Sunday, August 3, 2008

Let's talk about pain!

As one alert poster observed, I ride like my back hurts. Yep, I do, because it does. 24/7 to varying degrees. It hurts a lot when I get up in the morning. It hurts enough to make tears come to my eyes if I have to stand in one place for long periods of time. Riding actually helps loosen it up but I have some degree of back and neck pain 24/7 and it's been like that for a long time. I can trace it to an accident at age 15 where I went ass-over-teakettle into an arena wall, but really, all the wear and tear since hasn't helped any.

This is not unusual. Most of us realized around age 30 that our bodies no longer felt the way they used to, and if we've had some painful spills, that was even more true. By 40, the arthritis and age related stuff starts to set in as well. I have a bad back, a locking knee, and ankles that crack like a 16 year old OTTB's when I walk stairs.

Most riders my age tell the same tales. Riding is not easy on the human body, particularly if you've ridden competitively or trained for a living. You can always identify the trainers at a horseshow - they are lamer than the oldest schoolie, hobbling from show ring to barn area with a perpetually hunched back. They all look like they need 2 grams of bute and possibly a shot of vodka to chase it. Now, add the fact that most of the professional horsepeople I know either have no health insurance, or no time to go to the doctor (I have the latter scenario) and - let's be honest here - we horsepeople are infamous for hating the doctor. I freely admit to the statement "I go to the doctor - if they drag me there unconscious while I can't protest." I tend to treat my aches and pains with lots of Advil, applications of horse liniment and the occasional shot of vodka. That's pretty typical. I have pointed out MANY times that if we only took as good care of ourselves and paid as much attention to rehabbing our injuries as we do if it's our horse with the problem, we'd be in a lot better shape - but it seems like almost none of us do. (Why is that? Why is it so many horsewomen, for example, have their horse's nutrition down to a science, yet can't put themselves on the same strict plan and lose the extra weight or just plain eat more healthfully? I mean, hell, I'm guilty. The horses have supplements for whatever they need, but do I take a vitamin? Uh, no.)

So as we age, we're not only dealing with increased fear issues, but most of us are dealing with pain issues. Yet we want to ride. None of us want to take the doctor's advice and take up a kindler, gentler sport more suited to aging bodies. And hey, we all saw the video about the 102 year old cowgirl...if she can do it, why can't we?

What's your pain issue? Do you know why you have it (i.e. a specific accident) or is it just wear and tear related? Have you been good and received actual medical care for it, or are you self-medicating? Does it affect your riding? Are you doing things like yoga or pilates to help regain your lost flexibility and strengthen your muscles to help deal with it? Why are we all so bad about taking care of ourselves?


Theresa said...

I'm 34 and a life-long rider. I have chronic back and knee pain. The knee pain is from a motorcycle accident (I'm up to three knee surgeries now and am looking at a knee replacement in about 20 years, the doctor warns), but fortunately for me it doesn't affect my riding except for mounting and dismounting and really long trail rides. I just don't mount from the ground much anymore and spend a lot of time with my feet out of the stirrups on long rides. Problem solved.

The back pain has its roots in my right hip. Something to do with my SI joint. I've had a CT scan of my back and legs trying to track down the problem (they never found a definite answer). I've been doing physical therapy and chiropractic stuff for years off and on. The pain is manageable but never goes away. I stretch pretty much every night before I go to bed or else I can't sleep because of the pain. Whoo boy, can't wait to see how that progresses with age...

The back pain mostly feels better when I ride (it loosens up), but sometimes riding aggravates it. I will never admit that to the chiro though because he already frowns on me riding with a bad back.

My theory though is that I'd rather ride and be in pain than have a pain-free, riding-free existance. What's the point of having a perfectly-maintained body if you can't use it to do the things you want to do?

Anonymous said...

I'm 22, I got thrown off a 2 and a half year old unreliable pos who should not have been ridden yet (duh) and when I say he bucked vertically, i remember looking down and going "holy shit I'm getting launched, there is no sitting this". I used to have this mantra when a horse bucked which was just heels down shoulders back hands up, and I rode so many piece of crap school horses getting bucked on was part of my daily riding. But this, this was huge.

So I got launched across the arena landed curled over on the small of my back. Took 10 or 15 minutes to get up (which is unheard of for a 15 year old barn rat, we were supposed to bounce) and, of course, didn't go to the doctor. Well a year later it still hurt to lay on my stomach. Did physical therapy blah blah. Whatever.

