The Rider’s Mind Podcast Episode 108: Conversation with Keira Forsyth from Equus Physio


Here on the Rider’s Mind Podcast, we talk a lot about our minds and how what we have going on up top impacts our horses.  Today we are taking a different twist and talking with physiotherapist Keira Forsyth from Equus Physio about how the rider’s body and potential asymmetries impact the horse.  Interestingly enough,  working on our bodies also benefits the mind!

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Episode Transcript:

Michelle: I am looking forward to this conversation today with Keira Forsyth of Equus Physio out of Cochrane, Alberta. We have connected with her today to talk a little bit about our bodies, how our bodies and how our alignment, you’ll have to fill me in on the terminology, maybe impacting our horses, and then how we know if that’s happening and what we can do about it. So, Keira, if you would tell me a little bit about yourself, equus physio, and how you came specialize in riders?

Keira: Well, thank you so much for having me on your podcast. I feel honored to start off with. So thank you a little bit about myself. So I am a registered physiotherapist. I have my masters in rehabilitation sciences, in physical therapy, which I got from the University of Alberta, and I am an avid horse lover rider. I feel like the reason I learned how to read was reading classified ads in the newspaper because I wanted a horse so bad and I have that horse gene and I think anyone that has that horse gene is just built a little bit differently and we’re wired differently and it’s just in us. So when I first day of classes at university, they go around and ask you why you’re there and I initially said you know I’m there. I want was really interested in back. My dad has fractured his back multiple times throughout his life. Rehab wasn’t an option and I think, like many people, drugs were given instead of rehab and that really had an impact on my life. So that’s the story why I got into physiotherapy initially. However, as we went around the room, this other individual put up her hand and said: why are you here? And she’s like I want to do animal rehab work on horses and the dean said this program is for humans and everybody laughed and Sandro, who is my business partner, said: yep, I know. In that moment there I was like I need to go and talk to that girl. So the next class I walked up to her and was like: tell me more. What does this animal rehab? And Sandra’s story, they’re based out of Cochrane Alberta as well. They had a farm here and her mom rode at the highest level of dressage at that time and her stud, which was her main competition horse, got injured and that came out and said he’s done. We can either put him out to pasture or we can kind of put him down and her mum didn’t accept that as an answer because her mum also had sciatic pain at that time, went to physio, got better and she said there must be something else. The vet said, well, there might be, but I don’t know who don’t know what that would be. So they ended up finding physiotherapist who was trained in the UK, Leslie, who has still been a pivotal part of the Equus process. She’s lovely and they came and they rehabbed their stud back, not to competition but to be able to breed. And long story short remembers hanging on that fence and knowing exactly what she wanted to do in life. And long story short kind of saved their income. And that’s kind of where Equus started, and we always say that Sandra and Keira have this love story that started way back in physio school on day number one and it’s it’s just snowballed, truly truly truly has snowballed into this amazing thing that we have in Cochrane right now. So we’re regular physiotherapy clinic work on all injuries, just regular things. If you sprained your ankle, your wrist, you can come in and car accidents, but truly our passion is riders and horses and everyone that works in our clinic. We all have horses, we know we have that jane and that’s really what we strive, really a paradigm shift to change. You know, not always have our horses just worked on but asked as riders as well, because 90% of the time I think we are the reason that our horses have dysfunctions, not necessarily the horse themselves. So long-winded answer is how Equus came about and why we’re so passionate about what here.

Michelle: I love that. That’s also it’s like the stars aligned that you girls were both in that same first year class. To start this and to follow your decision through like this is pretty awesome.

Keira: Yes, and originally when, when I graduated, I was still in Edmonton and Sandra was down in Calgary and I moved down here. And just like you want to meet up for for an adult beverage, I’ll say, and I was like yeah, for sure. And honestly, I still have the napkin from Richmond Pub that has all of our initial colors. We want to be red, we want to be bold, we want to be in people’s faces, to know that we’re here and we’re real and all of our honestly, our business plan. I still have it on this napkin. I think that’s pretty cool.

Michelle: Love that! Yeah, super. Tell me about some of the imbalances a rider might have that will show up in the horses or that connection that you see, what are some common things?

