletcher-Bates
on
March 28, 2022

About the writer

With a range of equine experience from eventing to showing, polo to horseball, riding has often overlapped with Linzi’s 30+ year physiotherapy career. She has trained ponies and horses for various disciplines alongside top instructors and coaches and uses her unique experience to manage and treat equestrian-related conditions and injuries.

Introduction to Equestrianism

Equestrian sports and horse riding, as well as the general care of our four-legged friends, is hugely popular. In 2021, approximately 264,800 people participated in equestrian sports in England.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/899218/equestrian-participation-uk

This is a very broad term, encompassing a vast range of skills and whole-body physical requirements from eventing and jumping to hacking out and the general day-to-day care of horses. The White House Clinic is close to the Peak District, with so many interesting riding activities, which means we often see riders asking about how we can help their health.

The risks riders face

As equestrians, we all understand the importance of looking after the health and comfort of our horses — it’s fair to say that most riders would probably think of this before their own health, fitness and training!

But evidence indicates that riders who never have physiotherapy assessment or treatment were 73% more likely to have respective horse asymmetries of the spine, compared to those riders undergoing physiotherapy (Greve, L. & Dyson,L. 2015).

Some examples of the types of injuries and conditions commonly seen in riders include back shoulder and knee pain. These may have arisen from a fall or a kick or be linked to an existing condition such as Osteoarthritis.

Why you should invest in your training

Riders invest countless hours and invest a great deal of money in training our horses, but all too often ignore training ourselves. We can truly benefit by maximising the input of skilled coaches and trainers.

I have found that combining a physiotherapists’ experience of human anatomy and physiology regarding injury/conditions, combined with a knowledge of tack, equipment and training options, has proven invaluable in rehabilitation and management.

In the next article in this series, I’ll explain how to identify riding injuries.

If you’d like to find out how we can help you with your riding, and how you care for your horse through improving your own physical health, then get in touch.

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