I tore a tendon in my lower back, it healed crooked. If I show hard, lesson hard, work out hard, or am sick it hurts like hell. If I'm fatigued, it hurts like hell. And it's the strangest back pain because it's this one single location in my lower back.


Latigo Liz said...

Lower back pain. Comes and goes. I have a referral from my doc to go see a PT. Have I gone yet? No. Why? My back pain, that was so bad I went to the doctor to ask for help, ended up going away.

My pain probably the result of a nasty fall I took in college. Of a horse of course. Fifteen year old Araloosa Patches and I were running in the big pasture we always ran in, full tilt gallop. At the end of the spot we usually begin to slow down. That day, Patches spooked at something and took a 90° turn left. I didn’t. I continued to straight ahead. Landing on the small of my back, right above my tail bone, right where a lot of fools these days are getting their tramp stamps. My wind was knocked out of me pretty bad. I had also landed on a sizable buried rock I think. I could barely walk back to the gate where Patches returned. Can you say herd bound?

It swelled up pretty big. I took lots of Advil and iced it. Probably should have gone to the ER or at a minimum the doctor. Never did. My mom never forced me (I was still living at home).

Ever since, I have intermittent lower back pain. Some days are fine, but some are hell. Back when I was pregnant with my son it was the worst.

The PT specializes in women with sacral pain, attributed to being a “woman,” built to bear children, etc. Men don’t seem to have the same kind of pain in this area.

Maybe I’ll go see that PT soon. Maybe not.

verylargecolt said...

I actually had some PT for my back at the time, but I think once you ruin your lower back, it is a life-long, unfixable maintenance issue and most of us aren't doing the right maintenance.

Karen V said...

Butt (?) pain - I was bucked off by a 14.2 gelding in April 2008. I landed on the top of my pelvis. Below the lower back and above the tail bone. While I didn't break anything, I did separate my pelvis. The two halves move independently of each other. I had inflamation of the nerves and hobbled around for about two weeks, eating ibuprofen like M&M's.

After two weeks, I felt "better" and got on my barrel horse, the most trust-worth and best trained horse that I have. We walked and trotted fine. I asked her to lope. No problem. I kept the ride short and was walked back to the gate to get off. I shifted in the saddle and a bumped her by accident. She lifted into a lope, just as I'd unconsiously cued her. The cantle barely "popped" me in the backside. I thought I was going to toss up my lunch down the shoulder of my horse. My eyes watered. I got dizzy. I was CLEARLY back on too soon.

After sitting hunched over my poor confused horse for 5 minutes, trying not to puke or pass out, I managed to get off and walk back to the barn. I took another 6 weeks off to make sure I was healed. I still get sore, but for the most part, I'm over this injury.

Finger pain - When I was bucked off, I jammed or bent my middle finger on my left hand backward. I don't know what happened. I know it was injured. It swelled up twice the size it should be. The tendons or ligaments on the side toward the little finger is still VERY sensitive. I still can't make a fist like I should and I guard the finger when I ride.

Knee Pain - Specifically, the ligament in front. (Or is it a tendon?) The one just below the knee cap.

This pain is TOTALLY self-inflicted! I ride like crap! I tend to tense up and push down with the balls of my feet, letting my heels raise and my toes run forward.

I had a trainer "put" me into correct form. It felt horrible. I know where it is, and I could probably "find" it, but normally, I'm lazing and revert to my very bad habits!

Thank God my horse are patient and forgiving!

smottical said...

When I was 14, my young TB fell on me. I didn't fall off...he fell ON me (it was my fault). My foot got twisted in the stirrup, and with a lovely sickening crunch, got fractured in for places and dislocated a bone. The doctors told me I would walk with a cane by the time I was 30. Every foot doctor I've seen has laughed at the x-rays and said there's nothing I can do except wear custom shoe inserts and try not to go barefoot or stress it too much.

I'm supposed to take glucosamine/chondritin, MSM, which I did for about a year and it really helped. However, these days I can't seem to remember a pill every day to save my life...much less the 3-4 horse-sized capsules of that crap I'm actually supposed to be taking.

That said, I'm doing pretty well. It only hurts me when it is cold or if I've walked too far or worn flip flops all day. I wintered in PDX in 2006 and there were a few days when I could barely hobble to the bus stop. But down here in Texas it doesn't bother me all too much.

