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Is this the source of your pain?
Thursday 3rd of September 2009 03:31 PM

by Sukie Baxter
burning back pain
Those who struggle with back pain, whether lower or upper, know that the associated stiffness and limited range of motion have a profound effect on the rest of your life.  It zaps your energy, causes headaches, digestive issues, and can make you feel generally lethargic. 

Pain in the back is usually associated with instability below, meaning that the legs and feet are somehow imbalanced.  In fact, when a scoliosis patient brings his or her feet directly together, the spinal curvature usually worsens, indicating that the legs are really the causal factor.

Frequently, my clients come to my office and tell me they have a leg length differential, meaning one leg is shorter than the other.  This is actually quite common.

Unfortunately, determining the source of the difference requires more than looking at a person's feet when they are lying down to see if they line up.  While that will give you an indication of the pattern, it tells you nothing about what the muscles and bones are doing inside the legs.

There are two kinds of leg length differentials: structural and functional.  Structural differentials occur when the actual bones of the leg are of different lengths.  The ONLY way to be sure you have a structural leg length differential is to have x-rays taken and then measure the length of the bones. 

If this is the case for you, you may need to have a lift put in your shoes on the shorter side to provide support for your pelvis and back.

Functional differentials, however,. are much more common.  In this pattern, the muscles and tissues somewhere in the body have become short and tight, holding one leg higher off the ground than the other.  This can easily be corrected through precise, structural bodywork.
psoas muscle illustration

In the picture here, you see one of the primary instigators of this shortening: the illiopsoas muscle group.  Your illiacus muscle attaches to the inside of the pelvic bowl (that's the broad, flat one you see at the side of the picture) and merges with your psoas (the skinny one right next to the spine) on its way to attaching along the inside of your femur, or leg bone.

Both of these muscles flex the leg at the hip, like when you're sitting in a chair.  Illiopsoas tension can contribute to discomfort in the digestive organs and abdominal region.  If one side becomes short and tight, it will pull that leg higher, making it appear shorter.

When your feet - the foundation to your entire body - are not balanced as happens when your legs are different lengths, your pelvis will be crooked.  That puts torque on your sacrum, or tailbone, which is the bottom-most vertebra of your spine.

When your sacrum doesn't move, neither does anything else above it, and that means BIG PAIN! 

Additionally, your psoas attaches along your spine at the same junction as your diaphragm.  If your psoas is too tight, it will constrict breathing; having your psoas released makes HUGE changes to breath capacity for athletes seeking improved performance.

Maintaining long, limber hip flexors is critical for back health.  If you spend more than 2 hours a day sitting, make sure you include activities in your exercise routine that fully extend your anterior hip to keep back pain and stiffness at bay.

©2009 Functional Balance, Inc.

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Holistic Arts Practitioner and Wellness Consultant, Sukie Baxter, publishes the weekly Embody Your Potential Ezine.  To learn how to rejuvenate your body and soul using natural health strategies that get real results, register for her free weekly articles at

“What’s the best way to improve my riding position?”
Monday 17th of August 2009 09:40 AM

I’m on the email lists of a number of popular trainers, and this week I saw one answer a question from a subscriber asking  “What’s the best way to improve my riding position?”

Of course this trainer (I’m not saying who she is, if you're on her list you know who she is) went into the usual blah-blah-blah about how head hip and heel need to be aligned, then talked about the significance of keeping the heel down and a bunch of other similar things… none of which is going to help anybody improve their position for more than a few moments… for the following 2 reasons:

Two things you MUST do to improve your position instantly:

1). Get a saddle that positions you correctly! 90+% of all equestrians I see are relatively talented, are riding a relatively talented horse, and training with a relatively talented instructor – and waste their energy, time, horse, trainer and money with a crappy saddle, one that doesn't ALLOW them to sit correctly!
I upgraded a few years ago to a Laser(TM) saddle, and would have gotten one that didn’t fit me except that the lady I bought it from knew what she was doing and how to fit saddles to people.  She insisted I get a size that seemed ginormous at the time – 18″ – as I’d only ever ridden in now-microscopic 16 inchers.  Not only did the saddle fit me AND my horse, but it positioned me correctly.  For the first time I was RIDING my horse instead of struggling against my saddle. Now my lessons focused on WHAT I was doing, instead vainly attempting to correct my lousy position. This also falls into getting more value for your dollar at your lessons.
I know, this saddle wasn’t cheap – but it took YEARS of lessons off my learning curve, and saved my horse (and me) countless sore backs.  How much do you spend a year on lessons – and how valuable is your horse’s health and performance?

Of course, most of the Western Saddles I’ve ever seen, and many English are usually built completely wrong for the whole process in the first place. Take a good look at where you sit, and where the stirrups are hung.  They are usually in FRONT of where your seatbones are, so it’s a fight from the start.  The farther back these are, the closer they are to where your seatbones are in the saddle, the easier it is to sit straight.

