“Sitting on my horses back , riding through the green and leafy Wiltshire countryside, I feel that I am able to sit here in my Reactor Panel saddle for hours.
I am very grateful for this, as there was a time when this wouldn’t have been possible.
I sustained a serious back injury in my early twenties, leading me to put my horse, Dino, out on loan and pack away my jodphurs and boots. This was a devastating time, horses are a lifestyle rather than a hobby, and I was left wondering what to do with my time.
With this time I decided to beat my back injury and I took up Pilates. It was hard at first, I still had a lot of pain, especially after sessions. I realise now, however, that I was very lucky.
I started practicing Pilates with a Pilates Foundation teacher and without realising it I had chosen the best Pilates Organisation in the UK. I lapped up the new knowledge like a sponge, enabling me to change my alignment problems and posture which had caused my back to become damaged in the first place.
As my body began to feel stronger I took Dino back from being out on loan and began riding again. The Reactor Panel has helped massively. The panels are 20% bigger than a normal saddle, much better for Dino’s back! The Sorbathane blocks that fix the panels on to the saddle work to alleviate jarring, which I find is perfect for my back. I still find that if I ride anyone else’s horse with a ‘normal’ saddle I feel uncomfortable.
Having ridden horses since I was young, I feel the most balanced and strong that I have ever felt. Pilates breathing has encouraged me to stay relaxed in the saddle and maintain my abdominal control and ‘Core’ strength. I can feel how Dino is moving, which leg is stepping under and intricacies of his movement. The Reactor Panel has helped immensely as I now feel close to my horse rather than perched on top.
I lose count now how many of my friends ride their horses but suffer from pain. This seems to be a plethora of issues including neck pain, lower back pain and knee pain. I believe that this is due to posture in the saddle, doing general stable duties with poor posture and also riding horses that may have ill fitting saddles or physical asymmetries themselves.
I have learnt that coping with pain is not something that we should accept as a hazard associated with horse riding. Strengthening your Centre (‘Core’ muscles) through Pilates, purchasing a saddle which fits correctly and addressing your and your horses postural problems will allow you to ride for hours.
I am a massive fan of the Reactor Panel Saddle, as well as The Saddle Exchange. This saddle is the only saddle I have ever owned that Dino has been able to move correctly in. His paces are free and even, and we get great scores in dressage and he never runs out when jumping.
I have since become a Pilates Foundation Teacher, as I want to be able to help others beat pain like I have been able to do. I am hopeful that other riders will seek me out for advice to help improve not only their own bodies but also their horses.
I teach not only group Matwork sessions, but I am also very happy to teach one to one sessions or small group classes. If you would like more information about my services, please visit www.inspiredpilates.co.uk or ring me on 07966174864.
Inspired Pilates- Pilates Foundation Teacher.”