Horses - how have they helped to improve your health? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 01-27-2012, 03:37 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Riga, Latvia
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Smile Horses - how have they helped to improve your health?

We all know that horse riding and horses as such are beneficial to one's physical and mental health, so I'd enjoy to hear your stories about how horses have helped you as an individual.

As for me - I was born with a hip dysplasia in quite a severe form, and, though I was treated successfully, my right leg still is weaker, it slowly twists to the inside and makes me a bit limp, but, on bad days, when it hurts, not just a bit. I was not allowed to jump from heights and do extensive running, also many gymnastic moves are not reccomended. But, since I started riding, it's been only better - I'm barely limp now, hardly ever have that annoying pain, and I see visually that the hip now stays in its' place now, not twisting anymore. I'm sooo happy for it! Not even speaking about such general things as better balance and posture improvement.

I also have an Autistic spectrum disorder, which used to hold me back in life greatly, but since I'm with horses I've had a MAJOR breakthrough and now can feel and communicate almost normally, and also deal with my issues in a more controlled manner. For the first time in my life! And that's a hard to imagine happy kind of feeling.

Horses are fantastic healers. :)

I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
/James Wright/
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post #2 of 29 Old 01-27-2012, 07:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Philippines
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Glad to hear horses have helped you so much.

They have helped me in many ways. Physically, I'd definitely say I am pretty fit because of them, I jog along side my horses sometimes and that really helped when I tried out for the soccer team. ^^
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post #3 of 29 Old 01-27-2012, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Manitoba
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I'm more motivated to exercise as it will help with my riding. Also riding doesn't hurt my joints. I can't run or bike because of joint issues but riding only makes my muscles sore in a good way. I just wish I could ride more often and had my own horse so I could get more horse related exercise.
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post #4 of 29 Old 01-27-2012, 10:12 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Canada
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I have I guess would be mild depression horses are what keep me feeling okay. Knowing my horse needs me every day two or three times a day gives me a reason to keep going. Truthfully I didn't even realize it until my first horse died and for six months I didn't want to get up in the morning and that wasn't me I even quit working. When I got my mare it was easy again to get up, and I have a new full time job that I enjoy.

Having a horse at home also has the benefits of having a lot of physical activity every day too.
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post #5 of 29 Old 01-27-2012, 09:50 PM
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Location: Missouri
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I used to have terrible asthma. It was so bad that only walking uphill would trigger it.

I began to volunteer at a therapeutic riding center. I was given the task of "side walking" which means you basically place both hands on the child to hold them on the horse or if they needed extra support, or to be there incase something happened. Walk and trot, I would jog by the horse holding onto the kids.

At first it was unbearable, but I loved being there with the kids. I begun to ask to do other things, to take a break from all of the running but still get a good workout. I was tasked with setting up obstacle courses, refilling and cleaning water buckets, grooming horses.

By the end of the first month, my asthma was so much easier to manage. I kept on working, started to ride some greenies and whatnot.

At the end of the first year, my asthma was gone, my arms were strong, and I could easily run 5 miles and not get tired, sore, or breathe heavily.

I was fit.

Riding horses has given me strength, courage, and creativity. It's given me confidence and assurance and ability to trust in myself, things I can't control, and the unknown. It has taught me to be fearless and never give in.

Dream big, or get outta the barn!

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #6 of 29 Old 01-27-2012, 10:26 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Maine
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I've always been fortunate to be healthy and strong. I rode an average of 5 - 6 days a week, mostly alone, for at least 2 -3 hours each ride. Nothing fazed me, or stopped me.

Until two years ago, when I was told I had cancer. After surgery, faced chemo for 5 months. Felt out of control with my body, due to all the drugs and finally understood what it was to be mortal. On good days I could almost do what I was used to doing, the other days , just feeding the horses wiped me out. Got through treatments and expected to return to my normal self. How naive I was.

It took a full year and a half to finally recover from the chemo. Was in constant pain in the joints, legs and hips. Felt they would shatter at any moment, or let go and I'd fall. Where I once was able to run on my treadmill , I could barely walk on it. Another year of not riding to speak of.

Through it all, my horses are what I clung to, reminding me of the life I had before. The life I wanted again, but this time would appreciate and not take for granted. Feeding, cleaning , grooming , spending time with them got me through those frustrating and yes, frightening times. I put on a brave face for my family and friends, but with my horses I could cry and voice my fears. I thought that this was to be my life now, and I didn't want it.....not like that. It took me down to my core, and I understood why some opt out when there is no relief in sight. Scared the hell out of me.

