No matter what age we are, if we have had a break from riding when our horse has been recuperating from an injury or had a spell from training, we can all feel stiff and sore from the inflammatory response triggered by working our muscles again.
Liver herbs for muscles
In Chinese medicine the liver is closely linked to the ligaments and tendons.
For your horse having a simple addition of Dandelion root powder and rosehip granules added to his feed at 1 to 2 heaped tablespoons will help with keeping tendons and ligaments less prone to tightening, and also help with horses prone to Azoturia.
If a horse has had injuries, then herbs like gotu kola can help with collagen regeneration, chamomile can assist with feeding magnesium into muscle spasms, and yarrow and nettle can help with stiff joints.
After that first ride ache
No matter your age, a ride in the saddle after a break can have you wake up the next morning stiff and sore. To help with minimising this you can prepare your liver to be ready for the lactic acid spike. You will still feel some soreness, but less likely to be as restricted in your movement if you start preparing a few days ahead of time by adding some liver herbs to a morning smoothie.
Start with a morning smoothie three days before your ride and include some dark green vegetables. Broccoli sprouts are particularly high in anti inflammatory properties if you can grow your own or source some powdered. Add to your mix small teaspoons of St Marys Thistle, Dandelion Root and Turmeric powder.
The day after your ride focus on getting plenty of vitamin C into your body to flush out the residual lactic acid, a fresh juice made from fresh lemons and oranges with 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and ¼ teaspoon of ginger powder will help with your recovery.
Older stiffening joints
In Winter if both the horse and rider are a bit stiff, the rider will benefit from a cup of ginger tea before they ride, and the horse with either a teaspoon of ginger powder in their morning feed, or a secondary water bucket with some sliced up fresh ginger added daily. The ginger will warm the body from within and is traditionally for arthritis.
As a daily ritual, there is also the more heroic taste of apple cider vinegar in water to begin your day which has a similar effect. If you have ongoing aches and pains, lemon juice first thing in water can help with alkalising the body.
With the quality of herbs that suppliers like Country Park Animal Herbs source, you can skim off a cup of your horse’s bag of herbs and use yourself.
Stretching yourself for getting back into the saddle
Warming up your body with stretches before you ride can help reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself. The hamstrings down the back of your legs are pivotal to how you hold yourself when riding and if these get tight can also affect your lower back. Stretching cold muscles can be as harmful as not stretching at all. If you have been fetching your horse from the paddock and saddling up, this is the time to stretch as your muscles will be warm
Target areas you feel tight when you stretch, try to stretch against a firm wall or stable bench, and start out slowly by doing three stretches that you hold for about twenty seconds. If it is painful to stretch, stop. These muscles may need a massage before you try to stretch again.
Don’t forget to do some stretches once you return to the tack room while your muscles are still warm. Stretching after a ride is just as valuable as doing so before.
There are now pilates and yoga specialists available to assist that have a good working knowledge of the stresses horse riding place on the human body.
Massage, your passive exercise
Massage before returning to riding can help prepare your muscles for use. The passive movements and stretches by a massage therapist can elongate ‘stuck’ fibres and be useful in preparation for a ride. If you are sore after your first ride back, wait three days before having a massage, recirculating the acidic toxins in your body cab cause nauseas or migraines. In those three days, drink plenty fo water and enjoy your liver cleansing smoothies.
Preparing yourself and your horse before you return to the saddle with herbs, juices and body work are simple ways you can reduce ‘after ride’ aches.