I still have major fear issues, however, about riding outside somewhere that it might be muddy. I also have an aversion to saddles, and tend to ride greenies bareback instead.

Latigo Liz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Latigo Liz said...

Edited for spelling/grammar...

Oh, and sitting at the computer, which I do for “work,” when I am working and which I do way too much of at home anyway, enhances the pain. And weeding and gardening make it intolerable, too. Thankfully, riding usually makes it feel better. Or I should say uneventful riding does. Bronc rides usually make it worse. Ariel wasn’t one to cooperate in that department quite a bit of the time. And Buena can be her own little pile driver when she’s had a lot of time off.

Jackie said...

I'm 51, and have a bad left hip (genetic arthritis that has traditionally led to hip replacement in our family) and bad right knee (horse falling on it's side with me on top, damaging it), so when I ride I find I bear weight more on the un-hurting side and have to compensate for it. That may also be why I ride toes out (although I tend to walk pigeon-toed, go figure). That doesn't include all the aches and pains of getting older...right now I've been battling bursitis in my left shoulder to elbow, and whenever I feel better (but not 100%) I do something to aggrevate it (like lift bales of hay or help with the car motors). And it seems harder to just ingore and work past the pain! Yes, I have vitamins...sitting in the cupboard. Glucosamine does work for me...when it's in my body. I need to exercise to get my core stronger...I am basically strong w/extra padding ;). And I do intend to ride at 100 or older ~ and get better at it. Riding does help when I have lower back & hip pain (why can't I lift weight like I used to?), so I make a point of riding when I hurt.

Jackie said...

Oh, can't forget siatica from lifting a trailer door and the leaf spring broke when I was 4 months pregnant...that nerve will inflame at the wrong time...riding helps that, too!

horse power said...

Have you tried Surpass? It's the horse anti-inflamatory cream you can get from your vet. It works great for aches and pains. We've used it for knee injuries, back pain, sore muscles... It works better than anything I've tried.

Stelladorro said...

My filly, Stella, used to pull really hard. We've finally gotten the problem fixed, but for two years I would try and beat her at the game, and would set my arms and haul back on her (lovely training, huh?) I finally got her and I both another trainer, who fixed the problem. But my shoulders ache almost immediately whenever she decides to regress back to a two year old for a day. I've gotten adjusted several times, which has helped. I know I'll feel that for years, and it happened when I was 16. I wish I'd been smart enough to trainer hop earlier, then the whole thing could have been avoided.

CNSpots said...

I'm a 38 year old re-rider (39 in a couple of months). I had a serious car accident when I was 23 and pregnant with my first child. I fractured a bone in my neck and had tons of soft tissue injuries. I have arthritis in my upper back & neck from that. I found out 9 years ago that I have Fibromyalgia and there are days when I have to drag myself out of bed because of the pain. About 4-5 years ago I started having some real bad problems with my hips. I'd be walking and they'd just give way and I'd fall. Of course I never went to the doctor. About 2 years ago the pain got a lot worse & focused on the left side of my body (even started messing up my eyesight in my left eye). I had just gotten an appointment with a Neurologist when I got thrown from a horse and fractured my tailbone and gained a really big concussion. After the rounds with the doctors and then ending up at UAB's Neurology Clinic, I found out I have MS. By now my husband has decided I should not be riding anymore. I did have to stay off horses for about a year (couldn't stand it any longer) but my Neurologist & my Rheumatologist put me on several medications that seem to help a little and I'm back riding when I'm able. I'm still in pain 24/7, but it's manageable most of the time. On top of that, I found out I'm in the first stages of Osteoporosis and have to take Calcium supplements and be VERY careful. My hubby hates it that I've gone back to starting my own horses and that our friends call me when they have a horse they can't handle, but I can't stand the thought of not doing this.....horses make life worthwhile to me. Without them there's just 3 screaming kids and pain...LOL!

cdncowgirl said...

Let's see... 5 car accidents in 5 years. (no I'm not a bad driver, I was never the one at fault) and of course various falls from horses. That's caused a variety of aches and pains.
The accident that really stands out I think causes the majority of my day-to-day pain. My friend was driving on the highway and some young girl (15ish, only had her learner's permit) pulled out onto the highway and T-boned us. Hit the car where I was sitting (passenger side, front). My right side is completely f'd up. No wonder the right lead is always my trouble lead, regardless of how good or bad it is for the horse!
All the accidents have caused chronic pain, to the point where exercise hurts. I was much more active and physical a person when I was younger... you know, the age where we can disregard most pain. So now I'm fat and in pain. I'm working on it though. Trying to ignore the pain and workout again. Eating better. Chiro and massage therapy.
Riding actually helps loosen my hips and back. My chiro says I have almost no limp when I've been riding but if I've had to miss some rides she can always tell just by how I walk into treatment.

mulelisa said...

