Last weekend we went horseback riding at the Pine Mountain Lake Stables & Equestrian Center. Specifically, we went on a weekend guided trail ride that normally goes for 1.5 - 2.0 hours.


Now I hadn't been on a horse since the sixth grade. And while I barely remember that, I'm pretty sure that adventure didn't last more than maybe half an hour or so. And the weather probably sucked too, as it tended to when the sixth graders went to the Storer Camp up in Michigan.

Me on Horseback

We had a very experienced guide, nice horses, great weather, and a scenic ride along the 400 acres of riding and hiking trails. It was all quite pleasant except for one not so minor detail.

My. Sore. Ass.

And knees!

I can appreciate the rustic nature of horseback riding: traveling on an animal through mostly unspoiled wilderness the same way that our forefathers did. It's a very romantic and low-tech sort of thing to do on a beautiful Sunday morning/afternoon (leaving out the moment when my cell phone rang, of course--that was kinda funny).

Kathleen on Horseback

But what I cannot understand is why on earth the horse saddles are so damned hard!.

Seriously folks. Let's take a bit of memory foam, Nerf, or even AstroTurf and glue it to that torture device that's politely referred to as a saddle.

Big Open Field (and sky)

Take a cue from the auto industry. Add a bit of foam and fabric to the mix. You don't see Honda or Ford trying to sell cars with hard plastic seats, do you? The 30 year old seats in my little airplane are infinitely more comfortable than a horse saddle!

Old Building

So after very careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that my body was not build for horseback riding--at least not three hours of it.

On the Trail

Thee hours? Oh, I guess I haven't mentioned the part of the ride (just before the two hour mark) where we ventured off into previously unexplored horse trails across the road. Again, the scenery was great, but I paid for it later. It took a while to find our way back out.

Funny Looking Tree

I thought the worst of it was the pain in my rear end, but when it came time to hop down off that horse and resume to walking, I was greeted by a previously unexperienced type of knee pain. It was slow going for a few minutes and then a gradual recovery.

Kathleen on Horseback

Will I ever go horseback riding again? Probably. But I'll do it for less time and probably bring something to sit on.


I don't mean to sound overly negative. I did get some nice pictures of the ride. And it may be incredibly immature of me, but horse farts still make me laugh a little bit. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at October 09, 2007 07:59 AM

Reader Comments
# Josh Woodward said:

*laughs* My ass still hurts from the ride I took along the beach in Half Moon Bay. Ouch.

on October 9, 2007 09:03 AM
# Rob Steele said:

It's an old joke but here's my favorite rendering of it. Start at the top:

on October 9, 2007 09:14 AM
# COD said:

My daughter spends 1-2 hours every day riding her horse, and half the time she doesn't even bother with the saddle. Have you ever watched an English rider at a posting trot? They aren't even in the saddle. They are essentially doing deep knee bends in rhythm with the horse while balancing in the stirrups. That looks infinitely more painful to me than actually using the saddle as it was intended.

Seriously though, given the environment that saddles exist in, anything less durable than high quality leather isn't going to last long enough to be useful.

on October 9, 2007 09:17 AM
# BillyG said:

You crack me up. That was the funniest JZ post yet.

btw: wazup with your hiddennetwork? j/k

on October 9, 2007 10:04 AM
# Laura Thomson said:

Heya want to be able to feel the horse beneath you for English riding, and as with any sport you do toughen up. For trail riding I recommend a seat saver, basically a sheepskin saddle cover to pad your backside.

I have bad knees so I ride with sprung stirrups - ah the wonders of modern inventions :)

on October 9, 2007 10:06 AM
# Hooda Thunkit said:


Horse farts still make me laugh, especially when they're from family members.

Watch those knees; bent is better than rigid/locked when dismounting. . .

The same thing also applies to....., oh, never mind ;-)

on October 9, 2007 10:25 AM
# said:

Hello. Sorry to intrude on what looks like a between-friends blog. I was looking for something horse related (but totally different) and found this. It's very funny w/ pretty pictures. Thanks for it.
Europeans think Western saddles are cushy arm chairs compared to 'English saddles,' which are like small planks of wood. If you were sore in America, thank god you weren't riding here.
COD. On an English saddle, rising trot is actually less painful than what happens to your derriere when you just sit. In England, they make riders practice rising trot ('posting') without saddle or stirrups, so nothing to balance your feet on, just lower leg strength to cling to the sides of the horse. I can't do it that way, but a friend of mine can. If your daughter is riding 2 hours a day, she may surprise you someday and do it herself!

on February 13, 2008 04:55 PM
# said:

Many people complain about soreness if they're not used to riding. The truth is, the saddle is the main means of support, it has to be sturdy. Filling it with 'memory foam' or 'nerf' and having the rider sink down in the saddle will make for some very bad riders and very confused horses, since many cues are given with the seat through the saddle. If the saddle doesn't support you, it will KILL your lower back.
It could also have something to do with where you sit in the saddle. Many people who don't know any better sit as close to the front of the saddle as possible. WRONG!!!!! You should actually sit slightly back, so that you feel the back of the saddle aganist your tailbone. This part is more cushioned and it should make riding much more comfortable.
As for the person who mentioned English posting and bareback, you are dead on. When you first start learning to post, you get off that horse and can barely walk. But like anything else, you get used to it. I've been riding for years and it doesn't effect me at all anymore.

on June 5, 2010 07:10 PM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.