Hey Ladies! Cerice here. I'm taking full credit for this post, since it requires a certain... inside perspective.
Over the past two days at Equine Affaire, I have been watching women of various skill levels and disciplines ride in clinics on some pretty fancy horses, with some very talented clinicians. As a woman, and a teacher I find myself cringing in sympathetic discomfort as I watch women go bouncing past, yes in that way. As a woman with an ample enough bosom, I can speak from experience and say with sincerity, "Save The Ta-tas!"
It doesn't matter if you ride on a trail horse, a dressage horse, a western pleasure horse, or a smooth gaited tolting machine; if you are on a horse your girls need a lot of extra support. Aesthetics aside, there are some very important reasons why all women who are larger busted than an A cup need the most support they can get. We're talking about damage control, center of gravity improvement, better balance, relief of back pain, and making your horse's job easier. All that from making sure your girls are snug and secure!
Even a little bit of bouncing around from the movement of a horse underneath us is enough to cause soft tissue damage. To put it mildly, if they're bouncing enough for you to notice, you are potentially doing damage. A good, and I mean REALLY good sports bra is going to give you enough support that you can ride the most god awful, hollow backed, peg legged, trot all day. You may not have any teeth left in your head, but your girls won't feel a thing.
The right sports bra will also lift your bosom up and strap it in snugly enough to your chest, that your center of gravity will move further in to the core of your body. In essence, you won't be weighted down in the front. This will make it easier for you to open up your shoulders, straighten your upper back, sit deeper in the saddle, and be able to follow your horse's movement with a lot more ease. It's sad but true, that sometimes our choice of bras can really drag us down.
With our two nearest and dearest friends safely and securely buckled in for the ride, this allows for our balance to improve, and may even result in lower back, shoulder, and hip pain and strain lessening. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to relax more in the saddle and not have to reposition ourselves in an attempt to alleviate this or that stiff muscle? It might be just as simple as changing your bra!
With all this improvement in center of gravity, balance, and relaxation we'll also be making it easier for our horse to balance and support us. Every time we shift or get tight in the saddle, we're changing the balance of the horse as well. When we're stiff, we impede their ability to move freely. When we're uncomfortable, they're uncomfortable. Really, it all comes down to this, if you love your horse support your ta-tas.
How do you find this magic undergarment you ask? It really comes down to trial and error. Be determined. Take your best girlfriend with you, and go to the mall or department store. Be resolved to try on as many bras as it takes. I personally have spent hundreds of dollars searching for a sports bra that was comfortable enough to ride in, and that also gave me the support I needed. Now I'm not going to get too personal here, but suffice to say that I need a good bit of support. After trying on, and unfortunately buying dozens of sports bras (some claiming to be specifically for the equestrian woman's needs), I struck gold. For me, the Champion Shape Scoop-Back Full-Figure Underwire Sports Bra (pictured above) does the trick. In the dressing room, it passed the most rigorous jumping up and down I could manage, and in the saddle it holds up (no pun intended) to some really awful bouncy warmblood trotting (no I don't just ride Icelandics). I'm not saying that this bra will work for you, but I am saying find something that does. It is a life changing experience.
What you choose to do with your horse's winter hoof care really depends on a couple of things. Do you plan on riding a lot? Will you be riding mostly indoors, outdoors, in the snow, on rough terrain? The shoes are mainly there to protect your horse's hooves and give them added traction. We'll cover some points to consider when deciding what route to take with your horse's hoof care, but also recommend consulting with your regular hoof care professional. Your farrier or trimmer will have a good idea of the condition of your horse's hooves and their material, in order to help you make an informed decision.
If you plan on riding mostly indoors on soft, groomed footing, or not riding much at all, it can be good to give your horse some time without shoes if the hoof material and toughness will support that. Some benefits of giving your horse some barefoot time include allowing the hoof to expand and toughen up, particularly in the sole. If your horse is on pads regularly, some time without them will allow the hoof to breath and with treatment may help reduce or eliminate any possible bacterial development like thrush.
If your horse has poor hoof material or very sensitive hooves, going barefoot may not be the best choice. The hard ground in the winter can add to breakage and chipping, and could cause the tender-footed horse un-necessary pain, bruising, and possibly accesses. This will vary on a case by case basis. Sometimes going barefoot can help toughen the sole and develop calluses that may alleviate some sensitivity. This is something you should discuss with your hoof care provider.
If you plan to keep your horse on shoes in the winter, they NEED studs for traction and pads to help prevent the development of snow balls. Shoes without traction are dangerously slippery. Snow balls and ice build up inside the hoof, and can cause tendon and ligament injuries, bruising, and further inhibits traction. Discuss with your hoof care provider what kind of riding and terrain you plan on encountering so that they can give your horse an appropriate amount and type of traction on the shoes. Snow ball pads are either a rim pad around the inside of the shoe, or full rubber pads that have a rounded part in the middle. Both types work well.
If you've ever had to soak your horse's hoof, you more than likely know the frustration that you both can face with trying to keep their hoof in a bucket of water and medications or cleaning products. This technique may save you and your horse from the chaos that can arise from trying to soak their hoof. Watch this video and see for yourself! Happy Soaking!
Empty IV Fluid Bag (You can get this used from your local veterinary hospital)
Very warm water
Medicated products or cleansing products
Vet Wrap, Duct Tape, or Elasticon
Just For You!
Pangaea Equestrian Services provides tips, tricks, and thoughts on care, training, and discussion topics for our friends in the horse world.