Our expert says:
Not sure what it means when it comes to horse riding, only to running, so perhaps it's the same. In running, it happens because your breathing is too shallow, and that causes spasms or cramps in the muscles known as the diaphragm or the intercostal muscles. They control the breathing which is why it then hurts to breathe deeply.
To avoid them (or treat them) you have to force yourself to breathe slower and more deeply. Visualize pulling air all the way down into your lungs, down the belly button, instead of short, sharp breathing. I suspect this happens when you canter because the movement of the horse forces you to breathe differently. So you have to work at how you breathe, and that should solve it. It might be something medical, but I think it's more likely down to breathing.
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