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Weak Leg due to Nerve Compression

Hi there - Does anyone here have an issue with a significantly weaker side and have suggestions to improve that work?

I have nerve compression from a herniation (not horse related) and cannot feel my left leg. It swings significantly. Right leg, is great no issues. My horse is forgiving but is young and impressionable so I do have trainer rides to help. I rarely canter at the moment as that motion creates significant swing.

I have been doing physio and strengthening exercises for 2+ years to no effect. Have had spinal injections for pain management. Swinging will be worse after injections as there is almost no feeling from thigh downwards.

Has anyone just had their saddle modified to help correct a deficiency? I was avoiding this as it seemed like “cheating” but after years of no improvement I was thinking this might be the only way to help stabilize the leg.

Thank you.

Can you tighten the muscle on the top of the front of your thigh, the rectus femoris?

That is how I got my lower legs to stop swinging. I have MS, no proprioceptive sense, I cannot always feel my legs, bad balance, difficulties with coordination, and my legs are WEAK.

Sometimes I feel like my foot is too far forward, but it seems that my riding teacher thinks that is better than my leg swinging &/or staying too far back.

I am 71 and have severe stenosis L4/5 and both of my legs/feet are numb/tingly, pretty much all the time when I’m standing/walking/riding. I
I ride my young mare in a dressage saddle with fairly large thigh blocks (Custom Solo) and they really do help steady my legs stay in place.
I ride the pony in a smaller saddle with smaller blocks (Prestige Lucky Dressage) and I think I am not as solid in that one, especially sitting trot.

Thanks I can tighten the upper thigh the result seemed to be more of a chair seat with the left leg forward. Perhaps it is better than swinging but I felt having the unevenness (right leg more back by girth left leg closer to horse’s shoulder) was impacting overall seat and balance.

Can I ask, how do you manage your balance? Do you try to even out your sides? (if this question makes sense?). Its a struggle for sure but its a passion! :slight_smile: thank you

thank you! I have a saddle fit appointment pending so I’m going to bring this up as an option. did you put the same blocks on both sides?

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OK, the book I got this from was “Riding and Schooling Horses” by Harry D. Chamberlin, an officer in the US Cavalry. On page 64 he has these sentences, “It is most important that the heels remain forced far down, and the knees remain almost completely relaxed, so that the calves of the legs may constantly rest against the horse. The knees are not entirely limp, however, as that would permit the lower legs to slip backward out of position.”

He also has the rider ride with the stirrup “home” which helps keep the stirrup leather vertical instead of slanting forward.

I, for one, cannot handle riding with my stirrups home, the arches of my feet start protesting big time. To counter-act the chair seat I get my seat as for forward in the saddle as I can, which necessitates keeping my knees DOWN. One good thing about having my feet that far forward AND my knees down is that my riding teacher is happier with my heels being down. For this to really work you have to tense this muscle on BOTH thighs or it will increase unevenness and get you out of balance.

Reading this about the knees and working on it has stopped the constant complaining from my riding teacher on how my legs swing too far back. More often than not she is much happier with my lower legs. I had to experiment to figure out which thigh muscle I needed to have some tension in, and it is just some tension, to keep my lower legs from swinging back. I am NOT gripping with my knees, which by itself also sends the lower leg back (pivoting on the knees.) My riding teacher keeping her eye on my lower leg while I experimented with figuring this out was very helpful.

I did have to play with it before I got it working halfway decently.

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My saddle came with the blocks on both sides - it wasn’t specially manufactured for me this way.

You may want to work with one of the para dressage coaches for ideas on how to manage the issues…you can potentially apply for compensating aids (such as a strap from the stirrup leather to the girth or magnetic stirrups), even if you are/aren’t classified. USEF has information about classification and dispensations on the website. But you have to provide the medical documentation to show there is a reason for asking for the aids. You can also just look at some of the compensating aids and try them…you only need approval to use them if you are showing. If you aren’t showing, then there are quite a few options for stabilizing the leg that are used by the para riders.