Oh, yeah, major intermittent back pain which started when I was 12. No injury, just spondylolisthesis (a slipping of vertebra that usually occurs at the base of the spine) coupled with ankylosing spondylitis. --And yes, my spelling skills were developed at an early age. lol ---

I'm fortunate, however, in that my AS is not currently "active" and I can get by with super-saver mega-bottles of ibuprofen from Sam's Club. Mornings are slow & stiff as are long periods of standing or sitting.

Also have a knee that aches like hell and locks up when we go on longer rides. Same knee I broke the patella on when I was 12 (1971 was a great year....) and then later jammed coming down a hillside in Switzerland when I was in college.

Still get some odd aches in my upper back and shoulder from getting launched off my mare three years ago and breaking the clavicle and six ribs. That episode required hospitalization and little pills waaaay stronger than my ibuprofen.

Besides carrying a couple of ibuprofen in my wallet and having baggies of pills stashed in the car, truck and tack room, I've finally started doing some kind of organized exercise -- the kickboxing I mentioned in the comments to the previous post. It's only been over the summer so far but it does seem to be helping my flexibility, balance and stamina.

Of course, today I'm limping around with a bruised foot. I took a self-defense class at the same martial arts place that does the kickboxing and we had our 'final' yesterday where we had to fend off a well-padded 'attacker'. His cup was hard plastic....

barngal said...

I have both back and knee issues. The back problems probably started as a result of a few nasty spills from a horse.

I've had other pains with my back and I think the one thing that helped the most were a series of exercises PT had me do. It also tightened up other areas too. Somewhere I still have copies of them.

Also had ACL reconstruction on my knee, meniscus surgery and a tibia fracture (different times) all on the same leg.

For riding, my back seems to bother me when I lift my leg to mount and maybe it has something to do with my leaning problem. My knee/leg though makes it very difficult to mount/dismount. I use a mounting block or leg up and slide off slowly. Any kicking or aids at all tend to bother my knee.

The pain is always there so I deal with it. Aspirin helps and sometimes, so does a stiff drink.
My horse has been a real incentive to take better care of myself and to take on the challenge to lose weight and wear breeches again!

Shadow Rider said...

Lets see, was launched from a welsh cross in the 80's, broke my tail bone landing on hard Georgia clay. Every once in a while it aches, but it's no biggie. Neck pain from an old car accident. Every once in a while get a jolt and the next day I can't move, again, no biggie. But in 95 I had a TB broodie fracture my leg and knee joint. 3 1/2 hours of surgery, and they weren't sure I'd walk again. I beat those odds, but they told me I'd certainly not ride again. Since then I've filled a shelf with trophies, including 2 hunter champ. I have days when even with the motrin I eat like candy it feels like someone is pounding a butcher knife into my knee with a sledge hammer. I'm still gonna ride. I do take my glucosimine. I don't wear my knee brace (can't get chaps on over it) I have pain in that hip, and the other knee from compensating for the bad knee. The doctors want to do a knee replacement, but as long as I can hobble, I'm avoiding it. I know if I ever go in and they take xrays, they are gonna tell me they have to replace both knees. I also have the wonderful 48 yr old body that just doesn't take the abuse as well anymore. I decided to pony my exuberant yearling colt yesterday. Just a turn around the hay field. Today it feels like every muscle in my body was wrenched, LOL!
Sigh...I also used to stack 200 bales of hay and think nothing of it. I'd die now if I had to!

whisper_the_wind said...

Used to gate train TBs in Ocala back in the dark ages (1982). Destroyed right knee by getting it caught between just weaned 8 monthers foot and a block wall (long story). Had reconstructive surgery in Feb this year (puts off replacement for another 20).

Have congenital fusing of vertebra in back and neck, plus mild lordosis and scoliosis. Chiropracter is G*D in my book. Had the same headache for 10 years, gone after first adjustment.

Honestly, I'd rather see you leaning forward than the way everyone seems to be leaning back these days. Look at any WP photo in the Journal. People look like they're trying to touch the horses ass with the back of their hat.