Keira: Okay, I’ll actually preface it a little bit. Even more background is we do rider clinics where we go out and we watch, we watch you ride your horse. So straight to the point we pick apart of the horse, we pick apart the rider in that ten to 15 minutes that we’re kind of looking at what’s going on. We no longer do clinics together were like one physio will come out and do it. However, the last physio clinic that Sandra and I did together, we decided that we wouldn’t share our notes on the horse or the rider until the end of the treatment session, and what we found is that 90% of the horses and riders have the exact same dysfunctions. So out of those. So at the end of the treatment I’d be like, hey, Sandra, I worked on the Human C 4 5 6. She’s like I worked on the right side of the horse 4 5 6, so that would be the neck. Or I worked on the right hip, on the human well, actually worked on the right hip on the horse. So in 90% of those parts had the exact same disfunction going on and we truly feel like the rider made those dissymmetry come up the one pair of that ten percent that didn’t have the same disfunction. The horse was actually neurologic, so obviously we’re not expecting that if the horse does have some neurologic issues that the humans going to have MS or Parkinson’s or something like that, but very, very, very interesting. And I think it just sparks our passion a little bit more, as when we see all these things coming up at the exact same time. So some similarities we would have like truly like neck pain. So if the right side of my neck on myself is not, it’s in pain or it’s not communicating properly with my right arm, because we have these nerves that go from our neck down our arm. So if this arm is not working, the way that it should be, we’re also seeing that that horse is going to have some asymmetries in its neck too. We might be pulling a little bit harder on that rein to stabilize ourselves. We might be jerking more, so that would be a common one. Hip flexor, so tight hip flexors in the rider means that we’re going to be a little bit more anterior forward posture. So I’m going to say in general terms more of that hunter posture right. So our horse is going to be more on its forehand. So putting them on their forehand, same with us if our glutes aren’t firing appropriate. So that’s a really big one that we see is that if my right glute isn’t firing appropriately, my horse might be cross firing on the back because I’m not being able to engage that tell their motor to go and they’re not getting that proper cue. So that’s another common one as well. If our hip maybe is a little bit misaligned. So a little bit more anterior forward in the socket than it should be to optionally mobilized. We’re also going to see some back pain and stuff in the horse and again there back pain in the rider definitely definitely definitely comes up as some back pain in that horse. So if we’re not able to sit in that seat nice and smooth and really move with the horse, the horse is going to be getting a little bit more of that jarring in their saddle or bareback. And then they’re going to be picking up that compensation pattern, and super common, for riders to be very sore at L4/5 and that lumbar spine. And that’s also a very, very, very common area for the horses to be sore as well. So right back where that saddle kind of stops and is sitting

Michelle: Very interesting. We as riders tend to do all the therapies and all the things for the horses to keep them in line or in condition or happy and meanwhile to the root of the problem. The source is actually us. And so what is what’s happening within the horse that is causing them to do this? Like? Are they looking always balanced themselves, but we’re not balanced, they’re compensating for us or what’s happening there?

Keira: Well, I think I think what happens is so. You put you’re putting this human on this horse who truly should be fairly balanced themselves right. So let’s take the glute example that my right glute is not working very well. So I’m actually going to be sliding to that right hand side of my saddle because that glut’s not going to keep me aligned. I’m then probably going to be lifting that that other leg up on the left hand side to kind of control myself. My hip flexor is going to be shortening on that side as well. So as I’m totally shifting to that right hand side, thinking I’m balanced and sitting up nice and square, because the upper part of my body might be, because my glutes will be to the right and my upper body I’ll be to the left. So I still think that I’m in the middle and that horse underneath me is having more weight on that right hand side, so they’re going to be having to shift over. So I feel like a lot of the stuff that we’re treating in these horses. The horses are truly trying to balance us out and what is happening on top of them. So that’s where a lot of those, their ailments, their asymmetries and stuff, come from. Truly is he then balancing us out, and I think if we could put a little bit of time and money into ourselves, we will save so much, not just necessarily rehab or maintenance on that horse, but we’re also going to make that horse last so much longer because they’re not overcompensating for all, for all our mistakes. Right, and and I also think we’re going to do so much better in the show ring. You know we’re going to clock better on that barrel pattern because that horse is going to be able to go out there and show its stuff, it’s not going have to worry about what, what we’re doing to make them slower, not jump as high or stop or or whatever sport we may be doing.

Michelle: Yeah, I imagine they, yeah, exactly like what you say is  they can focus on their own job instead of trying to scoop us up, to try and keep us in the middle.

Keira: Yea, yea, truly really really really think that they’re just trying to balance us out, and so the more equal in balance that we can be in that saddle or in that seat, the better our horse is going to perform and truly the less money that we’re going to have to be putting into them to keep their maintenance down as well.

Michelle: So are there any quick ways or short assessments that a rider could do to really see how? I wanted to say crooked, but maybe in balance? Because I see that when I’m watching some other people I’m like how are they riding like that? Their saddle is way off to the side, but they must not feel that I recognize that. So is there something that we can do? As riders to kind of do a self check, to know like, yeah, you should make an appointment?

