Back pain/ discouraged

So I’ve always wanted to do more in my riding and go as far as possible. Last year I had 3 pretty bad falls in a single month and I’ve had back pain ever since. Any advice in dealing with this pain? I really don’t want it to interfere with my riding but every time my horse acts up I’m worried I’m going to get hurt again. I used to be really confident when riding and since my back injury I’ve become more timid. I want to overcome it but don’t know how to.

Also I was wondering what your advice would be when feeling discouraged in riding? I recently got a new slightly green mare and she has been a lot of trouble recently. She’s really fussy and although I really enjoy jumping her and the majority of her issues simply need more training, I can’t help but feel discouraged. I feel like I’m not capable of training her even though I have plenty of experience and I have the guidance of my trainer. I know its mind over matter in this situation but that almost makes it harder for me.

What does your doctor say?

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I’m with Laurierace. What does your Dr say? Do you know what is causing the back pain? Have you had any diagnostics… x-ray, MRI, CT, etc?

Maybe you need to step back from your new green bean and ride a more settled horse until you get your confidence back. IMO, riding in fear is not a good place to be. You’ll be less flexible and more tense waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

Maybe at this time you aren’t capable of training her because of the fear. Does your trainer have something else you could ride for a bit to work on your fear?

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You might want to read my thread in this Forum, Riders With Health Issues, called “Chronic Pain”, started March 11, 2017.

It is about a program I heard on The People’s Pharmacy, by a back surgeon who figured out a way so that a LOT of his patients did not need surgery at all. In fact he had patients who cancelled surgery altogether because their back pain stopped completely.

I tried this. I had been having agonizing pain in my back muscles when I did 2-point and nothing was helping. I tried his “descriptive writing” and in a week or two my back pain WENT AWAY and did not return.

It is not complicated, writing about your pain for 20 minutes, preferably twice a day, and then immediately tearing it up and throwing it away.

It worked for me, no drugs and no surgery and I am mostly pain free in my back.

The silicon full seat breeches help me A LOT whenever I feel insecure on a horse’s back. I can follow the motion of the back better and I stopped sliding around in the saddle.

Good luck in getting better!


Talk to a good sports medicine orthopedist first. An excellent one of those literally changed my life when I experienced terrible back pain.

For the horse, discouragement happens to everyone, don’t feel alone. The best thing for both of you might be to take a break from each other. I have to do this occasionally with my young horse – he’s a sweet thing, but young horses are challenging, physically & mentally, and it’s better to take a step back then end up in fights where you resent each other. A break can be time off or getting some trainer rides for the horse or for me, it’s taking some lessons (since I don’t have regular lessons, it’s a big bonus for me when I can have some outside eyes & input from someone not emotionally invested). I have a lot of experience & usually work on my own, but I firmly believe a really important thing with horses is recognizing when you need a “reset” or a diversion to prevent further frustration.


Have you had the pain diagnosed? Depending on what’s going on in there, your fix could be as simple as a few weeks to months of physical therapy.

The back pain I have is my own fault. If I don’t watch my posture it hurts, particularly if I’ve been sitting for a while. If I stop for a moment and get myself standing correctly it goes away. It doesn’t bother me when I ride. However, one thing I’m doing a lot of is standing in the stirrups. Not 2-point. You should be maintaining the straight line from your ears down to your ankles.

I started doing it after attending a Julie Goodnight session at Equine Affaire a couple of years ago. “How to ride until you are 90.” A huge audience and I was one of the babies at 69. It’s good for your core and balance, and I think your confidence also. I was consistent with it for a while but then let it drop out of my routine. When I started back up again I was shocked at the difference it had made.

Now I’m very consistent after a clinic and private lesson with Susan Harris. My horse and I have undergone a complete makeover. We are 25 and 71 respectively. The farrier put him in Avanti shoes which ease his breakover and vastly improved his movement. He’s on Previcox and a joint supplement with soft tissue support. I lost a lot of weight due to a sort of medication washout so I’m feeling a lot skinnier and getting back in shape. Standing is helping me adjust my position in the saddle and helps my posting. Susan added a rear riser pad because his back has dropped quite a bit. My saddle went to the fitter for an adjustment. The entire combination is amazing. She had me doing quite a bit of standing and I was able to do it at the trot much better than I anticipated. I have a new horse and he has a much better rider. We are having a fine time and he’s looks a lot happier, I’m told.

Your horse may be picking up your hesitancy. You can’t get fear or hesitancy out of your mind, It’s wired in now. Don’t try to ignore it. Work on developing some thought patterns which you can do before you get on. Figure out what you can do when she gets wonky. I figured out how to readjust myself in mid-air so I landed on my left butt. Can you find someone else to ride her? If yes, then have them do the more advanced work to keep her in shape and work on the fussiness. When you get on her, do easy stuff, walk, trot, easy canter, while your confidence improves. Don’t let anyone bug you! If you can also ride a quieter horse that should help.

There are some books on dealing with fear and other emotions. The one I like is Riding Fear Free by Laura Daley. The introduction is by Jody Lyons, trainer John Lyons’ 2nd wife who was petrified of horses when they met. It’s set up to train you like you would train your horse. It also has information for trainers and instructors so they understand your issues. That can help so you don’t get pushed out of your current comfort level.

You can tackle this. Plan out your goals and don’t let anyone push you too hard. My horse has “grown out” of most of his spookiness and I have a much better seat to stick with him. This morning a rider was working with a trainer and twice she was headed straight for us. The first time she damn near hit us because she was less than a length away. My horse was preparing to run. She doesn’t start the turn when she should. Second time she wasn’t quite as close. She is a good rider but this explains why she seems to get in other people’s way.

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Just so you know, I picked up standing in the stirrups with my legs straight after I read Noel Jackson’s "Effective Horsemanship. He calls this position “Vertical Far.”

When I introduced this to my riding teacher she picked up on it, and introduced it to her lesson students (with the intro of "have you ever heard of this position?) One of her lessons she let me ride in the ring plodding around and she told the class that I had told her about it. I got a few minor dirty looks. My riding teacher had her class do this at all the gaits.

Because of my considerable problems with balance I just do it at a walk nowadays, but decades ago when I was better physically I practiced my posting by going from Vertical Far to two-point, not touching the saddle at all.

This position can really help a rider’s lower leg position, giving a rider’s body a reason to keep those darn lower legs in place.

I’ll have to try it when my back starts hurting, that is such a good idea and I had never thought of it for helping my back. Thank you!

As others have said - you need to diagnose the cause of the back pain. You may need to start an exercise program - back pain is often tied to other issues in your body.

Then -you have a valid fear issue. There are several ways to approach this - but you may need to put your young horse in training for a while, and ease back into riding her as you develop confidence and trust in her again. That can take a while. Realize that your trepidation is causing her stress too - so this can become a really negative cycle. You can NOT fix it on your own…

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Where is your pain? Some back pain can be virtually eliminated with daily stretching and exercise. When I hurt my back years ago, I found riding my horse at the walk started me on the road to recovery. Upon mounting and walking I could feel everything just stretching with the horses movement. It was wonderful.

As I got more mobile I added walking myself.

Now I make sure to walk daily for my exercise and that makes all the difference for me.

Get a doctor involved and see what your actual issue is.