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Thread: what came first - your disability or your riding?

  1. #1
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    Default what came first - your disability or your riding?

    Question in the title Were you a rider before you had the problem you have? - or did the problem come first and then you took up riding anyway? And what are the challenges you've met along the way?

  2. #2
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    I was born with spina bifida but my arthritis (which causes most problems for me now) was after I started riding (my first lessons were when I was 7 then I had to give up until I was 12 as I had lots of surgery). So I was disabled first. I'm not going to say it hasnt been a challenge but I've always loved horses and always wanted to ride so I do it anyway! My main issues are with my ankle which has arthritis (was fused in march this year, Im starting riding again hopefully next week after over a year out). It means I struggle with my feet in the irons and with mounting & dismounting (plus I have nerve damage in both legs) so I get wobbly legs syndrome and lose my stirrups often so I end up with my feet right through the stirrups and my heels physically dont go down. I use a mounting block and ride short to keep my stirrups. But I manage! I just work out ways around things. I figure people can ride stirrup-less, so if I cant ride with them then I will just go without!

  3. #3

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    Hard to say, I was diagnosed with MS whilst studying for my AI, but at the time I had a very competitive boyfriend - we used to run a lap of Cadwell Park, then go swimming and finish off with a game of squash, then there was the mucking out and riding so I think my body was much abused! Needless to say, I no longer run, swim or play squash but will fight to keep riding. Had to stop riding for many years though as balance was shot and no feeling in my legs. My horse is the only way I can get to places I wouldn't be able to walk to so therapy in more ways than one.

  4. #4
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    OK, so not a physical disability, but this time 3 years ago, I was absolutely crippled by depression - I could barely leave the house, just going to the supermarket meant an hour of psyching myself up first. I was also ridiculously overweight and unfit. Getting back into horses has given me my life back, I've lost over 3 stone, and am the fittest I've ever been in my whole life, my confidence has grown, I have a great circle of friends and I've never been happier

  5. #5
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    I was born with EDS, but it really manifested during puberty. I'd always had problems with my knees and ankles, even when learning to walk, but it was just "normal" for me, so we didn't think anything of it. For the most part, I had significant flare ups with my knees and ankles a few times a year, but otherwise was relatively normal - I bruised really badly and was prone to soft tissue damage, torn ligaments and what I called "wonky joints" (which I now know were subluxations) but it wasn't until I was about fifteen that we started to think there was anything actually wrong with me. I can't say I ever notice my health going downhill, but if I think back to how I was in my teens, and how I am now, it's scary and upsetting. I used to think very little of mucking out several stables, and assumed that everyone's wrists and shoulders got "floppy" and painful doing that kind of job and could barely walk afterwards for back pain, whereas now (despite constant medication) I need assistance to do a single stable. I've been with my OH for four and a half years and he commented recently that from his perspective, I've gone downhill a lot in that time, despite medication, medical intervention and knowing a lot more about myself and my condition and managing it better. I believe very firmly in "use it or lose it" and I know if I give up the horses, which are one of the only forms of physical exercise I can manage now, I'll end up spending my life sitting on the sofa and won't even have the mobility I've got.

    I don't think it's really changed my riding, as such. I have the same pains and problems riding now that I've always had, I've just realised that my wonky back, poor proprioception and pathetic ankles aren't just flaws that can be improved with practise, but I've learnt to accommodate them as much as possible so that my faults don't interfere with my horse too much. The thing that took me longest to learn has been pacing myself and avoiding unnecessary risks, and I'm still not very good at it - I tend to get frustrated at myself The big changes have come from doing everything else - grooming, picking feet out, leading.... anything where I have to handle a horse has required training the horses to do a lot of things on verbal commands (including "caught", which means if I drop a rope over their necks, they pretend they've got a headcollar on if I can't manage it and follow me without having to be led) and I'm very reliant on verbal commands while I'm riding as if my hip, ankle or shoulder dislocates while I'm riding, I need to be able to get somewhere safe for me to dismount using minimal physical aids... and of course, the horses have had to become accustomed to being patient with me in these situations. I have to buy all my equipment with my disability in mind - grippy brushes, headcollars with clips so I don't have to use buckles, thick hoofpicks, boots that support my ankles or have room for supports, gloves that won't make my already poor grip worse, and I've moved onto rope reins, as I reached a point where I found it unbearably painful to grip leather or rubber ones. I'm very, very careful about handling or riding horses that aren't mine. Mine both know exactly what they can and can't do with me. They pick all their feet up on a verbal cue so that I don't have to bend far or strain my arms and back; they never pull when they're being led and they seem to know when I'm having a not-so-good day and tend to be a bit more careful. It would just be nice if they'd also apply this training to everyone else!