Keira: Well, Michelle, I think you said one right there and a common one is. I keep on adjusting my saddle. So are you always feeling that you need to put a little bit more weight into your left hand, like your left stirrup to kind of balance your saddle out? So it’s sitting straight with your horse and I think if that’s one thing they’re always trying to, you know, shift that saddle to say equally probably your glutes aren’t firing appropriately on one side, much weaker. So that would be an easy one. Right there are you having to train, cannot constantly, but maybe even three or four times throughout your ride, shifting your sale to make sure that it’s sitting equal with that wither one. The next one is: do either your pant legs ever twist when you’re riding or for english writers, do we have more wear on the leather on one side or the inside of our boots? So when, when that pant leg is twisting, we’re trying to compensate, to try to stay square in that saddle. So twisting of that pant leg in those jeans, or wear more wear on your leather on one side and your boot. So that’s another one to see that we’re not going to be equal in that saddle and then another one is watch your videos. Get someone to take some some snapshots, have you and it can be. Something simple is just, you know, get someone to video, you walk from behind and look at yourself and like, have, don’t have a baggy sweater on or anything, just have your regular clothes tucked in and look at where the middle of your back is or the middle of your glutes, your bum. And where is that in the middle of your saddle? And where is that in the middle of your horse? So does it look like you’re shifted more to the right? Does it look like you’re shifted more to the left? And even if you’re off just by a centimeter or two, that’s going to give us a good indication that somewhere there’s an asymmetry and that we should really be looking to balance that out, to help you in your riding. And so are these super easy ones.

Michelle: Yeah, that’s awesome. So how how does that work then to balance this out? If I come and have my appointment, what are we doing? Stretches, strengthening, what all is happening?

Keira: Well it’s probably plethra of that. So one, it depends on what is going on right, the treatment isn’t going to be the same for each rider. And I think that’s the cool thing about physiotherapy. Is we really give you individualized treatment treatments and what your take home program is going to be, but a very generalised. We’re going to run you through a series of movements to see where you do have asymmetries. Are you tighter in certain areas? Are you weaker in certain areas? And then noting that, all down from that, some common treatment techniques that we do our manipulations? So does it feel like your hips are moving equally on each side? Do we need to manipulate? And that would be kind of like a little bit of a chiropractic would be the common term. If someone’s going to kind of crack a little, it doesn’t have to be a crack, but somewhere along there. So some joint manipulations, a really great one for the riders, and I truly do feel like my riders have a higher pain tolerance and can handle stuff. So we do tend to do a lot of biomechanical dry needling. So that means, if a muscle is tighter, that needling can help relax that muscle or if that muscles not firing, we can needle it to try and get it to turn on, so it becomes stronger. And that’s one that I found for my riders is instantaneously, I can, you know, need all their glute meat and they get back on that horse and they’re like, oh, I didn’t realize that my goods actually work this way and my horse is feeling so much different. So dry needling. Cupping is a good thing, that we do as well. And then of course we have shockwave ultrasound laser and of course are, as my mentor would say, magic hands or magic hand to do some stuff, some techniques with their hands, to try and get everything working as optimally as possible. So even though we have all of that stuff in the clinic, I truly feel like the best thing that your physio can give for you is a home-based exercise program that’s specialized to you, not a generic one, but really on where our symmetries are dysfunctions or imbalances, and that you know we are the coach. But truly you’re the athlete and you go home and try and put that into play, because some of us may ride eight horses a day and be in the saddle for eight to ten hours and other people may just be for an hour. But what are you doing that rest of that time throughout that day? So I think the more that we can make those changes outside of the saddle, the faster it’s going to be in the saddle that we actually see those positive changes happening. So making sure that you’re keeping up with that rehab program to try and either maybe your hamstrings tight. We need to stretch it and maybe your glute needs to strengthen on the other side. So really making sure we put in the effort outside the saddle to make sure those changes really happen. We’re sitting in that seat. So some common things, I think there and sorry, I’m going off topic, but some little things that you know. How do you get up off your chair? Are you always having one leg back versus the other one? Or are you always kind of going off to the side? So when you get out of the chair, make sure that it’s kind of like you’re posting trot that you’re getting up equal out of that. So how do you get off your chair? How are you sitting when you’re driving your vehicle? Are you always scooched to the middle console or you always leaning on the window? Because I almost guarantee how you’re sitting in your seat on the way to the competition, as how you’re going to sit on that horse when you get to your competition or your weekend trail ride right? I think that is also very important that we’re not just focusing on our competition horses, but all horses and riders are equal there and then another one, and I’m sorry, this may be a little bit much for some people, but how are you getting off the toilet? Because we’re sitting in that kind of posting position right. So really make being sure that when you get off those things that we do multiple times a day that you are being equal and balanced. So when we get on to that saddle we’re equal in balance for our horse and those little things are going to make huge changes in your riding. That honestly I think, are invaluable.

