Bad ankle, need ideas, suggestions to get back in the saddle! Please read! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 08-17-2014, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Bad ankle, need ideas, suggestions to get back in the saddle! Please read!

Hello everyone, I hope you take the time to read as I am desperate and ready to get back to riding! Long story short, I have a terrible left ankle, broke it about 2 years ago riding and have had 4 reconstructive surgeries and 5 ankle surgeries all together. I have very little movement…just about at neutral and due to all the surgeries and trauma Ive lost movement as time has gone on. Its still very painful but thats another story. I am horse crazy and want to get back to riding…I rode today for the first time and it felt amazing to get on! I did lots of walking and decided to try a little trot to see how it feels. Unfortunately it is still fairly uncomfortable but my biggest problem is that I have such little movement my heel doesn't go down at all and when I try to post its super uncomfortable. My foot kind of rolled out and every time I went to post its like I was posting on the ball of my foot…or right underneath my toes.
I have the flexible stirrups and I couldn't really tell a difference. I need help!!! Its so frustrating not being back to ride but I feel like there has to be something out there to help. Is anyone familiar with handicapped riding stirrups irons or boots or anything that might be a suggestion? I feel like there has to be other people out there in a similar situation that might have a special stirrups iron or some therapeutic riding experience maybe…. I tried to google it and had no luck, but also don't really know what to search for.

Please!!! If anyone has any suggestions or websites to check out please let me know!!
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post #2 of 9 Old 08-17-2014, 09:41 PM
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If today was your first day back in the saddle, then take a breath and relax. You are not going to be where you were when you last rode, be happy that it went as well as it did. How much range of motion are you expected to regain? Have you done/are you doing physical therapy? Anything that helps improve range of motion should help, but don't overdo it. There are a bazillion different types of stirrups out there, but I would have someone check your foot position.
Good luck, and keep riding.
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post #3 of 9 Old 08-17-2014, 10:44 PM
Green Broke
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Are you currently doing any physical therapy? I've broken my left ankle, right wrist, and had a left knee replacement. Thanks to pt I can ride for hours now with less pain than I had before.

And, gypsybell is right. Your first time back in the saddle is only going to tell you that you CAN. If you managed to do it, then you're going to be fine. But I would seriously consider a very good physical therapist.
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post #4 of 9 Old 08-18-2014, 05:14 AM
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I rode a horse in a western saddle, the owner was a physically disabled lady who had less control over her left side.

She'd taught the horse to stand when she mounted from the right, and had those bucket type stirrups where they have a case around your toes? And fixed elastic bands from either side and around her heel so they'd snap in an emergency.
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post #5 of 9 Old 08-18-2014, 05:59 AM
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Don't rush yourself in your enthusiasm; pushing too much can backfire.

Realize that horses are very adaptable. I had a woman student who had Parkinson's Disease. Of course she had never ridden before, so she didn't have high expectations. Still, she learned to walk, trot, turn, stop, and back. We had to modify the cues, but she worked out a language with the horse that satisfied them both. Some horses learn different "languages" better than others of coarse, just like some people.

You should feel no necessity to post. While posting can be beneficial at times, a good rider should learn to sit the trot. A sitting trot allows greater contact with the horse and, thus, greater access to communication. Much subtlety in riding can be achieved through slight changes in balance and pressure when sitting in the saddle.

If your horse is particularly bumpy, you might be able to lighten your seat a little by putting a little extra pressure on the stirrups without actually posting; you need not even show light between your seat and the saddle. It is important, however, to keep your knees relaxed. In fact, you should try to release any tension within the muscles around your pelvis and throughout your legs and feet. This includes the muscles in your crotch.