I am so grateful that I've come out the other end of that dark tunnel. I'm in the light again, but with a new outlook. I am getting stronger and thank god, almost pain free. I will ride this wave as long as I can. For you see it's not a matter of if it will come back, but when. I will live in the moment and as they say, smell the roses!

My horses helped me , forced me , to look beyond myself and where I was. Their needs forced me to figure out new ways to meet the demands. Without them, it might have been too easy for me to wallow in where I was, and not try to keep participating, though differently, in life.

Sorry this was so long.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, "Oh crap, she's up!".
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post #7 of 29 Old 01-27-2012, 11:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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OH, what a beautiful thread. I can see this one going and going. Beautiful stories! I'll be back with mine... My horse, Journey, is changing my life.
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post #8 of 29 Old 01-27-2012, 11:42 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Ashland, OR
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Riding is the only thing that keeps me form gaining a ton of weight, honestly. I eat like a normal teenager, soda, hostess zingers/twinkies, chips and cake, pizza, giant double cheeseburgers and fries with a shake...Basically anything that would be classified "heartattack on a bun"....

But, when I'm at the barn, my trainer make me eat right. She makes healthy breakfast/lunches/dinners (Depending on what shift I work or when I'm there) because she won't let me show for her unless I am in physical shape to do it. That, and riding in itself is a huge workout. Along with all the chores that comes with it.

Plus, mentally, I'm pretty unstable. I'm bipolar like my Mom. When I was a freshman in high school I had horrible, rampant suicidal thoughts. I don't get them really now (with the exception of the month of november, when I had two people very close to me die, ontop of some other things I'd rather not talk about) but at the time the only thing that kept me from doing it was the horses and my trainer who always made me feel like I was wanted still, and like I actually was doing some good for someone and that I would be missed. Just the thought of going to the pasture to catch the next horse I was supposed to work, to see their faces, all in the frosty mornings and blowing steam out their noses when they nickered when they saw me.

As dramatic as that sounds, they really did save my life. I wouldn't be here typing this without them.
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Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #9 of 29 Old 01-28-2012, 12:33 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Chino Valley, AZ
Posts: 15,909
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When I purchased Aires last May, I weighed 186lbs (give or take) and was a size 18. I had NEVER been that size in my entire life, not even after I gained a ton of weight when I had my first (and thankfully, only) miscarriage several years ago. I felt horrible about myself because I was so heavy. I also had problems with my left knee (tore my meniscus and had to have surgery, but never did the physical therapy because of my insurance company), and was very easily winded.

Then, I bought this two-year-old 15hh unhandled, unbroke stud colt. I decided that I wanted him to have great ground manners (something my old gelding never had, regardless of how much I worked with him...old habits die hard) and be able to lunge well (again, something my old gelding wasn't very good at unless you had a whip). I wanted him to be exposed to as many new things as possible because I had big plans for this boy. I want to event with him, and after watching videos of eventing, I knew he needed to be prepared for anything. So, I started working on his ground manners first, then lunging, then taking him for walks through the neighborhood where he'd be exposed to dogs, cars, mailboxes, weird terrain, you name it.

Throughout this whole process, I was going to the barn daily, mucking his stall, grooming him, and, more often than not, taking long walks with him. I noticed gradually that the size 18s I was wearing weren't fitting, not even with a belt. So, I went to some 16s I got from my sister (who has recently lost quite a bit of weight as well). After a while, those didn't fit either, so I went back to the 14s I had been pining for. All of this happening without me really noticing it until right before Thanksgiving. All of a sudden, I realized that the one pair of size 12 jeans I had from a few years ago actually fit! I couldn't believe it. I hadn't worn a size 12 since right after my divorce back in 2007. I also noticed that I wasn't winded as easily and I had more energy. My knee still gives me problems, but I think that will always be an issue, no matter my size. The difference is, it doesn't give me problems nearly as much.

So, by making the decision to buy my beastly, I've become healthier and more active again.
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Do not tell me I can't...because I will show you that I can.
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post #10 of 29 Old 01-28-2012, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Riga, Latvia
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Wonderful stories, everyone. Our horses are the true angels. :)
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I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
/James Wright/
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