Michelle: I can see that almost like habit stacking is coming to mind right and just like that awareness, talk about the awareness of the mind and the way you’re speaking to yourself, the way you’re treating yourself. You’re going about having that body awareness too important, and I was smiling big as you were talking about checking yourself when you’re driving, because I know there’s going to be a lot of people listening to this while driving and they’re probably sitting up straight right now.

Keira: That’s that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful and I think even 1 thing is because, well, not all of us. Some of us do ride with one hand right, but when riding with two hands, because that’s going to translate down to the mouth, down to the neck, down to those front legs it is one of our hands was more dominant than the other one. So starting to do more things like brushing our teeth, brushing our hair, you know, stirring the pasta with our non dominant hand to make it to make us more symmetrical, so that we’re more symmetrical when we’re riding right, even brushing, making sure that we’re not always brushing with our right hand. But when we go to the opposite side to its going to take us a little bit longer, let’s brush out with that left hand and still get that same flick so that we can be more equal when we get on to our horse. And honestly, I think our horses are really going to thank us for that.

Michelle: Kind of get that undo your twist, like if we’re always reaching for the fart hings with our right hand. If our right hands, our dominant hand, we’re going to be more flexible almost that one on that one side and create shortening on the other by not using it. That’s a brilliant idea: to try and balance yourself up with the things you’re doing anyway, just having the awareness to do it differently,

Keira: Exactly exactly, and even things like saddle from the opposite side. We no longer carry around swords and things like we’re not fighting in, like in medieval war. We don’t have this sword and that’s truly why we are always getting on that the left hand side of that horse. So let’s try and saddle from the right hand side. Try and get on from your right hand side. I still remember once I was I was at jumper show and I got on my horse from from their right hand side and this girl looked over at me. She’s like you must be a western rider and but you know, if I ever fall off in the middle of a trail I want to and I break an arm, I want to make sure I can get on my horse both sides because I need to get back on that horse to get home. So I think those things are like they’re just important to be able to do and especially in safety situation. And then the other thing: even try. And like rope halters, I think are easier because you can flip them around or the halters, you have the buckles on both sides. Try and lead your horse a lot more on their right hand side with our left hand and even circle the different way, getting into the stalls or the paddocks, because I’ve talked with numerous farriers and we have more suspensory injuries because we’re always turning that, usually always turning that horse on that left hand side right. So if we just even turning them more, the opposite direction, I think that’s going to maintain their ligaments and tendons, more too. We’re not putting more and more stress on that. So just another little little tidbit.

Michelle: I think it’s probably good for a person’s brain too, just so that you’re not stuck in one neural connection, training it to go other ways too, like to keep that flexibility.

Keira: Everywhere, body and mind, yes, even rolling it a bed on the opposite side being so different.

Michelle: My dad actually recently had a second hip replacement and this one threw him off more than the other because he had to learn to get in and out of bed differently. The first one he didn’t really notice because he could get in and out and it took some rewiring to be able to do that. And in hindsight he could have practised that ahead of time. It would have been a lot easier to practice there doing it when he was not not in pain or protecting that, that joint or whatever. But it’s amazing how stuck we get in these patterns. We don’t know.

Keira: 100% agreed, and 100%

Michelle: I’m going to have to pay attention to how I get up, which foot I lead with and try and switch it up.

Keira: Yeah, and even like where your hands are like, are you always leaning on one arm versus the other from your car and the other one is even like if you’re throwing bales, don’t always throw it from the same side or you’re throwing hay. You’re always throwing from the left, trying how from the right, if you’re cleaning stalls out, clean one stall with your left hand down and then switch, so you have your right hand down. And yeah, it’s going to feel awkward and it’s not. You’re not going to be his time efficient, but you will. Eventually and again, your horse is going to thank you, and those are easy things that we’re all doing throughout the day. That’s just going to make you a stronger, more balanced rider.

Michelle: Another another quick assessment. I can see that already cleaning out stalls, to be able like to be able to feel or bales too, like how much stronger on one side you are than the other side and how it’s important to to isolate those muscles and actually do the strengthening exercises separately.

Keira: Yes, agreed,

Michelle: So I saw you guides also do some specialized clinic for ladies postpartum who have recently had babies. How are those clinics different and what shows up in new moms that you might not see in other riders?