    The biggest challenge I've found has been other people's attitudes, to be honest. I'm damn determined to keep riding as often as I possibly can, and to continue keeping my horses even when I'm reduced to only visiting and having to either retire them, find riders for them or have them on full livery. They're my motivation to go out and actually do anything, and I consider them to be emotional as well as physical therapy. The horses don't care if I'm "normal" or not, even if it frustates me that I still have to ask for a significant amount of help to look after them. I am, I believe, my own worst enemy. I grew up being told I was a hypochondriac by teachers, friends and even my step-father, so I learnt not to talk about being in pain and to put on a happy face and pretend I'm fine, which means I tend to struggle on even if I know I'm going to set off a serious flare up because I feel I can't ask for help or let on that anything is wrong. I have been known to go and sit in the toilets at work to cry because I can't bear the idea of my colleagues seeing how much pain I'm in, or how frustrated I am that I'm struggling. I'm a swine for standing for too long, even when it becomes agony, because I feel so self-conscious sitting down, especially at the stables. So I suppose it's only natural that people assume that I'm faking it, citing the horses as their proof. My trouble is that althought I recognise that I'm only making my life more difficult, I haven't yet managed to get the idea into my head and actually accept that it's not a failing to ask for help and that if I sit down, people probably aren't looking at me and thinking that I'm just lazy.
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  6. #6

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    Riding came before injuries. I had a severe arm fracture which has led to a fuzed wrist. I dont want to see it as a challenge but as something to just adapt to.

  7. #7
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    I have been riding 25yeats and have been diagnosed with me for 5 though believe I was suffering a couple of years before diagnosis. I still ride tho can't manage as long a periods and I am hoping to do dressage with my lad but because my memory is shot I may well need it called I also ride with a whip on the left as suffer with a lot of pain in my left thigh which means instructing on that side can be on certain days impossible I am very lucky my boy is so tolerant but I refuse to give up as I love it too much

  8. #8
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    Riding came before my illness - nothing physically debilitating as such...
    i have acromegaly - a tumor in my head on my pituitary gland. My first diagnosis stopped me riding as needed an operation, sold my tb and a couple weeks later was rushed into hospital with a bleed in my head
    4 years later, I've had two failed operations, been left with adrenal deficiency, under active thyroid and inability for body to produce oestrogen - I had radiotherapy Xmas just gone. Who knows whether that will rid my tumor for good, I hope so as the second bleed caused tumor to press onto an optic nerve so I also now have double vision.
    I orgionally gave up horses as the operations would leave me immobile for upto 12 weeks - I couldn't afford them let alone go through the thought of them not getting what they need without me doing it!
    Getting rid of horses was a silly mistake, within two weeks of first op, I was riding a safe friends horse as depression was setting in and wasn't pleasant
    a year after my first op, I bought Midas as a celebration of things seeming to slow down! Then last June I was rushed in again with a second bleed and had lost my perfect vision! I was determined I wasn't giving up on Midas like I had the previous horse! The OH got a second job whilst I was off work and I was back on the yard within a couple weeks - getting back to him was the medicine I needed to keep me sane and see the optimism in life I was rapidly losing faith in.
    things are finally looking up with a fab horse and a busy comp season, I still don't know what the future holds and probably on meds for life but I'm only this far because of my horses x

  9. #9
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    Riding caused my injuries when I had an accident on the road during my work experience. I closed the road for three hours, enough said. I had only been riding for 18months so i wouldnt say i was a rider, I was a novice.
    I didn't want to work with horses anymore, not that it mattered since I was left with longterm health/injuries.
    I gave up riding but gradually got back into again starting from scratch on the leadrein. I told the stables I was ****** nervous but I was determined to get back on even if it was the once. I carried on and went on to have a old pony on loan I spent more time leading and getting off, these days its calked groundwork
    I am selective on what I ride, I don't get on anything, to this day I didn't want to ride the horse I was given that day.

  10. #10
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    Riding caused my PTSD. In fact Cher caused it!
    I was born with my haemachromatosis which is giving me some serious issues with arthritis now!!! My hands are starting to cripple!!!! :-(
    I'm quite surprised I am still walking to be fair. I've had 3 spinal fractures. Numerous finger and toes. Dislocated collar bone. Broken collar bone. Broken elbow. Broken wrist x 5. Broken ribs x lots!!!.... So yeah.... A bit battered over my riding career!!!

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