How I Beat Riding’s Aches and Pains

You share your secrets for preventing or dealing with the soreness that comes from saddle time.
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The key thing is to ride regularly. I get stiff only when I let a week or more go in between rides. Riding keeps me in good shape for riding—and soreness to a minimum.

Credit: Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

Credit: Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

Anita Moore Chapman, Michigan

Don’t ride on a cheap saddle! On a well-made saddle with proper cushioning and a well-fitting, comfy seat, you’re much less likely to get sore in the first place.

Laurie Hamilton, Kentucky

I’m 56 and kept getting sore in my seat bones and hip joints. A gel/fleece comfort cushion over the seat of my saddle made a noticeable difference. Plus it makes me feel so pampered!

Jennifer Morales, Oklahoma

My solution? Ride a “smoothie”—a Tennessee Walking Horse, Missouri Fox Trotter, or some other gaited breed. I used to be a Quarter Horse gal, but in my golden years, I’m riding a Walker. Big, big difference.

Jane Tremblay, Montana

Growing old together, my gelding and I both had leg problems and stiffness. Sound at the walk, he wouldn’t trot or take both leads at the canter. I had knee and back pain. Then I discovered hyaluronic acid. Now he trots, canters, and bucks for fun. It’s approved for people too, so we both take HA and ride out pain-free!

Cindy Hartman, Oregon

How you ride can make or “break” you, so to speak. I’ve learned to let my weight truly sink down into my heels, so my ankles can share the work of shock-absorption with my other leg joints and help protect my spine from too much concussion. I got this tip from my (older) trainer, who knows whereof she speaks.

Chris Sampson, Nevada

You can’t beat a soak in a hot bath right after riding, before soreness sets in. Toss in a little Epsom salts for good measure.

Mary Ellen Hill, California

I swear by the soothing powers of arnica, a homeopathic medicine that comes from a plant (arnica montana) in Europe. It gives quick relief from muscle aches, stiffness, bruising, and swelling. It should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet and emergency kit.

Carol Jones, Ontario, Canada

There are shock-absorbing stirrups that help, and I especially like the cushy inserts you can add to your regular stirrups. You choose the degree of compression, light or firm, that works for you. I’m a roper, and these inserts make it possible for me to enjoy my sport.

Tony Richardson, New Mexico

I avoid getting sore by staying as fit and flexible as I can, in and out of the saddle. When I stretch, I pay particular attention to my hamstrings, which tend to tighten up in riders and can cause knee pain.

Annie Owen, New Jersey

I loosen up my joints and warm my muscles before each ride by doing part of my horse’s warm-up in hand. Yep—we both jog around the arena before I mount up. People think I’m nuts…but it works.

Cynthia Jackson, Alabama