By Mary Debono
It’s a funny thing. Whether it’s a dog with sore hips or damaged knees, or a horse with a stiff back, a creaky neck or some other trouble, very often people have the very same affliction as their animal. Since it happens WAY too often to be mere coincidence, it made me wonder how this occurs.
Let’s consider horses first. A rider’s stiff back and tight hips impede her horse’s movement, causing her mount to develop a stiff back and tight hips too. That is pretty straight forward. Simple cause and effect.
But even though we don’t ride our dogs, humans and their canines often share the same physical challenges. One veterinarian I spoke to thinks that the answer lies in our strong emotional connection. She believes that your animal companion reacts to the emotional tone of your movement. A person with a supple back and free hips easily conveys confidence, safety, and joy while someone who has stiff or guarded movement does not. Since your dog or horse responds to the emotions you embody, that is important to keep in mind.
Yet another theory is that animals act as our mirrors, reflecting back to us what we need to improve. Perhaps that is the ultimate reason!
But not matter what explanation we settle on, it’s clear that soreness and tension interfere with your ability to physically engage with your animal companion. It’s difficult to walk your dog around the block, let alone run an agility course, if aches and pains impede your gait. You may even hamper your canine athlete’s performance. The same is true for equestrians, whether they are in the saddle or working their horses on the ground.
So if improving the use of your back, hips and pelvis for your own health and well-being isn’t enough, consider doing it for your animals’ sake!
Do you share movement challenges with your animal? Do you know anyone who does? What are your thoughts on this phenomenon? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!