Keira: Great question- I’ll preface is a little bit in that, yes, equestrians and riders are our specialty here, but I also have the passion and the extra courses. As I’m a pelvic health physiotherapist and that I’m so passionate about it. I think it, I think they need to be more awareness about it and to be more common knowledge that things that happen post baby, yes, they’re considered somewhat normal, but you don’t have to put up with them for ever and there’s so much that you can do to get back to your previous level of functioning and is so passionate about that. So I think, as riders like I said, I think we have that extra gene and you know we want to get back on that horse as soon as possible, right, not only for us physically but mentally I think it’s a big thing for us to get back on. However, I do feel that quite often, as riders we get on our horses too quickly before our internal core is actually totally activated and strong enough, which might not give us disfunction now when we get back on. But it might not come up until we are in perimenopause or menopause when our hormones dip down and then we’re like, hey, I’m leaking on my saddle or things that you know we really don’t want to ruining our $6000 saddle because of a little, whatever her horse spooked. So really on those rider, those postpartum clinics. We do quite a bit of education beforehand, making sure that the mom and you don’t even have to be a mom. You might have disfunction without even having a child. Those people can come in as well, but making sure that we can activate or pelvic floor accordingly. So being able to engage, being able to release as riders I find in general we tend to be a little bit tighter persons than more loose goosy. So being able to relax that pelvic floor down. And that’s just as important because when you go to shrug your shoulders you need to be able to lift them up and need to be to put them back down so they’re ready to shrug back up again. So that would be my analogy for the pelvic floor. I one, being able to activate that. Do we have any functions going on? So we do a lot of breath work on the mats before we get on, because the breath really has a lot to do with the pelvic floor and the internal core, making sure that we can activate transverse abdominous, which is our innermost abdominal muscle, and that muscle there is also, if we can activate that accordingly, making sure that we’re not going to be tipped over like the leaning tower of Pisa on our horse right and we have some core stability there and then giving the mums or ladies exercises on the mat that they can go home and do off their horse. Then those exercises that we’ve learned on the mat. We then practice them in the saddle, so again learning how to diagraphamatically breathe when we’re riding. So we’re not really really tight and I find it super interesting that some people get on their horse and their horses all jumping around him like he just drop our pelvic floor. Do that diaphragm breath and instantly, once we have that connection with that breath, you can just see the horse just relax because we’re not like a two by four right sitting in the saddle. The horse now has more flexibility and more flexibility in their back and you see them just relax and drop down as well. So to me that’s a really nice light bulb that comes on something super common that happens during pregnancy. Is we lose our glutes, our Jane Fonda buns of steel, go away so being learning how to activate those glutes appropriately on the mat? And then when we’re riding, how are we activating that? Because if your glute is not on the mat, you’re not going to be activating it in the saddle and we’re going to be using that. When we’re asking for, you know, the canter lead, we’re asking for any changes or horse to come down. We need to be able to use those glutes to move our legs. So then giving those exercises in the saddle, like I’m going to say a posting trot, but really I’m meaning squat like a posting squats, we’re actually activating our glutes instead of our hip flexors to pull us forward. So that and then we also quite often are using riding bands to make sure that we’re very symmetrical in the saddle, going right from our shoulder to our opposite hip, down to our knee, to our ankle, and making sure that we, even though we might feel like we’re sitting square in the saddle once we get in these riding bands, it really pulls up our asymmetries and gets that core firing and that pelvic floor and our glos, and and then, of course, giving the riders their individualized exercise programs that they can go home with.

Michelle: Feeling hot. Just thinking about these bands, I can feel all the holes showing up right now. Just thinking of doing that. You know, like you, can you can get by riding, but when you start actually honing in on these areas I can’t see that there be very many people that wouldn’t have something right?.

Keira: Yeah, you’re absolutely correct. I don’t know how many of the riding ones I did last week at the Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive and honestly, when within the first thirty seconds it was like oh my, it’s weird, but I’m I’m sitting equal and then someone else is like wow, you look so much better and I’m like, wait until you run tomorrow. I’m like we’re going to have you clocking in faster time. Honestly, I just got this message and the message the lady just sent was saying the best money that she’s ever spent and she can’t believe that she’s waited so long and she clocked better and I was like. This is why I do my job to have these amazing testimonials come in, of how something I’m not going to say seems simple, but something seems simple, so positive, a positive change in someone’s life. Right.

Michelle: Yeah, well, I think, because we can, everyone can just get by riding a horse and you can, you can do it, but we don’t see our own holes, our own weaknesses. We might think this horse is having trouble picking up its lead and actually I’ve had this where my husband and I were both. We were both riding the same colts and you know colts, or they kind of do what you tell them to do. I was saying I don’t remember which horse it was what I was like. I’ve been having trouble getting her right lead and he says you mean her left lead and I had to stop and think and I was like: no, no, it’s her right lead and he says: well, I always have trouble with her left lead and I thought: well, isn’t that interesting? But we must each have…and as it was, this is actually still the thing for me is. The right lead on younger horses is clearly my weakness and I don’t know if the left, it is a thing for him. But it was obvious when she was showing us two different things. It was us and our imbalances, because she was trying to get under us, was getting our messages differently.

