Shropshire hunters urged to make vital preparations

With the hunting season in full swing across Shropshire, hundreds of hunters are busy preparing their horses for winter meets, in particular the traditional Boxing Day events.

From grooming, to diet, to making sure the horse and rider has the right attire there is lots to think about.

But Shifnal-based horse rider and chiropractor Laura Cunningham is urging all hunters this season to spend a bit more time on preparing themselves as well as their horses to avoid long term injury.

“Most riders spend huge amounts of time and money on vet and physio bills making sure their horses are in sound condition for the hunting season but they often completely forget about themselves,” said the 27-year-old, who owns Shifnal Chiropractic Clinic in Dyas Close, Shifnal.

“Horse riding and in particular cross country riding and hunting can take its toll on the body.

“Common problems include upper and lower back pain associated with yard work, horse grooming and long periods of time in the saddle – particularly if your horse is a bit over-eager!

“As a keen rider myself I have suffered these problems, and I frequently have riders of all ages visit the clinic with various aches and pains.

“It’s easy to forget sometimes simple measures which can help to prevent against pain or injury.

“So I would appeal to all hunters who are out on regular meets throughout the season including the main Boxing Day hunts across Shropshire to take a little time out and think about their own health and wellbeing as well as their horses.

“Simple things like making sure you avoid mounting your horse from the ground can, over time, prevent injury.

“Another good tip is to make sure you have a good saddle which fits you and the horse, and whenever you are grooming or doing yard work make sure your switch sides to use your least dominant hand.

“Always pull a wheelbarrow rather than push it and take regular breaks from strenuous and repetitive jobs.

“All these things can make a real difference and make hunting and riding in general much more comfortable and enjoyable.”

Andy Wheals, owner of the Saddleman, agreed that making the right preparations could help reduce injury for both riders and the horse.

He said: “Almost half of saddle slipping is due to rider imbalance, rather than a problem with the horse or the saddle.

“Continued saddle slipping over a long period of time can cause aches and pains for riders and their horses so it’s essential to take measures to correct this early on.

“Simple exercises at the walk and trot can improve saddle posture and position and therefore preventing saddle slip.”