Ladies, there’s no delicate way to say this. Boob. There it is. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about them and how they can affect your ride.
You’ve seen this picture before. Beautifully tacked horse, rider decked in gorgeous breeches, a sparkly helmet, well-shined tall boots…and then…she picks up the trot.
And yet, we don’t say anything. She must know…right? Why isn’t the trainer saying anything?
Here’s the thing, it’s not just larger breasts that need to be kept under control, all breast sizes, big and small, bounce – and bouncing does damage. So, even if your boobs are not giving you black eyes every time you ride, you need a better sports bra.
There is no muscle tissue in breasts, just fatty tissue, and all that’s holding them up are fibrous strands known as Cooper’s ligaments. When you move, especially in high-impact activities, your boobs move independently, not only bouncing up and down, but also swinging from side to side. When this pattern of movement becomes repetitive, the weight of poorly supported breast tissue can cause the ligaments to stretch. Once the damage is done it can never be reversed. Result: droopy boobs.
Now, if you’re an A cup, you might think this doesn’t apply to you, but even small breasts bounce around a huge amount. Don’t just take my word for it; take a look at the “bounce-o-meter” video featured on the Shock Absorber website and be amazed (also be advised, the flash animation is slightly NSFW – ed.). You might also think that the bounce factor doesn’t apply to you because you’re riding but consider the amount of vertical movement generated by posting to the trot, especially if your butt is bumping along as you ride. Even at advanced levels, as effortless and smooth as it looks, when you’re in the saddle, you’re moving vertically. The bouncier your horse, the more vertical movement you experience.
Less Bounce, Better Movement
Scientific research revolving around female runners shows that changing the type of bra a woman wears as she runs also changes the way she runs. It’s no huge leap of the imagination to assume that the same can be applied to equestrians. Riding well is all about moving with the movements of the horse. If your movements as the rider are being affected by the movements of your boobs, its affecting how you ride.
Without adequate support, you run the risk of developing tension and fatigue in your upper back and neck muscles. That tension will have a direct impact on your horse’s ability to relax and move freely under you. Moving against the movements of your horse is inevitably going to create further tension in your body. This becomes a vicious cycle that will fatigue both you and your horse as you work against each other.
Types of Support
The right bra for you will depend on your cup size, but sports bras fall into two main categories: compression and encapsulation. As the name suggests, compression-style bras squeeze both boobs into one space and flatten them down, creating a “uniboob” effect. It may not sound particularly sexy, but this style can provide adequate support for smaller breasts. For B cups and larger, encapsulation-style bras are best. They encapsulate each boob into a separate space and thereby minimize the side to side movement as well as the up and down bounce. Again, it may not sound particularly sexy but there are some fabulous designs out there once you know what you’re looking for.
Ban the Bounce
In terms of improving your riding or your horse’s way of going, the most important piece of kit to invest in may not be a flashy new saddle or any other state-of-the-art equine gadgetry, it might simply be a good sports bra.
So, there you have it. Ladies, for your own comfort and that of your horse, let’s wrangle those sweater ponies and ban the bounce!