The only thing I see 'bad' is that VLC may carry his head too low. I know most shows don't disqualify (yet) but aren't his ears (cute ones, too) supposed to be above his withers.

LuvMyTBs said...

52 yrs.old,very bad arthritis in the right knee along with a replaced titanium tibial plateau in the lower right leg after a nasty fall at a bank jump.Makes it very scary and difficult for me to mount as I have NO swing and limited movement.Needless to say all of my horses are ROCK SOLID quiet for mounting and I can't get on from the ground anymore.Once I'm on I'm good to go but the fear of simply getting on is always there and I even went to a sports psychologist to try and get my head right.(Not that I was right in the head before LOL!)Anyway I drop my right stirrup when it starts to really throb or ache but riding just makes me feel so much better about everything that it far outweighs the discomfort in the knee.I live on Aleves,Glucosamine and when it's real bad Vicodins.I get the Synvisc joint injections every 2 years and eventually will need a total knee replacement.I'm not supposed to jump anymore but I still do.I am on a first name basis with my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist.I want to be able to ride for as long as I possibly can.

AlphaMare said...

This almost seems confessional: I'm 60 and all my warranties have expired ...

I have a kink in my upper spine like a siamese cat's tail from an encounter with a semi on Interstate 35E, what the docs cal scapulocostal syndrome. That does cause more or less constant pain, but it's usually manageable.

Then I totally trashed my left knee. I mean, one ligament holding the whole joint together. At the time, (among other things) I was doing some lower level eventing, including the cross-country things. Jumpers. Riding to hounds. Great fun. What did I do to my knee? I slipped in the mud getting into a car. That was the LAST time I have ever been allowed to wear a shoe with a heel ...

I really miss jumping. I mean, I can jump, but I can't land. There's this moment when you sink into your kneerolls -- but two actual *knees* are required for this, or one ends up draped around the horse's neck going "ow ow ow ow"

I've had 4 surgeries on that knee, and do my best to avoid the next one. When I (naturally) screwed up the OTHER knee, the ortho informed me that the "old bad knee" is now bone on bone, no cartilege to speak of. Yeah, I buy the big generic economy size of ibuprofen.

My horses are all very well ladder-broke these days. I have to be careful not to restrict siting trot, due to concussion on my back -- green horses still learning to carry me and themselves are the pits. :P

Of course, I now have the generic problems of modern workers -- a bit of carpal tunnel, etc. Arthritic changes in both elbows -- had "tennis elbow" at one point when my glove hung in the handle of a hayhook stuck, in turn, in a rolling bale(try to explain "hayhook elbow" to a physician).

So. Analgesics are my FRIENDS -- as are mounting blocks. Still ready to mount up any time ...

AlphaMare said...

"I don't wear my knee brace (can't get chaps on over it) "

Shoot, I've worn mine *over* chaps -- and over breeches. Yeah, in Class A. Somewhere there's a win photo from the Regional Championships of us winning champ Show Hack -- even though the dark navy blue and silver full leg brace wasn't coordinated with the formal turnout ... :D

christeljoy73 said...

I'm 34, and have been very, very lucky (knock on wood) as the only serious horse-related injury I've ever had was a hairline fracture in my wrist when I was ten. I was riding bareback in the pasture, on a horse that wasn't my usual mount. She decided to turn suddenly, and I kept going. I landed sitting, with my arms braced, hence how I broke my arm.

My only other horse-related injuries have been scrapes, scratches, bruises (including a doosie on my shoulder, the result of having my back to a stall and not paying attention to the occupant. In his defense, he wasn't attacking me, he was striking at a horse passing his stall and I was in the way), sprains, and the usual mental anguish and anxiety.

I do have bad knees from a childhood affliction, and a sore shoulder and hip/sciatic from one of my last jobs. I've discovered what works for me is Aleve and flexibility workouts (when I remember to do them). Don't laugh, but belly dance works the best. Veena and Neena may not have the best techniques for actual dance, but the basic workout is great for loosening and flexing. I've discovered it helps me sleep better too, I don't wake up sore.

Leah Fry said...

I am 56 yr old first-time horse owner, and sometimes I wonder why I choose to put myself through this. I was in a car accident when in my early 30s that really messed up my neck and shoulders. Years of being a graphic designer slaving over a hot computer have taken their toll on the rest of my back. My back feels like it's always just one wrong move away from laying me out. Arthritis in my hands, wrists, hips and knees make me sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies when I walk. There are days when everything hurts. Yoga, Pilates, walking and lifting weights help, but I have to be SUPER careful about my posture when I ride. I have to concentrate on using my core muscles or I can put myself flat out for a week before I even know it.

