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RidersPainFreeBack-horseandriderbooks

Photo by Charles Hilton.

Apparently, equestrians played a key role in popular bar design. Never mind the obvious (sometimes a horse girl needs a drink)—theory has it, back pain, likely related to hours in the saddle, was the key influencer in this equation.

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“Back pain affects four out of five people at some time during their lives,” explains retired neurosurgeon and horseman Dr. James Warson in his book THE RIDER’S PAIN-FREE BACK. “It is the leading cause of disability for people between the ages of 19 to 45. Back pain is second only to the common cold for causing adults under 45 to miss work. Furthermore, as we age, low back pain becomes more and more common—affecting half of the population older than 60 at any given time.”

Uplifting, right? But the kicker is, whatever causes the back pain—be it sources outside or within our equestrian pursuits—it ultimately affects our ability to ride, as well as our enjoyment of it. And that, my friends, would surely drive a man to drink.

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So what does all of this have to do with bars?

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Photo by Charles Hilton.

“A posture characteristic of people who have spine problems or pain is a tendency to flex the hips and knees somewhat,” says Dr. Warson. “This takes traction off the nerves—particularly the sciatic nerve—and makes them a little bit more comfortable. Extending the back—especially when standing with a straight leg—may irritate the nerves. This is why people who have severe back problems tend to bend forward somewhat, as well as flexing their hips and knees, in order to get some relief.

“In the ruins of Pompeii are a staggering number of saloons, bordellos, and bathhouses. Each of these entertainment places featured a long, low, stone step that ran in front of what was the equivalent of the bar. Since most of the people who rode horses in that era were either soldiers or politicians, and since the proprietors of the various establishments wanted to keep their elite clientele happy, the low step encouraged the power players to gather around the bar. Riders were generally wealthy and worthy of courting as patrons. Long hours in the saddle, however, contributed to a host of chronic back problems. The low step allowed clients to flex the hip and knee. It would alleviate their pain somewhat, enabling them to stay at the establishment longer—and spend more money.

RidersPainFreeBack2-horseandriderbooks“The bar owners knew that the people who rode in on horseback were probably hurting. They also knew that flexing the hip and knee would make them more comfortable. People standing at the bar could rest their feet on the step and ease some of their chronic pain. If the patrons were feeling no pain, they would tend to hang around longer, and they’d tend to drink more.

“Later on, especially in Europe, the stone steps were replaced with a brass rail, which is commonly seen and still used today at the base of bars almost everywhere.”

There you are, folks…a rider’s reason for that foot rest at the bar. Party people everywhere have equestrians to thank for their hours of comfort, belly-up.

Cheers.

THE RIDER’S PAIN-FREE BACK is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Ever wonder what it’s like to be a top rider, trainer, judge, or clinician? Trafalgar Square Books (www.horseandriderbooks.com) is tracking down its top authors and asking them to pull back the curtains and let us take a quick peek into their lives. In our second installment in our “24 Hours in the Life of…” series, we caught up with FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy (author of the bestselling DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE). In case you’re wondering what Janet will be doing tomorrow, here’s a glimpse at her typical Tuesday when not on the road officiating at a competition or teaching a clinic.

 

24JanetFoy

 

A TYPICAL TUESDAY

5:00 a.m. Still sleeping!

6:30 a.m. Britta, my dog, wakes me up for breakfast! First, I start the coffee pot and watch Britta go out the doggie door, then I head out to the front driveway for two papers: USA Today and the local Gazette Telegraph. I immediately feed Britta and give her insulin. The day has begun!

7:00 a.m.  I finish my first cup of coffee and have skimmed the newspapers. Off to the computer to check e-mails and wish every one of my FB friends a Happy Birthday!

7:30 a.m. Head to the shower, being careful not to wake up my husband, who is retired and has the luxury of sleeping late everyday.

8:00 a.m. Out to the garden to water all the veggies and flowers in pots, front and back.

8:30 a.m.  By this time I’m usually on my way to Denver, to teach lessons at Julie Forman’s house. Have a great group of gals who come from all over Denver, and two sisters, Natalie and Nicole, who come from Tomora Training Center in Greeley, Colorado.

 

Janet with two of her students.

Janet with two of her students.

 

1:30 p.m.  I finish teaching and pack up my lunch, dog, headsets (etc) and head to the car.

2:00 p.m.  I call in for the USEF High Performance Working Group Conference Call. Luckily, I am not the Chair of this group , so can drive home (45 minutes) while talking on the call.

3:00 p.m.  Arrive home, and my conference call is over. I drop Britta off at the house and run off to finish the errands I did not get done Monday: Go to the cleaners, grocery store, bank, and today also to the Apple store because my computer is broken. Turns out the hard drive needs replacing, so I buy a system to back things up, run home to do a back up on what hopefully still remains on the computer, then take another trip to Apple to drop the computer off for them to fix.

4:00 p.m.  Whew, think I will sit down. No, wait, I need to buy four plane tickets for next month’s trips (meetings, shows, and clinics). Rats, no computer. No problem, I have the iPad! Start to buy four plane tickets. Wow, prices are going up: Nothing under $750.00 and a few over $1,000. Gads. My husband doesn’t open my credit card statement anymore…too stressful!

4:30 p.m.  I put away all the clean laundry that I did on Monday.

5:00 p.m.  My husband just walked in from the golf course, and he wonders what is for dinner. Good thing I took something out of the freezer. Did I mention I love to cook? So, we have stuffed acorn squash. I cook the squash first, then clean out the insides and mix with: white raisins, almonds, dried cherries, maple syrup, butter, white wine, and leeks. Also use a lot of fresh herbs from the garden. Re-stuff the squash and voila, dinner!

6:00 p.m.  Sit down to eat dinner: A glass of wine and relaxing!

6:30 p.m.  Rule in Foy house: She who cooks does not do dishes. So, my honey cleans up the kitchen. I feed Britta her dinner and give her another insulin shot. Time for a 30-minute Britta walk. (On non-Denver-teaching days she gets two, one in the morning and one at night.)

 

Janet's dog Britta likes her walks!

Janet’s dog Britta likes her walks!

 

7:30 p.m.  By now I am pooped. I check e-mail one more time and turn off the computer or iPad. In the winter I like to watch some recorded TV, but summer is all reruns, so I usually retire to the Jacuzzi tub with a good book.

9:30 p.m.  Good night!

 

You can read the first post in this series, “24 Hours in the Life of Horseman Clinton Anderson,” by CLICKING HERE.

 

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CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Janet Foy’s fabulous book DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW.

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