Keira: No, and I think that’s a good point, is that sometimes you know our riding coaches like we’ll be having something and then our riding coach gets on. And you know that’s that whole meme of me riding my horse and it’s like a dinosaur and then your coach gets on and it’s a unicorn, but still our asymmetries. And then, but but also in that knowing that sometimes the horse isn’t doing it wrong, it’s we’re telling them to do it wrong. So sometimes it’s you know we need to get out of that little bit of that coaching mentality and see where are our physical limitations and just a different paradigm, a different viewpoint of why may this be coming down? Maybe maybe it’s not training, but maybe it’s the actual cues that we’re we’re giving the horse that are causing those problems.

Michelle: Absolutely. We’re all about that here on the rider’s mind podcast of looking within to see what it is that we’re how we’re contributing, right and taking responsibility. But I do think that this is kind of next level stuff and that it’s one thing to take responsibility, but it’s and just say, oh, it’s my imbalance, but it’s another to make the appointment and actually go right? And commit to it and do the homework. I think that’s where people can get their edge is by actually doing the things they know they should be doing, and that was an air quote should.

Keira: But yeah, and I 100% agree with you. I do find, though, riders like once we have that little light, bulb moment and you say: you know, if you do these exercises, your horse is going to get better. We’re not saying you are going to get better, your horse is going to get better feeling better. I feel like that’s a pivotal thing for us. Riders like my horse is going to, not me but my horse, and it’s like that ah ha moment that I can do this for my horse. Right.

Keira: Shift in perspective that helps promote. I don’t know, say, sell it, but promote what. What needs to happen is when they can see the result in their horse. Then it’s then it’s go time, then it’s going probably like that first appointment, when they can see their feel and see their balance. So clear too.

Keira: Yes, yeah, when, when thinking of a client this morning, you know the left glute, like I think it’s a little bit weak and they’re like, well, if it’s always been that way, and then I needed their glut and retested their strength and it’s literally like their eyeballs, they they’re laying on the side on the table and then I retest. They’re like that just happened, like you just got me stronger right now and was like: yeah, and now your going to ride your horse and you’re going to feel different and you should feel different. After I work on you, you should feel different in the saddle or if we’re in a riding clinic like you, your mind should be like what is going on right now, because if we don’t give you that, we haven’t changed enough. And that’s something I always try and say after a rider assessment or after rider clinic, that your brain might be like what just happened or I feel weird. And if you start to revert back to this is the same, it’s easy. I’m feeling normal. We probably need to come back in for another assessment to make sure that you are sitting right symmetrical and we’re not just going back to our regular habits. You know, getting the chair with her right leg forward instead of the left like making sure that those things stay a little bit. You’re ahead of your game.

Keira: That’s very interesting to me that you could make a change that fast, like I mean you can needle me and I don’t have to lift weights to be stronger?

Keira: because there I mean it’s not going to hold forever, it’s going to hold for a little bit. You need to go home and do your homework to maintain that neuro, because we’re all what we did, is we just turn, we turn that muscle on by stimulating it. But you need to go home and do your exercise to make sure that that glute stays on.

Michelle: But that’s cool. But you can show that that quickly, that this is what you will have if you do your homework and it will feel this way once you keep up with it. That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty good.

Keira: Yeah, and it’s even like I have a kinesiology student at the moment, and so we’re at this that show this past weekend, and was it you? Let’s do one on you, we haven’t done it yet. She’s like, I think I’m pretty equal in the saddle. You know when she’s young and she’s fit, and I was like: well, we got a little bit off when I see you do your squat, meaning you’re going to be a little bit off on that barrel or a little bit off on that post, she’s like, no, I think I’m pretty good, tested her glutes and little bit weaker, and then I need alert and literally eyeballs popping out and she’s like I had no idea I Was that off. I’m working out all the time. I’m like, yeah, we can be working it all the time, but if we’re not working out that specific area that we’re weak, we’re just going to be continually that same pattern right. So I think it’s really important to get into someone and see where your asymmetries are.

Michelle: So do you have any other examples that you could share, like that of the glute or like any neat stories you have of where you’ve done a quick tweak and it’s made all the world a difference for somebody?

Keira: Yes, I would say three. Okay, we’ll go back about six weeks ago, maybe estimating. Six weeks ago a lady came in, were at another at a barrel racing event and the first time I met her and she popped on and I could tell she wasn’t she wanted to be there, but someone probably told her to be there on my table. I did an adjustment, just her hips worked on her glutes in her low back and I was like: I think this is what’s going on. Let’s see how you run. So she ran. I’d higher 18. She knocked off five tents the next day on her run for and 18. And then I saw her about, which is huge right, and then I saw her about three weeks later at the Alberta Barrel Racing Finals and she ran. An 18 on the day before I saw her that afternoon. Oh sorry, day before I saw her that morning. She ran a couple of hours later. She ran a 17 and six after a quick adjustment and that was her fastest time, so little things like the end. She came back and she was like almost in tears and she’s like I can’t believe I did that. I felt so good and we’re all about mindset right. She came back, I felt equal in my saddle. I had the confidence in that run because I felt more balanced. So you know, maybe it wasn’t just truly, maybe it wasn’t just me. Maybe I helped her just with her confidence to feel more symmetrical, more equal. But that confidence to be able to run from that 18.1 to that 17.6, putting her in the on the top of the one. To me that is huge like that is why I do my job and yeah, and to come back and have that emotional response like I can’t believe that we just did that. So these would be a couple of just easy examples that happened in the last few weeks.