I've been through so many rounds of PT, I've lost count. Every bump, every jolt, every wrong twist and turn -- I'm convinced our bodies hold it all in memory to torment us in middle age.

LostSoul said...

I'm only 20 and have back/neck issues. The back was from playing basketball and my coach allowing me to play in socks during gym. Thus I fell a lot. What sealed the deal was when I fell on ice in my teens, slipping two discs. They are back in place now, but I can pull my back easily and can't lift anything too heavy.

I reopened the whole can of worms when I got in a car accident, and my neck got screwed up and my back issues resurfaced. Jumping was so painful and I had to go lie back in my car after lessons to get the painful throbbing to go away. So there I was, door open and lying down, Nacho in hand and going "The barn is right there...can I go now?"

I had a whole school year off, and it's loads better, but it all resurfaces if I don't ride for a long time or I switch horses.

Course, falling off twice in one lesson while trying to fix the car accident issues a week after it probably didn't help me any.

The pain goes away within the first few minutes or so, and only appears again if I get overheated/exhausted (100 degrees sucks you out fast, water breaks or not.)

I'd rather be a broken woman who was happy, then a person who was terrified of what was going to happen to her every moment.

I need to return to the chiropractor, but nah. Jumping has really helped my back a lot. Half seating and Stand 2, 3, sitting has helped it a lot.

Aced said...

Well, i'm 15 and have had pain since i was 13, after a fall from a bucking horse into/onto a fence (never fell off for a buck again though, know i'm known as velcro butt [= )
I also got achillies tendontitis in both ankles at one point (from a riding lesson, 2 hours long after 2 weeks since i had a crackpot trainer..) , did the whole physical therapy thing where they told me my siatica (sp?) the nerve that goes from you neck to your knees, is too short and possibly damamged, meaning that i cant sit with my legs out and put down my head or it hurts like heck.
My right leg is also shorter then my left, leaving me with constanst hip/knee pain because of the extra stress on the long leg..
I used to go to the chiropracter 3 times a week in order to function, but after insurance stopped covering it and my horse needed injections i stopped going.. so i don't do anything about it except take asprine when the pain is too bad..

All in all, i can't stand, walk, run, lie on my stomach or stretch at all.. but for some reason i can ride with no pain what so ever
Can't wait to see what i'm like when i'm 20, let alone 50 or 60 the way i'm going.. and the fact that bad joints run in both sides of my family makes it so much more interesting..

But will i ever stop riding? Nope. Like thereas said, i'd rather be in pain and ride then have a pain-free horse-free life.

LuvMyTBs said...

For all of us wounded warriors that would value any relief from the 24/7 pain we live with I highly recommend trying or purchasing an Inversion Table.I have gotten tremendous relief from using one regularly as I get very stiff and tight everywhere...neck,shoulders,lower back.It also strengthens your core muscles as you can do inverted crunches with no pressure on your spine!The best ones are called Teeter Hang Ups,they have a website and are featured on HSN.I love them!!

Lee_Chick said...

I'm 27 and am already showing signs of osteoporosis and some nasty arthritis (bad bones run in the family) as well as some nasty tendonitis in my wrists and ankles. I used to self-medicate then I took a good look at my 5 foot nothing grandma who used to be my height (5'9") and thought it was time for professional help. Thankfully my doctor actually encourages my riding (though she cringes every time she hears about my latest exploits) as it helps improve the strength of my back and core and thus improves the support available to my spine. I'm trying to make an effort to hold my own care up to the same standards as my horse but it isn't easy - among other things my horse seems to enjoy his carefully selected diet and exercise regime far more than I do (the benefits of not knowing there are tastier foods out there I suppose).

Anonymous said...

I'm 32 and have pretty severe back pain. I have woken up some mornings completely unable to move because of it. I also have pain in both knees and my left ankle. The only pain I am certain where it came from is the ankle. I tore it up pretty bad about 6 years ago and now it has nerve damage. Usually it's just pretty numb, but after riding for a while or standing on it for a period of time it starts to get shooting pains all through it. I have no idea why the back and knees hurt, but they do. Yoga and swimming seem to help slightly, but i always have some measure of pain.

sellefrancais said...