2). Get your body in shape! Not just toning the whole thing, although that’s valuable too, but have a professional LOOK at you (and poke and prod, as part of the process) and prescribe exercises done either at home or the gym, that  address YOUR specific postural issues. Most people (and horses!) develop asymmetrically – we are right handed (or left handed).  We have an injury on this side or that.  We have emotional and mental stresses and strains that twist and warp our bodies.  We just don’t develop symmetrically, and we learn bad postural habits from our parents, and form sitting too long in front of the computer.  These can be overcome not by rigorous self discipline, although it helps, but by specific physical exercises.

Yes, you too can ride better. Some things are easy to fix when you know where the problem really lies.

Next Step: Get your copy of the free CD, “12 Secrets To Winning More Ribbons In Dressage” today to get more tips on things you probably  didn’t realize are part of the process. It WILL speed up your learning curve – even if you aren’t competitive, and even if you don’t ride dressage!

Schmoozing to Win...
Saturday 8th of August 2009 02:01 PM


"But the only way to win here in (my location) is to schmooze the judges."  I hate to say how many times through the years I've heard that comment, in whatever form it takes.

Other variations: "Oh, she's an Arab/QH/Paint/Hannoverian/Warmblood/(insert breed name here) person - you can only win if you're on that breed of horse."

"Schmoozing" is a pretty serious offense in dressage.  Judges work extremely hard to earn their letter designations, and the USEF is happy to investigate each and every accusation of "schmoozing".  Equestrians can easily file complaints, even anonymously, so judges work hard to stay straight, so they can keep their designation.  Judges found guilty face suspension or worse of their credentials, so it's not often that "schmoozing" is really the case.

If you feel it's justified, you can file anonymously, as I said.  You need the show name, location and date, what kind of show it is, and other related info.

It might not be a case of schmoozing, but perhaps a case of not enough prep time for competing.  You and your horse have to be ultra prepared, have all kinds of contingencies planned for and solved ahead of time, and well, both trained well enough. Nerves can take their toll - it's easy to not ride as well in competition as you do schooling.

You must take that into consideration.

There's always somebody offering up excuses for not performing well.  You don't have to be that person - get your copy of "12 Secrets to Winning More Ribbons In Dressage", and find how to retire your excuses once and for all.

Santa Claus is Coming To Town...
Giving back
Sunday 14th of December 2008 03:49 AM

Ho, Ho, Ho!

That's right, Santa loves horse people too - and that's why he set up He, along with the elves, knew you needed something fun - and free - this year.

It's FREE to join - and FREE to contribute if you're a marketer (Santa's looking for digital downloads, to take the burden off you. Physical goods have a lot more COST to them to supply and ship).

Don't know what to offer? He'll help you out. Don't let not knowing what to offer get in the way of picking up new subscribers!

Looking for a neat gift for that horsey person on your list - but you're on a budget with no stretch? Come on over and grab some goodies sure to please - at a price that can't be beat!

The doors open Thursday, December 18, so get on the pre-announcement list now! Don't miss this First-Ever Equine/Equestrian Event!

Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!

The Foundation Quarter Horse
Parade of Breeds
Sunday 14th of December 2008 02:33 AM

Wednesday, Dec. 17, the's First Ever Virtual Parade of Breeds will spotlight a breed that grew while the U.S, was still young - something that is true Americana. The Quarter Horse is the OLDEST American horse breed, some 50 years older than even the Morgan horse.

Peter Fischer, of Westphalia Ranch, which is the largest Foundation Quarter Horse facility in the country, will share his horses, his passion for the breed, their history and their future with us in a 90-minute webinar.

The beautiful black stallion to the right is Jack, who passed on recently, but he's left many sons and daughters to carry on. Jack was a pleasant-tempered, easy-going horse, unlike many Quarter horses today.

Do you love American History? This is the breed that created much of it.. and continues to for many of us.

Do you enjoy a well-bred horse? Like to see more of them? Ever wonder why the Quarter horses you see look - and act - like Thoroughbreds?

Come Join Us Dec 17, 2008. Learn more...

(If you have issues getting signed up, first try to reload the page.  If that doesn't work, drop a note to

Report On "The Power Of Grants" Webinar
Giving back
Saturday 15th of November 2008 06:28 PM

Sherry Watson, The Power Of Grant MoneyThe Webinar on Wednesday with Sherry Watson was an absolute blast!  I'd never been that nervous before a call, and when I talked with Sherry a few minutes before the event, she was almost more excited than I was - she'd grown up with horses, and had was excited that somebody in the industry wanted to work with her.

AS you can probably tell from the picture, Sherry was in a major ATV accident and had a serious head injury.  She had to relearn EVERYTHING - starting with swollowing, which most babies don't have to learn, it's a reflex they come with.

She found that she wasn't the only person with a head injury, and formed a small group of who went into hospitals and talked with patients and families, encouraging them to be hopeful.  

