Riding and fibromyalgia
I've been doing equine assisted psychotherapy (all groundwork), and I've absolutely fallen in love with horses. I'm thinking of trying riding lessons, but I don't know if riding will be good or bad for my fibro. Anyone have fibromyalgia and ride?
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Hi! I say go for it. My mom has fibromyalgia, the worst case her doctor has seen. I also will probaby end up with it, if I don't already. She rides some, and mainly plays and grooms her gelding. She is always happy at the barn. Riding probably won't make you feel better, it might make you hurt for awhile afterwards, but if it makes you happy, that's what counts! If it doesn't work out, stick to just being with horses! I enjoy just being with them way more than riding. Go for it!!:-)
I have been riding for almost 16 years, the last 3 of those years with lupus. Riding that long, I don't let arthritis stop me unless it's really severe, and even then I tend to be able to bareback trail ride or ride around the ranch at least if I can't lift the saddle. If I end up permanently unable to ride, give ME the pink juice! :lol:
However, if you try riding and decide you aren't all that interested, there are LOTS of horses that aren't sound for riding, but could definitely be up to light-medium groundwork and would absolutely love to just be someone's grooming buddy!
Have you talked with your doctor? I'd probably start there (and, if you were going to ride with a therapeutic riding facility, you'd need a doc's assessment).
I think the biggest issue is just managing fatigue. You'd want to be sure you're working with a quiet horse with really steady movement (some horses just require more energy to ride if they have "big" movement), and be sure you were communicating with your instructor about when you needed a rest break or to change up the activities. You'll also want to talk about how much of the grooming/tacking up you want to take on prior to the riding portion of your lesson, as those prep activities can require a surprising amount of energy.
Every person is obviously different, but generally, therapeutic riding can certainly be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia.
Good luck! Glad you've enjoyed your horse adventures so much up to now.
I have a fairly advanced case of it. Your body needs you to exercise and build muscle to support it. I would take short rides, mount from a mounting block, and no horses that pull you. A quiet, lifted horse.
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I have hashimotos and suspected lupus (tests come back negative but I have lots of the symptoms) and I started really riding again back in May of 2012. At first it was the fatigue that was the worst. Even just lunging took a whole lot out of me. I would start getting stars in my vision and light headed. At that point Sky and I would go back to the barn and just hang until it passed. We did a lot of groundwork at first due to his various issues health wise and slowly worked up to more and more work. Today I have no problem with riding and grooming/tacking up then spending hours at the barn in the heat. Somedays are worse than others but Sky doesnt mind my bad days since it means lots of grooming and love for him with no work :) all that to say-it's a long process to build up to, but it's so worth it. OH and naps are my friend. All I need is an hour to rest on barn days and I'm good to go. I honestly have never been so healthy in my life!
Prior to RA I was a f/t colt starter and riding instructor with my own barn. I'm now a high school teacher - depending on my brains for my income... Since my body can not be counted on anymore :(
I have been riding with RA for 12 years now. 8 years were moderate RA - affecting feet & legs. 2 years were severe RA - could barely move, most joints affected. (And daily prednisone use gave me muscle pain + weakness as well) The last year-and-a-half I've actually been in an unexpected complete remission (painfree most days)
I did have to switch from trotting breeds to gaited breeds by 2004 - when RA took out my ability to use stirrups. During and after super flare in '09 - I was still a riding instructor on Saturdays. 12 year old daughter taught students to tack up. And I used a lesson horse as my 'legs' as I instructed in the arena. My horses adapted and went from physical cues to verbal cues when I rode them.
The 'freedom' the horses gave me during the period that I could barely walk/move was a mental life saver! They lifted my spirit by allowing me to feel somewhat normal while on their backs. I would recommend an older gaited horse - racking type breeds & pasos are the smoothest. And the shortest one that can handle your weight. (I ride a very calm 13hh spotted saddle pony. I'm only 4'10")
If you are an experienced rider - you should be able to identify your own areas of weakness and find a suitable horse. If you are not experienced - find a lesson facility that can accomodate your needs. Around my area there are no therapeudic riding centers that work with adults - they focus on the youth. You may have a similar situation. But many smaller lesson facilities will work with adults that have physical limitations.
I have fibro and arthritis, and I ride and train! :) It's a great exercise to keep your body mobile, and of course, provides awesome motivation!
Good for you, and keep it up! Some days a flare makes it hard to work, but if you stay strong, you can do it!
I have fairly "advanced" fibro, as well as crohns AND colitis along with chronic migraines. I ride any and all types of horses. Riding is actually what helps me the most with managing my pain. If I miss time out of the saddle my body starts screaming at me. Exercise is one of the best things to help keep fibro in check in my experience :-)
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