When I was 17 or so I tore a ligament in my left ankle... right before a pony club rating... my mom was pissed. It took months to rehab, and I still don't have full ROM in it, it's a lot harder for me to put weight in that stirrup and force my heel down.

Almost a year ago I broke my left foot in 3 places. So on top of the ligament not wanting my heel to go down, my foot broke where the stirrup goes. It doesn't hurt that bad anymore, but if I ride for long periods of time it definitely aches.

FD said...

I'm not even going to try to start listing the things wrong with me, it'd be a long boring post.

Fugs thanks for that link - I've not seen it before and it awed me. Did you see the coloured horse she was riding? Not exactly a plug!

One of the wonderful things about horses is that you can hope to still effectively ride all your life, and even complete for most of it - there are several riders in their sixties going to the 2008 Olympics.

dp said...

Wow! I feel lucky to be relatively whole and pain-free at 32. Despite doing some crazy shit and having some ugly accidents I have never broken a bone or caused any long-term damage. Everyone I know attributes this to the fact that I've been drinking a liter of milk daily since I was 12 -- just can't get enough of that good stuff. I did severely sprain my ankle while hiking a few years ago, but it's fine as long as I drop my stirrups regularly on long rides.

a beautiful disaster said...

so while we're all lamenting our aches and pains, I'll have to join in with the lower back crowd. When I was fourteen I fell into a flower box and got a hematoma over my tailbone. When they did an MRI to check that nothing else was wrong, they discovered three bulging disks that are probably from a really bad fall when I was twelve. I'm 17 now and my lower back hurts almost all the time especialy if I sit in one position too long or ride too hard. I also have a problem where my vertebrae pinch on nerves sometimes and cause really intense pain up my back and down my legs with no warning.
as far as pain management goes I try not to take painkillers But its getting harder and harder. I have a second job working at a kennel and I'm learning a whole new type of that necessitates painkillers. To keep myself in good shape for riding comfortably, I run and do crunches/leg lifts to keeps my core strong. When I'm riding I always make sure that I'm using my abs and keeping my lower back relaxed (which would help with your stiff back position too fugly) which takes most of the stress off as well. I'd love to lose 30 pounds as well but...I'll see

Quill said...

I have a compressed disk in my lower back that puts residual pain and strain from my knees to just under my shoulder blades. I also had a compressed sacroiliac, and my hip joint was weak. Both of these problems were from an injury when I was eleven or twelve, but both were corrected when I went to the chiropractor for an on-the-job injury involving my neck. I also have an issue with the tendons in my left knee.

The compressed disk will not heal until I lose some weight, but I've found some coping mechanisms for my problems and the resulting balance issues. I'll expand on what people have suggested:

Swimming: Low impact, balance heavy work. Might be excellent for you once a week or so.

Crunches: Back problems? Don't do forward crunches, do crunches where your legs are in the air. There's almost no strain on your back, none on your neck, and it's incredibly effective because your torso is responsible for the weight of your legs, not just the weight of your upper body. There's more muscle stimulation as well.

Yoga and/or pilates: Yes, very good for balance and coordination BUT my favorite thing from this skill set is actually a relaxation position on the floor with a blanket under my lower back and my legs crossed. It gently stretches out my legs, my hip joints, my lower back, and my ribs and shoulders. Someone mentioned Rodney Yee, and there are several of his videos that have wonderful relaxation and "opening" poses that are meant to relax tense and tight areas for greater flexibility. There's another one that basically has you sink into your hip bones. I kept thinking that this would be very useful for riders with tense backs. It involves sitting on the edge of a low chair and bending forward between your legs, supporting yourself on something in front of you.

Ball work: One of the things they made me do for PT was to bounce on an exercise ball. At home I used it for a computer chair. It loosened and strengthened my leg and back muscles. Also try a balance board or one of those rubber balls with a disk around it that were so popular with kids about 10-15 years ago. These are simple low impact ways to improve your balance.

I read a study that claimed that people lose their sense of balance and coordination not because they are aging, but because they aren't using those skills. They had 80 year old women do balance activities for months, and at the end of the study, every single person had increased their balance and walking coordination by at least 40%, and at least 20% of them were able to put aside their canes and walkers after the study. The women did simple activities such as walking along a line on the floor, or on a low beam with rails for balance. Sitting in a chair and leaning in all directions both with their hands in their laps and later with a small weight in each hand. The article recommended everyday things like walking along the curb when you are in an urban setting and hopping over doorways or tile repeats when you are at home.