That small group soon became a national organization - and Sherry it's president.  She learned, via the school of hard knocks, how to obtain grants for organizations, and consulted with everything from movie directors, on the set of "Regarding Henry" to President Clinton and other national leaders.

If you'd like to see the replay, you can visit here, where it will play.   If you sign in, we'll keep you up to date on developments, as we're planning a community for those who are interested, as well as other related events.

Parade of Breeds Gypsy Vanner Webinar
Parade of Breeds
Saturday 15th of November 2008 03:42 PM

This is "King", a beautiful Gypsy Vanner stallion, owned by Gypsy Gold Vanners - the people who started bringing in these beautiful horses in the late '90s.

Dennis Thompson, the one who started it all, will be the featured guest on Wed. Nov 19, on the Parade of Breeds spotlight on the Gypsy Vanner Webinar.

Not only will you have the opportunity to ask him questions about the breed, but you'll also get to see many of his beautiful horses and their foals!

Even better, if you breed Gypsies, you can get a free listing in the handout - for free!

Just sign up for the call and reply to the email you get when you confirm your email, and I'll put your listing in the handout.. at no charge whatsoever.

Doesn't get any better than that!

No, wait it does! Join us on the webinar, and at the end, we'll have a $47 value gift for you - at no charge!!

How Would YOU Want To Give Back... If You Had The Means?
Giving back
Friday 7th of November 2008 07:17 AM

I've been talking a lot about grants the last couple of weeks in various places, and how they change our perspective on life, as now they give us the means to give back and to do good things that need done, and I wanted to ask one burning question:

What ways would YOU like to give back to your community that you've been unable to before?  What do you see that needs done?  What is your dream, if you could allow yourself to dream?

Here are my dreams, and as all, they come from my experience. You may have similar, or different dreams.

First off, my most compelling need right now is to make life easier for my two autistic boys, and the parents of the 700 other autistic children in my county.  I want to find ways to educate the people who DON'T have autism in their life, and so don't have a clue as to what they're seeing when they see an autistic child.

These are the people who stop hubby and I when we're out shopping and one of the boys is in meltdown.  They are the ones who actually tell us we are bad parents - usually women.  It's not enough that we know they are thinking it.  It's not enough that we think it about ourselves.  No, these are the people who go out of their way to tell us this, and add to the pain and frustration of an already bad situation.

I believe that while there has been some national coverage on the issue, most people don't pay attention, as they think it doesn't affect them.  I think the education has to start on a local level.  So I'm starting a foundation that supports parents of autistics with assistance in the form of community education.  I don't know what all that will entail, but I know a lot of work is needed.

My other dream is of a foundation that works to educate and support horse rescues.  I've always thought that a horse rescue (or pretty much any rescue) should be run in a business-like manner.  Perhaps that's because I worked with one that wasn't – and which later really burned to the ground because of their misuse of money.  It took dogs, monkeys, and one person with it, horrifing the whole community.

This foundation would also help out rescues in emergency situations.  Perhaps there was a seizure of a number of horses, and now they need hay, feed, blankets and medical care for 50 head of horses.  The foundation would come in, make an assessment, and make an emergency grant.  They would also help them prosecute the offender, rehab, retrain, and rehome the horses.

They're just little dreams, they aren't trying to take over anything, get anybody rich, or change the world… other than just the teeny little part of it that matters most to me.

The point is that YOU have dreams too, dreams that if you followed them would change many, many lives, not just the horses at the one rescue, or the stress level of the autistic's parents in one town… but those in many, many towns, all over the country.

Sherry Watson is bringing us a way to follow those “giving back” dreams.  You know what the dream is.  Now is the time to bring it to life.

Howdy From
EquineTeleseminar Events
Wednesday 5th of November 2008 10:42 AM

Hi!  Welcome to the blog, where we'll bring you news and updates about upcoming calls on "ET".

ET is  the result of holding a marketing call for an ebook I wrote several years ago.  I did a call with Marv Walker, had a soft upsell at the end for the book - actually, i think I just sent them to a "thank you for attending" page - but I was hooked.  

In the meantime, I've done calls with trainers, vets, business professionals... and a lot of things inbetween.  I've learned a lot about how to - and how to not - market to people.  I've learned a lot about horses, life, and myself.

This picture is of my best friend, Sparky, and myself.  We have a long way to go, but I have the goal of riding in the 2012 Olympics.  (I don't imagine Sparky will qualify).


Right now we're gearing up to bring you somebody I've admired for years, somebody who inspired me to dream not just about how I can make money, but how I could give back to the people (and horses) that have inspired me over the years.  

Sherry Watson will  join us on Wednesday, Nov 12, at 8pm Eastern, 7pm Central, 6pm Mountain, and 5pm Pacific.  It will be a FREE webinar/teleconference, so you can listen and watch right over the internet.  

You'll want to visit RIGHT NOW, and learn more.   

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