Wait. Did you say riding makes my back better?

This is a short follow-up on an earlier blog on lower back pain and disk degeneration.

I thought, how can so many of us (myself included) suffer from lower back pain when the MRI results show no difference?! Can the problem really be the wheel barrel we push, or the poop we pick up, the studs we place on our horses shoes as they nibble our shirts and try to free their foot?

It can’t be that simple.

My intuition keeps saying: there is an art behind the science of movement.

What I found?

  1. In 1997 we had the belief that, when riding, the horse walking gait created similar pelvic and torso movements to the human walking gait.


Therefor, this is the reason why we think Equine Assisted Therapy will help children who have underdeveloped muscles and can’t walk.


  1. A Swedish study took 24 women who were disabled due to their lower back pain. They concluded that walking on horseback twice a week, for 3.5 months decreased muscle tension, improved sleep, mobility balance and body control.


Note : no conflict of interest was stated but many factors make me doubt the objectivity of the study even though it is peer reviewed; the environment wasn’t controlled nor we’re the subjects randomized or compared to a control group.


  1. An interesting study was conducted with a mechanical horse at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Over 6-8 weeks, six able-bodied children used a horse stimulator at a walk, sitting trot, rising trot and canter. None of the children suffered lower back pain like what us older folks do. Nonetheless they were able to objectify the true, genuine lower body motions that occur when riding. They confirmed it; human pelvic motions when walking or when riding a horse are both similar except the timing of the motion is off. With a quadruped your hip swing happens in a slower motion than when you walk.


Could that mean that fast, small step walkers could have trouble adapting to horseback riding? Or maybe that people with smaller legs could benefit from riding smaller horses in order to facilitate the job their muscles must do to stabilize their lower backs?

Take home message? Being aware and mindful will always be the most effective precautionary measure to avoid injury.

There is an art behind the science of movement.

Please remember that I am not one to place a diagnosis and to tell you how to treat your condition. I am just a fool for science.

Please email me if ever you have a specific subject that you wish for us to address.


Have a happy and wonderful day,

Ariel and SweetPea


Yoo, J.-H. et al. “The Effect Of Horse Simulator Riding On Visual Analogue Scale, Body Composition And Trunk Strength In The Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain”. International Journal of Clinical Practice 68.8 (2014): 941-949. Web.


Håkanson, Margareta et al. “The Horse As The Healer—A Study Of Riding In Patients With Back Pain”. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 13.1 (2009): 43-52. Web.


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