Michelle: Cool. I imagine that it would impact people’s confidence with like kind of a side effect right like that’s not why somebody would go. But if you if your body is not busy searching for balance.You have yourHead in the middle, like literally and figuratively, rights that are table, you’re within yourself.

Keira: And if you’re not, if you’re not going to be scared, like you know, like, let’s say, you’ve moved up a height in jumping, you’re now doing the one forties and you’re like, I don’t know my horse, like kicks his legs out over. I feel like I’m getting jarred forward. But if we’re able to activate, you’re core so you’re stronger, so you’re not actually falling forward. And at that new height, if you’re able to be like, no, I’ve got this, I’m not scared, I’m going to fall off or if my horse does refuse, I know that I have the strength to stick it. Of course I just feel like, yeah, that’s going to give us confidence. When we ride with confidence, we’re going to ride better, we’re going to perform better right and even on our young colts

Michelle: There’s that subconscious aspect, basically that our bodies know whether or not we’re compromised or not. If we are feeling vulnerable, you might not be thinking because you’re not aware of this imbalance. Most of us aren’t even aware of it, but your body is in your nervous system is, and if that’s not all aligned, it’s going to be more dialed into the sympathetic right because it is not. It’s feeling some stress from being busy trying to keep itself aligned so subconsciously. I can see how that would be. Just give you confidence without even having to think about it, because your body is less activated into its fear side of the nervous, just because you’re like trying to stay alive so hard, so much anymore.

Keira: Yeah, your fighting flight isn’t as much and I think maybe not even on the physio aspect. But I know that if I am to ride with a helmet, I ride a heck of a lot more aggressive and I’m not near as apprehensive, which I think is going to keep me more aligned right because I know how much money I’ve thrown into my brain. So if I’m going to have that protected right, so I think even little things like that that help us and that we’re not. We’re not, as in our minds and fighting ourselves. Yeah, we’re we’re we’re going to do better

Michelle: kind of top down, bottom up, both approach from to meet in the middle. Yeah, maybe that would be my new tagline.

Keira: Meet in the middle, be symmetrical.

Michelle: So are there a couple? You’ve touched on a few of them, but more specifically, I guess, are there a couple of body based exercises that you could share that might help someone experience a change and be like: oh wow, this feels good. What else can I learn and then they can go and find you?

Keira: Yes, so I would say one of my most common exercises that I recommend are clamshells, or call I call them Jane Fonda’s, got to put on your sweatband and your panic and get to go. So you lie on your side and your knees are going to be bent, your knees are going to be together and your heels are going to be together and your heels are velcro together so they never come apart. So when you’re in that little bit of that crook position, I want you to roll forward as if you’re goin to feel your goin to fall out of bed. Then you put your top hand, you’re lying on your side, your top hand on your hip, and that hand is just going to tell you whether or not you’re going to roll it back at all or whether or not you’re staying still. So when you’re in that position, heel staying together, you’re going to lift your knee up about four inches and your going to activate your glute, that glute meat. So that, think of how, every time you kick, you’re bringing that meat outright in order to move, so those clam shells and you can just put into clam shells into Youtube or Google, and I’m sure a million will pop out. But the key point is that I want you to be rolled forward, to really make sure that you’re isolating in that glute. And the biggest thing is not to have a huge open book to bring that knee way up. But you’re only bringing it up about four inches and you should truly, if you’re doing it properly, you should feel a burn in your glute within four to five reps and then you’re going to do it on your other side as well, and you might find the side that you’re weaker on your bottom hip actually starts to ache as well because it’s trying to work with it. So you can feel that activation there. So the clam shells would definitely be one that I that I highly recommend. The other one is our rider squats. Now lots of people have heard of a squat where you squat along the wall with your back against the wall. But this one you’re actually going to face the wall. So you face the wall and you walk right up to the wall, to the base the baseboard, so your toes, or feet, are on to be hit with the part or even a little bit wider, as if you’re on that horse and I want your toes to hit that baseboard and are going to go together as if you’re doing like a prayer position in front and you’re going to squat down now, the reason we have that wall in front of you. So you cannot lean forward. So you’re not going to be in that hunter position to do that squat. But as you go back you’re going to Beonce backwards that booty pop backwards, bum backwards and you only go down until you’re almost going to fall and then you squeeze your glutes and then you push yourself up again. And if someone could video you or take a photo view in the back, you want to make sure that you have a straight line from your head down your spine to your glutes and your bum isn’t going to one side or the other. So and if you do find that you’re like, oh, I’m really shifting to that right hand side, you only go down to right before that shift and then you come back up. So those would be two easy exercises that you could start with right away to see if you’re you know, have some weakness and something that’s going to help your riding out.

