Have you ever felt crooked or cockeyed while riding your horse?
Or where you just can’t seem to sit straight and balanced?
We all check to see if our stirrups are even and our saddle centered. But sometimes that doesn’t help.
I have three suggestions that might help with this on Horse Mysteries Solved podcast today.
The saddle tree itself being crooked
The rider’s body is misaligned someplace
The horse’s sternum can be stuck to one side
All sound unusual, but actually happen quite often.
Renee Tucker, DVM
Hello, friends. Dr. Renee Tucker here. Hey, have you ever felt like you were crooked while you’re riding? Like you just feel crooked?
It feels like maybe one leg is longer than the other or your shoulder is weird. Then that’s not normal, right? So you check the saddle, am I right? We make sure the saddle is totally centered over the horse, check our stirrups, make sure maybe somehow they got one longer than the other one. Okay?
And then you still feel crooked and you kind of just squiggle around and stretch and try to feel balanced, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Okay, so what options do we have? Well, there’s three that I’m thinking of today. The first one is the saddle itself can be made crooked. So particularly if you have a new horse, new rider, new saddle, whatever trainer with a whole bunch of different horses.
Okay. The saddle can come off the line brand new and fresh and be crooked. The tree itself is not perfect and visibly crooked in about 50% of brand new saddles. It’s horrible. I can’t actually believe that’s true.
This is from Dr. Joyce Harmon, who’s an excellent saddle fitter veterinarian. Holistic vet. She’s awesome. And she has that information on her books that she writes about saddlefing.
So anyways, the saddle itself can be crooked. I do recommend her books to check that with real detail. But if you just tip it so it’s sitting there on the pommel. So the front of the saddle so the front of the saddle is laying on the ground, and you look at it from the back, which would then be the top of the saddle, align your eyeballs perfectly over the gullet and see if it’s not crooked. You can really see it.
It’s terrible. But check it out. If you’re chronically feeling crooked, even a little, check that dang saddle. Okay, number two, we could be crooked. You know, we’re people and stuff happens and we get out of alignment.
So there’s plenty of times people feel crooked and they check the saddle, but it’s them that’s crooked. It could be anything, guys. Sure, it could be your pelvis is crooked. That makes sense, right? But maybe your hips a little off.
Sometimes knees can get out of alignment or I don’t know if you’ve had this where you go to the some chiropractors do this. They lay you on the table and they check the length of your legs. They just see that they both are even with each other. And then they’re like, oh, no, you’re off an inch. And then they’ll go and fix your atlas, which is fine.
And then they check your legs again, and your legs are now lined up. And I find it very interesting that that could happen. But everything is connected in our bodies. It’s always surprising and fun to me to find out when I’m working on one part of the horse, another part will release or fix or I’m like, hey, I didn’t even work on that yet. And look, it’s fixed.
Cool. Okay, so if you feeling crooked, we’re going to check the saddle, we’re going to check the rider’s physical alignment of their bones. Okay? And then the third thing I wanted to mention is the horse’s sternum can be misaligned. Obviously the horse can be misaligned all over the place, sure.
But the sternum is the front, like the breastbone of the horse, okay? And it can be out of alignment. You say, well, so what? Well, dude, it’s the base of the entire barrel, that entire thoracic cavity of the horse. Now, because they don’t have a clavicle or collarbone like we do, that barrel just swings.
It should swing back and forth between the front legs. So if you watch a horse from behind, you will literally see the barrel of the horse swinging from right to left and right to left, evenly symmetrically. Okay? You can try that to see if the stern is misaligned. If you watch the horse and it swings to the right and doesn’t ever go over to the left, that’s a clear sign the sternum has the misalignment.
So the barrel is not moving. So then you as a rider may feel crooked. The other way you can check the sternum is if you just kind of look from the front. If the horse is standing perfectly square, sometimes the pectoral muscles, so those chest muscles will be uneven. You’re like, why does one look bigger and the other one looks smaller if the horse is standing perfectly square, it’s weird, but that can be a sign that the sternum is misaligned as well.
There’s also a way to kind of measure with the bones. It’s too hard to explain, but I’ve got a video, it’s a free video in my free video series. So you can see what to check for on the sternum as well by feeling and kind of measuring. Okay? So those are the three things.
If you feel crooked or if you have a rider, maybe you’re training or just helping your friend. Dudes are always crooked. Or I had this one time where I was cantering trying to cancer. And if I could think now, okay, if I was cantering on the left lead, then everything was fine. But then if I can’t on the right lead, my lower leg from my knee down would swing.
I’m like, why is that doing that? I feel like I had even leg length, even weight distribution on both stirrups. I felt my stirrup length was perfectly even. Check the saddle, blah, blah, blah. The point was my hip was misaligned.
I don’t know why this happens. Okay, so my hip is misaligned. Everything feels fine. I don’t feel crooked in that case. But from my knee down, my leg would swing forward to back while I’m cantering in one direction.
So it is weird stuff like that. Okay? Asymmetries then you try to figure out the obvious things, but then time to check the alignments. Okay, I think that’s all I got for today. For if you feel crooked and you’ve checked the obvious.
We’re going to check if the set is made crooked, if the rider is misaligned, or if the horse’s sternum or the barrel then is misaligned. Oh, that’s all. All right, I’ll talk to you guys later.
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