Do you have a double whammy!

If so please don't worry you are not alone. Over time, it’s easy to develop right or left asymmetries because habitually we are left or right handed which means you have a dominant side. Look at the hiker with his heavy bags swung over to the right; the left side of his body is forced to contract to prevent him from tipping over. The horse on the right has the same crookedness. They are both right handed; hollow on the left and over loaded on the right. Habitual one sidedness creates a spinal twist throughout the body and the only way you can dissolve it is by working your body unilaterally; one side at a time....more here.

The horse below has suffered from serious right handedness from a very early age. Kathy (the rider) bought her as an unbacked youngster. Four weeks after putting her under saddle she noticed she was demonstrating intermittent lameness, especially on the right rein, so she called in the vet who referred her to an osteopath. The osteopath prescribed neck manipulation under sedation. After the approved rest period she started to ride her horse again, only to find out that she was still suffered from the same unlevelness. Kathy then called in a physiotherapist who said the horse had, “baby stiffness” and treated her. At first the lameness returned intermittently, but after only a short period it started to increased. Frustrated that nothing seemed to be working she decided to rest her for a year. To her dismay the rest made no difference.

Only treating your horse (unless they have had an accident) is rarely successful, because your horse's crookedness is affected by your crookedness and vice versa. In the following case study, both the horse and rider are right handed; stiff to the right and hollow to the left. This double whammy has created a vicious circle of lameness which can only be successfully resolved by treated horse and rider first in isolation from each other, and then simultaneously as they work together. More here

Photo 1. Kathy is right handed, the increased physical strength in her dominant hand has spreads throughout the whole of her right side. Her horse also prefers to load her right shoulder which means they both have a spinal twist to the right. Photo 2. The horse, being right handed, drives from the left hind sideways overloading the right shoulder which stressed the horse's right side. Kathy’s right- sidedness loads the horse's shoulder even more and blocks the right hind from coming under his body mass, which means it is left dragging out behind. Photo 3. At the end of long side of the arena you can see how Kathy and the saddle have slipped way off to the right, making turning more of a hop, skip and a tip. Recently I attended a biomechanics lecture with the most amazing, expensive equipment. The Presenter showed this asymmetry in graphic slow motion, unfortunately the only remedy he could offer was remedial shoeing, which only masks the problem, or riding lessons with teachers who are not qualified body workers!?
Photo 4. Kathy’s horse, being right handed has a dominant left hind leg which instead of driving forwards crosses sideways over loading her right shoulder. To address this imbalance I worked Kathy unilaterally by asking her to sit over to the left which would force the horse's left hind to bear more weight, thus lightening the weight thrust upon the the right shoulder. Sitting left obviously felt strange as strange to her as it would if I asked her to write with her left hand because she has been sitting over to the right for such a long time. Then I asked her to spiral to the right to unlock the hollowness in her left side, which would also help to open her horse’s left hollow side and improve the her right bend during riding. Photo 5. Simulating rising trot showed that her one-sidedness was still interfering; if you look closely you will see her right hip is still locked down leaving her left hip hiked up. Photo 6. After schooling Kathy for a short while she was able to release down the horse's left side, which would empty the excessive weight in the horse's right shoulder and force the horse to step forwards with the left hind leg unraveling the spinal twist in both horse and rider. Securing this straight foundation in halt would help her to counterbalancing her mare's tip to the right during riding.
So I hear you say, “why not put your inside leg on to stop the horse from leaning in?” Answer, there is a whole heap of horse flesh here, the pressure you use from your relatively small lower leg to try and lift it, will screw up your whole body; lock your right seat-bone down and block your hips and shoulder from turning around the bend! Photo 2

Photo 7. Now Kathy learns to ride with her newly honed positional skills. Even though the horse is still tilting her pelvis to the right Kathy now has the wherewithal to stay straight. Her next step is to work the horse from the ground...more here.

Photo 8. Eventually Kathy’s new found straightness is honed enough to guide her horse into straightness, not by the usual methods of trying to stop the horse from falling in with the inside leg. Kathy uses the secret power of position to rebalance and straighten the horse; she is starting to step forwards and under with her left hind leg, release the pressure on her right shoulder, lift her back and stretch her head and neck out of her shoulder for the first time in her life.

Three weeks later Kathy said: "At last, after a lifetime of unanswered questions, misguided tuition, lame horses and an aging body….I have found the skills to retrain my body to become symmetrical (even though it thinks it already is), which miraculously is straightening my horses without gadgets or force, giving the feeling of true harmony. What a find!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Never lose hope, I nearly did!