Michelle: So, as you’re probably watching my face, as you’re describing doing this squat, I’m having a visual of how this is going down for me and it’s not not going to be good.

Keira: I always say like: if you do one, let’s say you do one a day.That is one hundred percent more than zero, just 1 rep right. Even if you can get five reps in, that’s 500% more than zero. So the little things and the little changes that you can make and can have a big difference and they can start that big change. You know your horse can start to love you a little bit more because he’s not compensating for your dysfunction.

Michelle: I have a suspicion that I’m probably when I would go down to do that, that I will be crooked, like there’s a pull to one side. So you say: only come down as far as you can do it straight and then am I strengthening bit by bit. So like. If I do it every day next week I’ll be able to go a little deeper straight. Is that what’s yeah, yeah, yeah, if needles can you expedite the process for me?

Keira: Probably yeah, absolutely probably. But for for our listeners, who know are a long ways away. If you’re living in Quebec, I’m not going to expect you to come out to Alberta. However, throughout this, the last two years and changes online online physio appointments have become popular and there’s so much that we can do. Like me watching you ride, getting you to do some movements at home and being like you know what. I think you’re actually moving this way a little bit to change this. So even doing online appointments, we can make those changes at home, so then you can work, start working on those things outside the saddle, outside the barn and you don’t necessarily always have to have to come in. If, if that physical barrier so you guys offer health assessments,

Michelle: I can see I’d even be handy like as a rider, I don’t know any physios in my town that specialized in riders. But if I did my assessments with you guys, you gave me the exercises and if there were manipulations that needed to be done, I could come with my little booklet right of what you guys recommended. Would you work with somebody else like that?

Keira: Yeah, for sure, absolutely I said, you know what I think that this needs to be needled or I think that this hip needs to be manipulated. We definitely can write down those suggestions and definitely can send them off to your home, your home-based physio, and say hey, I think we need to try this and then we can kind of go from there because it’s not. We’re not that your physios not good or anything like that, but sometimes it’s a little bit different of a lens picks up different things or we’re looking specifically for things, because if you don’t ride you don’t it’s it’s hard to realize how a rider could strain their hamstring because it doesn’t seem like that’s something that you would really used when riding is your hamstrings. But if that glutes not firing and you’re you’re gripping on there or you know, Harry the horse decides to lop off. You’re like, well, I got a grip so little things that we’re used to looking for that other people might not realize that we’re we’re activating when we’re riding.

Michelle: Yeah, I can see there are being some good collaborative collaborative efforts right, but even just getting started with the strengthening and balancing yourself. That way, I think as long if somebody doesn’t have like a major thing, I imagine even through distance you’re going to be able to make a huge impact for somebody.

Keira: I think so. Yeah, yeah, I really do.

Michelle: So. This has been fantastic. Where can people learn more about? You, get in contact with you, see what you have coming up for workshops and if we want to do an assessment, where can we find you?

Keira: So we go directly to our website, which is So right on our website there. And actually, if you are one of the moms or you think you have a pelvic floor disfunction, I have two online seminar that you can do there. That takes you through a few hours of lecture, gives you a whole bunch of exercises, so that’s directly on there that you can purchase. You can also book directly online through Jana, which is our our online system. If you’re interested in a clinic date. Honestly, you can go through my schedule, everything there, and you’re like: hey, I see that she has a Friday off. Well, if you want me to fly out to Manitoba, I’ll get my license and I can come out for that week-end so that’s an option too. And then we’re also going to say honestly, even better yet, give us a call at 5874930444 and one of our client care specialists, one of our amazing team members, will definitely be more than happy to help you out. But if you are like throughout the country or maybe in Australia, wherever those online appointments their money, we can do a lot in that one on one over our computer software.

Michelle: That sounds fantastic. It’s for your horse, people for your horses or your horse. We’ll link to all that jazz in the show notes too, so people can link, click and go direct to you. Thank you very much for this. This has been eye opening and I’ll definitely be setting out my tripod and and videoing myself.

Keira: Oh, I love it, and then you can send it to me and then I’ll pick you apart, but for the horse.

Michelle: Yes, this is all for the horse.

Keira: Thank you so much for having me.

Michelle: It’s been a pleasure.


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