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Herniated discs and horseback riding?

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  • Disc problems and horseback riding therapy
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    10-10-2012, 04:20 PM
First off I have to say I sure know what you must be going through. Don't give up on riding, but be careful.

I herniated two lumbar disks back in the 1980's. I was unable to walk for awhile due to severe pain and pain in my leg, but I opted to not undergo surgery. Gradually, over time, and with a home health nurse, I did get better and was able to walk again, altho I can't walk very far or for very long. Fast forward to the present day; the disks are now gone (they deteriorated basically) and it is basically bone-on-bone, with a few other issues as well now. I'm real careful what I do, and still have no plans to have surgery (a multi-level fusion would be needed, and I hope to avoid that), unless it gets to the point where the spinal cord is at risk of becoming compressed, so far it is not looking as if that is the case, yet. There were times I wasn't able to ride much or at all, and when I did ride I pretty much just walked my horse, or when I did trot I made sure I always posted to the trot.

One thing I noticed, and so many people found this hard to believe, but for me horse back riding was no where near as painful as riding in a car. For me, riding helped my joints and muscles to be less painful, as long as I kept my feet directly underneath me, like you do when you ride a horse, I did pretty good as long as I didn't overdo it. Also, now that I am older and my back is a bit more messed up due to the passing of time, if I should ever get another horse (I'm horseless right now) I am seriously thinking of a gaited breed.

Hang in there, and never give up!

ETA: I wanted to add, cycling has also helped me too, I had to make sure I bought a bike that allowed me to sit more upright though. And, as for chiropractors... I know everyone is different... but for me and my disk issues, I cannot, and will not ever again, let a chiropractor touch my back, it's just too much of an aggressive form of treatment for my spine. Altho some people have had luck with it, I would be very careful there.
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    10-10-2012, 04:53 PM
I get a horse magazine and they had a story of a woman who had back problems, due to them she had sold all of her horses. 10 years later she went to her friends house and rode her Missouri Fox Trotter. She said it was like ridding a cloud, she could not feel the horse moving it felt like she was standing still. That is how smooth it feels. I say take a horse, no madder what breeed take the rains and go!
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    10-10-2012, 04:55 PM
Originally Posted by Remali    
First off I have to say I sure know what you must be going through. Don't give up on riding, but be careful........
As I continue to read this thread, I'm reminded of the old joke about the guy who went for his yearly physical and when it was over he asked the doctor how long he would live. The doctor replied "well, you don't drink, you don't smoke, you don't drive fast cars, you don't chase women and you never take ANY risk...... You might live to be 100, but WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO?"

I echo what Remali said: Don't give up!
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    10-14-2012, 10:04 PM
My partner has both herniated and collapsed discs in her mid and lower back. It causes a lot of problems for her, but she's got a ridiculously high pain tolerance and pushes through it. Doesn't stop her from doing what she wants, lol.

That said, she says riding is one of the most therapeutic activities out there for her. The less she rides, the more her back bothers her. She says because of the core strength it takes, and how much it strengthens her back muscles, it helps more than hurts.

On a side note, and I wouldn't recommend this if you haven't ridden in a long time as you say, we ride bareback. She likes it better because his motion isn't as jarring and it takes more strength, therefore making her back stronger.

All in all, be careful and take necessary precautions, but in my experience, it is quite beneficial. :)
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