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Do I have to quit horseback riding because of stenosis?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Spinal Stenosis
:S Hi, I'm new here. I have mild to moderate stenosis in L1-L5 and moderate to severe cervical stenosis in C3,C4, C5 & C6. I've lost 50-60% of the muscle function in my left leg and arm, now it's starting to effect my right leg too.

My PT told me when I started with him 3 months ago that I needed to give up horseback riding. Which is, of course, my favorite activity. When he told me this we didn't even know that I had cervical stenosis, let alone that it was severe. I have an appt with a neurologist in 3 weeks to explore my options.

Does anybody out there know if I truly have to give up riding? If I am careful, riding actually makes me feel better physically and certainly emotionally. I'll sell my horses if it means I will continue to loss function, but will not if it's only to cause less pain. The pain is bad but hey, horses are worth it :X

I'd really like to hear from some of you that have dealt with this rotten condition. Thanks ;o)


  • This is my question too. I've got my mare up for sale, but do I buy the new horse I'm looking at or pack it in? Without riding and horses my life will be sooo empty! On the other hand, I don't want to suffer more pain for more years than absolutely necessary...what say you, the experts? Shira
  • HI Shira,

    I have a feeling that us horse lovers are willing to put up with a lot to be able to continue to ride. It's so much more than just riding, it's the partnership with our horse and the social aspect with friends, it's the quite of the barn and the welcoming nicker when they hear you coming, the beauty of a trail that you could never get to on foot. Only riders understand the deep soul satisfaction of being around horses. I will figure out how to put up and deal with pain to continue riding. My main question.....will it cause permanent damage. Not sure that I'm willing to end up in a wheelchair....

    Good luck Shira. I'll let you know what the Neuro says and share any info I get that might be of help to you ;o)
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  • Hello,
    Iam not sure that riding would do the perm. damage but it's the what if fact. I have horses also and was told it is not a good idea because if there was an accident and I went off that could cause life threatning problems. You know you could have the most gentle horse in the world but there is also things that can happen out of your control. I made the choice not to ride anymore because it wasn't worth the risk to me. I think you need to weigh all of the pro's and con's and ask yourself if it is worth the chance......
    Good Luck
  • Thanks for the imput. Pretty much the same thing my PT told me. Funny thing is, riding is such a stress reliever for me that I feel better after I've ridden. Well...that is as long as it's a "quiet" ride..ha!

    While I agree that horse accidents are common no matter how gentle the horse or how good a rider one is, I could get hit walking across the street. Guess that's not too convincing of an argument is it? I just don't think I'm willing to give up riding to avoid an accident. That being said, losing function is not an option and I will quit riding if I'm convinced that the jarring alone will cause damage in and of itself.

    I see a neurologist on the 25th. She's an OD as well so I feel very confident that I can trust her recommendations on activities and that she won't recommend surgery unless it's absolutely needed.

    Thanks again for your imput ;o)
  • I was just diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis and the last 3 discs in my back are dried up and collasped. My primary told me no more horses. I was devastated. Needless to say I've ridden several times since then. I've been very careful and mostly just walking. I can't give up my riding! I just started pain management and that Dr. didn't say anything about not riding. I start PT soon and I'm going to see what they say.
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  • Wow you found a really old thread. Hadn't seen this in quite a while. Welcome to Spine Health. I too have stenosis and a myriad of other problems, however I ride at least 4 times a week and have been training a young horse for the past year now. I basically monitor myself for pain I know is not normal and if that occurs I back off. My neurosurgeon is fully aware of the fact that I ride and is very supportive of it.

    Sometimes we just have to go on with living life.

  • I am struggling with the same issues. I don't ride in the winter because I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but I am already wondering what to do next spring.

    I had a 2-level cervical fusion in June. I rode quite a bit this Fall. My lower back is bothering me now and I just got the MRI results back. Spondylothesis and spinal stenosis at L4-L5. Sometimes, it just seems like I can't win.

    I was thinking the back pain was from an L1 burst fracture 2-28-10. But no, this is a new thing.

    I will probably continue to ride. Yes, a lot of riding is about the companionship of your horse. And, it just plain feels good when you're doing it.

    Would love to hear more from other people.
  • Apparently I'm not alone. I have a stenosis in my lower spine and my PT (urban) told me to quit riding, I got another PT closer to my farm (rural and a rider himself) who basically said that it was my choice, as Ive always held it was. We agreed that I should take it easy riding, continue using the minimum amount of anti inflammatories and pain meds (as I always have)and call the doc if I have any problems. I am not about to let my problems turn me into a couch potato where my problems will likely get worse. After weighing the dangers versus desire to live my life, I still ride. I have a gaited horse, pick my trails more carefully, do not jump and quit when the pain says to.

    I have an appointment with a neurologist at a major hospital in the area is going to look at surgery using a new robotic, minimally invasive system. If that works I should be able to ride more, even if not at the same level I once did. Bottom line: it's my life and I choose to live it in a way that makes me happy.
  • I am still riding, but the pain is making me think twice. If I ride two days in a row, especially if we trot, I am hurting. Anybody have thoughts on this?
  • I started having pain in my right hip about 8 months ago, Had MRI and x rays done by orthopedic doctor he diagnosed me with stenosis in my lower spine, one severe area and several moderate areas. I have ridden since i was 10 years old and now 65. he dispensed Tramadol for pain which I feel I had a reaction to since it did not help pain and started having sever leg cramp in my right leg after being on it for several months . Started taking Valium at bed time to relieve leg cramp, Valium compleatly did away with leg cramp.Had to stop taking Tramadol because can not take them together. I always rode three gaited horses till in my 40s then started riding smooth gaited horses ( Walking horse and Racking Horse, they don't trot.) when hip and leg painful I stopped riding and believe I have gotten worse from not riding. A smooth gaited horse does not bounce you up and down but rocks you from side to side. Orthopedic doctor recommend PT but I believe in Chiropractor and doing my own PT with exercises. Did some research on line and found info that cold laser therapy helps stenosis . I have been receiving cold laser therapy at chiropractor twice a week for three weeks and am better. Info I read on cold laser therapy said usually takes 30 treatments to get really good results. I believe when I stopped riding it mad it worse because the rocking motion of riding my walking horse helped keep my back flexible.I have friends with back problems that ride smooth gaited horses and they say they get worse when they don't ride. I plan to start back riding and will give you an up date later( Spring of 2015) As far as getting injured riding a horse we are at risk everyday going up and down steps and driving a car (possible accident)
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