Rider Fitness | One Sided Rider Dominance- What You Can Do About It.

As promised, I have put a little article together with a video to show just one of the techniques that is used with the equestrian athletes to help prevent or reduce one sided rider dominance.

One Sided Rider Dominance- What You Can Do About It.

What Is One Sided Rider Dominance?

A lot of equestrians are now becoming well aware of the need to be balanced in the saddle, not only  to look after the soundness of themselves but also their horse. As human beings we are neurologically pre disposed to favour one side. Our bodies are very good at adapting to this, but when we ride, the effects are translated directly to the horse. So, now comes the ‘buzz’ phrase at the moment, ‘one sided rider dominance’.

This really refers to the way in which you are sending messages to your horse, if you are right handed, whether you like it or not, you will most definitely influence your horse on that side, just as you would if one of your legs was stronger than the other.

It is through the hip and leg that the majority of one sided rider dominance occurs.
Rider Fitness - One sided rider dominance


So How Can You Tell If You Are One Sided?

Many equestrian athletes are using an assessment by means of a video. They will film themselves going down a straight line, normally in an arena and they will look for one foot lower than the other. You may also notice a lean and uneven shoulder height as a compensatory effect. Whilst filming yourself take a look at the position from behind as well. Take photographs from behind when seated and pay attention to the line of your spine with the middle of the saddle.


Ask yourself these questions;


1.       Do Your Hips Rotate In The Saddle?

2.       Is One Leg Longer Than The Other?

3.       Is One Hip Higher Than The Other?

4.       Is There A Lean Of The Upper Body?

5.       Is There Rotation Of The Upper Body?


How Does It Affect The Rider?

If you suspect that you have a dominant side based upon the above criteria. I would suggest that you check the relationship between the top of each Iliac crest (top of pelvis). With one sided dominance I commonly see a Lateral pelvic tilt when against a plumb line. You will find that one side of the lower back will tend to be painful after or during riding and maybe one of your stirrup leathers is longer than the other?


Rider Fitness - Lateral Pelvic Tilt
Lateral Pelvic Tilt-


The knock on effect of this is tight adductors (inner thigh) on the high side and weak abductors (outside of hip) on the same side. The quadratus lomburum (a lower back muscle) on the high side will also be tight. On the low side you will have weak and long quadratus lomburum and abductors.


So How Does It Affect The Horse?

Obviously I am an exercise professional not a horse physiotherapist, but I have read around this area and found an interesting article by Ute Miethe. The article outlined many dysfunctions caused by one sided dominance including ,
  • Increased Muscle development on one side
  • Lameness and poor tracking of hind legs
  • Wearing of the hoof on one foot more so than the other.


I would encourage you to take a look at this article when you get a moment.


What To Do About It?


Before you begin static stretching to inhibit the over active adductors and strengthening work on the long and weak abductors, you need to confirm that this isn’t just a leg length discrepancy.


To do this, assume a wide stance. This will shorten the abductors on both sides levelling out the pelvis.


So you now need to perform a static stretch on the side of the tight (high) adductors for 20 seconds, then perform some myofascial release ( foam roller) , searching from adhesions in the adductors. Once you have done this you then need to stretch again for 20s. Re-check the pelvis, you may well find that this has levelled the pelvis out already.


I have made a video demonstration of this which can be found HERE.


I hope that you have found this useful and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

My best,


The Equestrian Athlete Coach


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