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When horse riding, we use a large variety of muscles at one time. 
Probably the most important group of muscles used during horse riding is our core muscles. In this blog, we explore the main core and stabilising muscles used whilst riding. We’ll explain how if there’s disfunction or weakness through these muscles it will affect the performance of both horse and rider. 

Transverse Abdominus 

This muscle helps stabilise between your hips, your ribs, and your pelvis. This muscle is an extremely important muscle that acts as a stabiliser for the entire lower back. It’s one of the main core stabilising muscles of the lumbar spine. A weak transverse muscle is often one of the many reasons people may experience lower back pain when riding. 


These are our turning muscles. The obliques are vitally important for keeping ourselves evenly stacked upon the horse. Weak oblique muscles may cause the rider to tip to one side whilst riding causing an imbalance and compensatory issues for horse and rider. 


The psoas is one of the most important hip flexor muscles involved during riding. Its function is to flex and laterally rotate your pelvis. It also has a role in flexing your spine sideways as well as extending and rotating it. As its prime function during riding is to stabilise the forward and backward movement of the pelvis, any restriction or tightness will prevent the pelvis and lumbar region from shock absorbing any movement from the horse. 


Another hip flexor muscle working in partnership with the psoas, the iliacus helps release the movement of the horse below the rider. 


This muscle attaches to the front of your sacrum and to the top of your femur. Together with the Psoas this muscle this helps rotate and extend your hips as well as internally rotate and flex the pelvis. Tight or restricted piriformis muscles will be identified when riding by feeling an imbalance in the saddle or a tipping to one side. Usually riders will have a tighter piriformis on once side. 

Gluteus Maximus and Glute Medius 

These muscles help control the balance of your pelvis. When tight, this can inhibit the horse’s balance. When weak, this can affect the rider’s balance within the saddle. If this muscle is weak or not controlled, movements such as sitting trot will be difficult and will cause tension and engagement to the adductor muscles in an attempt to stabilise the rider. 

Quadratus Lumborum 

This attaches to the bottom rib and to your lumbar vertebrae as well as the back of your pelvis. This has a major influence on how you move, stand, and ride your horse. This is a lateral flexor which means it has the control of whether you tip or rock to one side in the saddle. 
As a rider it’s important to be aware of any slight imbalances or weaknesses you may have whilst riding. Not only do they have an effect on your own performance but that of your horse. 
If you experience regular discomfort or injury when you ride, we can help. By visiting Fire & Earth and having regular sports massage sessions you can not only improve your own riding but improve the overall health, wellbeing, and performance of your horse. 
Tagged as: core, horse riding, muscles
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