Well, it shouldn’t be! Although many men may also have issues with back pain, they are usually stoic and pretty much keep quiet about it. We know many riders who suffer with back issues – backaches, stiffness, even slipped discs! The first thing to look at is their saddle, because many of these symptoms – especially tight lower back muscles – come from the rider subconsciously protecting herself from the effects of a poorly fitting saddle.
The ideal situation is to have loose and supple muscles (for both horse and rider!), which for the rider’s back are supported with strong abdominal muscles. A lower back which is hyperextended indicates a protecting position, because if you look at the rider from the side, she will have ‘collapsed’ at the hip because it simply hurts to sit on the pubic symphysis. As such, her legs respond by shooting forward and she ends up in the dreaded chair position.
The muscle attachment is impacted by the amount of pelvic tilt that results from wanting to find a comfortable position. For a female, there are a number of design features in the saddle which should be taken into consideration when determining proper fit. To avoid lower back pain, the easiest fix is to incorporate enough support into the seat at the cantle to ensure the back is supported from behind and the rider is prevented from slouching or hyperextending the back.
Author of ‘Suffering in Silence – The Saddle fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses’ (2013) Jochen Schleese teaches riders and professionals to recognize saddle fit issues in Saddlefit 4 Life lectures and seminars. We help you find answers in a personal 80 point Saddle Fit Diagnostic Evaluation.