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horseback riding

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Arthritis, Osteoarthritis
I'm a newby. I have had reactive arthritis since I was a teenager and I am now 60. I have been very fortunate to be able to control the progression of the disease over the years, but in the last year and a half it has gotten away from me. My signature lists my current challenges. I own 4 horses and riding has been one of my great pleasures. When done correctly, it is a low impact, great form of exercise and it has, until recently, generally made me feel better the more I am able to do it. In the past 6 month that has changed. I have been losing strength in my legs and my ability to stay down in the saddle is compromised. One of my Dr.s and my PT tell me I should not ride any more. I am to have an MRI in a week. Until then I am staying off the horses. What are the chances that I will be able to rehab. and come back and build strength again from my current situation? I feel unstable on a horse at the moment and like riding does impact my spine because I don't have the leg strength to do it well.


  • Hi and Welcome to Spine Health. I'm sorry that I didn't see this post sooner and I'm bummed that no one has really been able to offer up any personal experiences for you.

    The big thing, is to wait and see what the MRI reveals. No sense in risking your welfare at this point.

    I grew up riding horses and miss them terribly. I can understand how this would hit you so hard.

    What part of your spine are they going to look at?

    Please let us know how it goes and if you need to talk, you can PM me anytime. I am in Japan so I'm on a different time schedule but will reply as soon as I can.

    Take care,

  • Thanks for the reply. They are looking at T-12, L-1, I think. I am definitely not riding until I understand better what is going on.
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  • Hi Ruth Ann,
    I totally understand how difficult it is to even think about not riding anymore. I have 3 horses myself. Right now I am still riding albeit more carefully than I used to. Trying to keep it to a nice easy walk down the trail with my friends. I will be happy if I can just keep doing this. But I also am not having any kinds of instability like you.

    There are several people on this list who ride. One even had a fusion and is back to showing. Maybe someone else will chime in. I'd also be interested in hearing how your riding goes in the future. Good luck.
  • Hi Ruth Ann,

    I'm 15 years old and also a spondylitis sufferer and an equestrian. I have given up most of my sports, but could never give up riding as I've been at it since I was 2 years old. Since being diagnosed a few months ago, I've lost some strength in my legs and know how that can impact your back. I understand how spondylitis affects your whole body, not just your spine, so I can absolutely sympathize with you. For me, keeping my legs (especially calves and inner thighs), abs, and back in shape out of the saddle is very helpful. Keeping all the muscles in my body strong while out of the saddle aleviates the stress on my back when I ride. I try to ride as much as possible because I'm a foxhunter, and I really need to keep myself in good condition. Because I'm an english rider, I spend a lot of time in two point, riding without stirrups, and going for nice easy canters when I'm having a bad bout to keep myself in shape and flexible. I think that moderate riding is very therapeutic. You should talk to your doctor about exercises you can do to strengthen your muscles in the mean time. I hope some of the things I've said will be helpful to you. Let me know how you're doing and if you have any advice for me. Good luck with everything and I hope you're doing well.

  • I have been thru a simular problem. You could always where a back brace while you are rinding. remender exercies is the best thing for you. Even you only walked you horse for an 1/2 hour. Remember that handicap people ride and it helps them.
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  • I horseback ride on gaited horses. I wear a back brace. My PT's always helped me do special exercises. I have a SCS and I'm sure I'll have a pattern for horseback riding too. I arrange meds too. When I'm really hurting, a good horseback ride can make me feel better. The getting on and off can be a bit tricky. I'm determined to keep this as part of my life. although I know that there are times I can't. Horses are so good for the soul too. Even if i don't ride, I can spend time with them. Hope this helps.
  • Ah this is one thing that I can def. relate to. I grew up riding, started training rescues, and working with off the track thoroughbreds. I've since gone from "Do not get on a horse ever again" to "Do not work with them at all" (I'm hoping that one will change someday).

    I feel for you not being able to ride and hope you can again soon!! It's so good for your state of mind. Horses are so therapeutic. It's like they have their own little sunbeam vibes coming from them<3
  • Glad I found this thread.

    I had an L4/5 discectomy in November last year after a disc prolapse. (I also have numerous other spinal problems including osteoarthritis). I was absolutely determined to keep riding, it is my life. But I spent a very stressful time after my op wondering if it would be possible. My doctor wasn't that supportive of me continuing to ride as he felt the jolting action wasn't good for my spine. I couldn't believe that I would have to give up my only passion, and I wanted to see if there was a way to keep riding.

    After my op, I found a PT who specialises in spinal/sports rehab to help me with my recovery. His advice to me in terms of riding was basically to "try it and see if you can". I started riding about 8 weeks after my operation. The hardest part is getting on and off. I make sure I have someone with me to help me when I am mounting and dismounting, and use a mounting block. I spent the first few weeks just in a walk, and then tried a little trot (all good). I then built up to cantering in two-point position. Three months on from my op, I am able to sit at the canter and am I riding for about an hour 3-4 times per week. I haven't tried to do sitting trot or jumping yet. I think that is still a little while away. I hope to be back out competing in dressage in a few months.

    Walking, swimming and pilates have all been very helpful in my recovery.

    Best of luck to all the horse back riders out there.

  • Hi elizab,

    I was so happy to read your story. I never thought there would be any riders on this website and was so surprised to see these posts. People think I'm crazy still wanting to ride but it's my passion. I have 3 horses sitting in my backyard and I'm just dying to ride them. I actually just bought a 2 year old gelding that I hope will be my new jumper someday - seems a bit nuts since I can't even brush them but oh well :)

    I hurt my back picking up my daughter a year ago and just 2 months ago had a microdiscectomy on L5-S1, I also have a herniation at L4-L5. My surgery was not successful so I'm probably having another in a few weeks. I've been so depressed and frustrated and feel like I'll never ride again.

    Your post gave me some hope, so thank you.
  • Hi, I'm new to this site and was very tickled to see other riders. I have five horses and am 68 years old. I have herniated discs and sciatica. Not as serious as many of you but very painful at times and a fall could be very dangerous. Just wanted to let you all know that there are so many fun and wonderful things you can do from the ground. I have a five year old QH that I have started with clicker training. I always end the session laughing. He loves it and along with my dog are the clean up crew as they hand me things from the ground, etc. When I don't feel well enough to ride I can still do so much with them and they are better for the ground work in the long run. I love just being around horses and if the time comes I can't ride I will still be out there doing fun things with them.

    Cheers, Charlotte
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