Much of the problem people have sitting the trot is caused by tension. Tense muscles are less able to absorb the bumping of the trot. Tense muscles in the crotch raise the rider's center of gravity and make the rider's seat less stable. When a rider releases tension in his muscles, gravity is allowed to do its job. The rider's seat softens and flows into the saddle. The rider's legs wrap naturally around the sides of the horse much like a cooked noodle would wrap around the sides of a bottle lying on the kitchen counter. There is no squeezing, only adhering. As a rider's weight is drawn downward by gravity, his center of gravity is lowered making his seat more stable. Gravity pulls downward on the rider's feet creating a firm contact with the stirrups. Generally, gravity would continue to pull the rider's heels lower than the balls of his feet. In your case, this might not be possible, but there is little to worry about. The flexibility of peoples' ankles, tendons, and muscles vary. The important thing is to relax and let gravity do its job.

Releasing tension in the muscles also allows the rider to better follow the motion of his horse's muscles as it moves. When a rider is without tension, well balanced, and moving with his horse, the horse can relax. His muscles will soften and his movement will become smoother and more flowing. This makes the horse's movement even easier for the rider to follow.

If you concentrate on these things, I think you will become excited about the improvement in your riding and forget about the limitations created by your surgeries.
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post #6 of 9 Old 08-18-2014, 04:26 PM
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Have you tried sprenger stirrups to help a bit? They're not a magic fix but they really help, although are very pricey. Secondly take your time, you've got all the time in the world to get your ankle working, or could you ride without stirrups and just let your leg stay neutral? Another option, again very pricey is maybe the freejump stirrups and boots. They have magnets in each to help keep your feet in the right place. I've never done anything as major as what yours sounds like, but I broke my femur and patella in a riding accident and really mashed my growth plate as well. when I was coming back to riding I rode with my left leg just "dangling" and tried to use it ever so slightly and when I couldnt use it enough id just use a schooling whip behind my leg. Then I started to just use one rubber spur on my left foot so my aids were even until I regained all my strength. Mine wasnt as bad as yours by the sound of it though, so just really take your time, dont rush, and if it hurts take a step back. Speak to a physio to see if theres any exercises they can recommend.
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post #7 of 9 Old 08-18-2014, 09:09 PM
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Actually, the Sprenger flex stirrups might be too much movement for her, for now. try non flex irons, at first, and see if that's better or worse.

Last edited by tinyliny; 08-18-2014 at 09:28 PM.
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post #8 of 9 Old 08-18-2014, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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Hey everyone, thank you for your response. Sorry if I sounded to gun-ho about riding. I just was competing and doing so much before I got hurt I am very anxious to get back in the saddle. I have ridden a few times and figured I would reach out for advice or suggestions.

To answer the question many of you are asking, yes, I am doing physical therapy. I started therapy after my last surgery. I started in the beginning of May. I go 2-3x a week and also see a massage therapist who works on my on my leg/ankle for over an hour. So, lots of PT and still planning on going for many months to go. Last time I went for a check up, the DR said I won't really be gaining any more movement. I am just about at 90 degrees. I might gain a tad bit more but not much. I mainly just have to get used to what I have.

I have ridden now a few times without stirrups and I agree, it is great. it will help me get back into shape and get my seat back…the sitting trot is really fairly easy for me and came back very quickly, but at some point I do want to be able to post and ride in a jump saddle so that I can get back to that at some point.
I do have the springier stirrups, bo balance ones. I have ridden in them, and then regular stirrup irons and can not tell the difference.
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post #9 of 9 Old 08-29-2014, 05:23 AM
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I second the idea of riding without stirrups as much as possible and posting without stirrups when you feel up to it, because ideally the lower leg should be sitting very still when posting. The stirrup is just to rest your foot on, not to push up when posting - the upwards movement of the rider is best produced by allowing the horse's movement to lift you slightly - and your muscles should actually be working on making that movement minimal. You probably already know all that anyway. I was going to ask - does riding in longer stirrups reduce your discomfort? Say riding dressage length? And regularly taking your feet out of stirrups when you're not riding stirrupless, and circling your ankles gently to improve circulation?

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