Back in the Saddle Again

MaryAnn McCarter, performing better than ever - thanks to The Egoscue Method posture exercises.
Photo by Cathrin Cammett

By MaryAnn McCarter

MaryAnn McCarter is a true inspiration! She did not give up and certainly did not allow severe injuries and chronic pain to rob her of her joy and passion, riding her horse. Whether you have small nagging aches, or major debilitating pains, your postural alignment is the key to keeping them at bay, and like MaryAnn, keeping yourself in the saddle. Here is her story.

“Taking up the sport for the first time over the age of 45 is probably a challenge for anyone especially when your main activity was working in a sedentary environment since college. However, I had always wanted a horse and decided it was now or never. Initially, I took lessons 2-3 times per week and after one year of riding, I decided it was time to get serious and was looking for a horse to buy when I had my first of many bad accidents. As I was bucked off the first time, I ended up with a concussion, stitches and quite a bit of overall body pain. I knew all I could do was to get back on the horse as soon as possible…so in about six weeks, I did. I bought what I thought to be a “safe” horse and had a lot of fun over the next year learning to ride. Now I felt I needed more time for riding since my body was telling me this was not going to get any easier. So, I quit working and made plans for showing my skill at the Six Weeks of Indio. This was a huge deal for me. Unfortunately, I took another good fall and although I got back up on the horse, I paid for it over the next couple of days. My back spasmed and temporarily paralyzed me as I went over a jump. I had never felt such pain in my life until it happened again the next day when I bent down to put my pants on.

After three MRIs, my body felt like it was falling apart. The doctor said that I had herniated discs in my low back and torn my rotator cuff in my shoulder. He broke the bad news to me that I would never ride again. The good news is that I did not believe him. I found a new doctor who owned two horses himself and assured me I would ride again but it would take time. Living on prescription painkillers and doing nothing that would stress my low back I finally returned to riding nine months later. I looked good and hard and finally bought a new, “very safe” horse. After about four weeks back in the saddle, I was thrown from the horse again and did not get back on the horse. I seriously thought about giving riding up thinking that my body could not take it. Riding with a back brace was uncomfortable for me and probably for the horse also. I was so stiff and in so much pain all the time that riding seemed out of reach again. Then my luck changed.

A lady at my barn mentioned that I try The Egoscue Method posture exercises. The Egoscue Method is a company that has been treating musculoskeletal pain by addressing postural dysfunction for over 25 years. She had not tried it herself due to her busy schedule even though she had severe back problems. As she was telling me about it, another woman overheard us and said that it had worked miracles for her husband.

I went the next day and immediately felt better after my first Therapy session. Although I had knots in my back from the spasms, I could still do enough of the e-cises so that within a week I too felt as if I had experienced a miracle. I have not worn a brace since and my riding has improved dramatically. I cannot believe that I have the same back!

Since then, I went to Indio, CA for six weeks and won the Circuit Championship. I did my exercises daily and the results were remarkable. I called my friend that made the recommendations to me originally. I came to find out that she finally made the time and is now having the same results. It is amazing that someone did not tell me sooner about this company and their methods because I tell everyone I meet. I finally understand that my back problems were really postural problems that showed up as herniated discs and chronic pain. Not any more, my riding life has returned.”

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By the way, The Egoscue Method wants to hear from you. If you have specific pain or postural concerns and how your riding could be affected, please feel free to contact us and we may use your story for our ongoing Natural Horse articles. Look for us in your next issue.

For more information as well as therapeutic postural exercises, go to or call the Egoscue Method clinic toll free at 800-995-8434.