Good luck.

Snoopsincharge said...

37, lower back pain, hip, left shoulder,left knee and both ankles.
The lower back pain is due to an extreme hallow lower back. Something about the distance between the discs and nerves getting pinched..don't ask me, it's been decades since I saw a doc about that. Long sitting and standing kills me, the extra weight I gained since stopping smoking doesn't help either. Riding does improve it though, thank god.
My left knee I injured falling knee first onto the edge of a piece of wood as a teenager and now it sounds like someone crunching on chips and you can feel it too if you touch it while I bend it, it's gross. I actually went to see a doc for that one, back then where there was only a single crack, but he pushed it asside saying it was "growing symtoms". I can't ride a bike anymore, do squats or kneel. And it gets worse with each decade. But riding doesn't bother it yet, I use my thigh muscles for posting.
My ankles are due to twice ripped tendons on each ankle over the years.
My hip is from a fall from a too short of a horse onto asphalt road. I fell backwards off that haflinger and never made it all the way around end landed on my left hip bone. I probably fractured it, but I never saw a doc for it.
My left shoulder pain is from too many stall cleanings.
I don't know why I never take care of things wrong with me. Don't have time to go to the doctor, I suppose, and I hate going, so even if there would be time my selective memory never brings that priority up. I am the great procrastinator when it comes to things like that. It's like with the dentist, I don't go until it hurts like hell.
I have never even had a massage or an adjustment. Maybe I should start with

wino said...

the old mare and the mare with the dodgy knee get a dose of glucosamine and MSM every day. Recently I started dropping a dose on my own tongue when adding it to feeds (being too miserly to buy it in human form just for me) I still hobble in the morning but not as badly.

arlene said...

Ha ha, How did you get those pictures of me falling off.. well it be me.

Friday I actually put my X-rays of my total ankle replacement on my blog. I adopted a BLM mustang in April while still unable to walk. Wednesday I adopted a second Mustang on the internet adoption the BLM had.

I'm not sure if I will be able to ride again but I'm sure going to try.

Susan said...

I have problems with tightness in my lower back.

Get a large exercise ball and "ride" it whenever you can. I sometimes use it when I watch TV. I always ride it for a few minutes before I go to the barn so I can loosen up my lower back.

mulerider said...

I feel better just reading this thread. I'm not nearly as bad off as the rest of you. :-)

I have had two serious horse-related injuries in my life. Once I went helmet-less head first into a gate post and got knocked out. I don't think I'm suffering from any long-term consequences. I think I would have been just this goofy regardless. The other was being kicked in the inner thigh by a draft horse. I have some muscle loss in that area and if I use those muscles in just the right (or wrong) way, I have some pain.

I have a bum knee (old non-horse-related injury) and arthritis in my shoulders and all the standard "I'm getting old and falling apart" complaints. I know that if I would lose weight and exercise more, I would feel better. I'm trying.

As FHOTD noted, it's difficult when you spend so many hours of the day working at a job that has you stuck behind a computer. I read somewhere that just getting up from your desk once and hour and walking up and down the hall for a minute helps much more than you would think, so I've been trying to do that.

Smurfette said...

At 50, Mine is hips/pelvis and neck. Only the hips/pelvis bother me when I ride, and I call them repetitive stress injuries. From so many hours horseback since I was 10. Bursitis in both hips, and siatica pains shoot down both legs when the bursitis flares up. No matter how many stretches, it takes ME five minutes of warm up walking (only dead broke horses for me anymore, either) before my crotch even touches the seat of the saddle, and most of the horse's warm up routine before my legs obey my commands. Mounting is interesting, too, since the legs don't separate enough to straddle the horse, I crawl on, using a LARGE mounting block. Dismounting is leaping down, because if I dismount normally, it takes SEVERAL moments of hanging on the side of the horse to drag my leg over the saddle and get them together so I can stand up. Too hard on the horse, right?

The neck pain comes from a flight from a pos 4 year old, like seven7luv said, some days you just KNOW you are getting launched, but I was 40, she sunfished like a bucking pro, I say each side of her shoulders twice, then I flew. Crawled to the arena fence, crawled to a sitting position assisted by the barn cat. Once I could breath again, drug my self to a standing position, caught the POS with the only arm that was working at the time, took her in, unsaddled, THEN called hubby, who was at work. X-Rays and chiropracter later, cracked vertebra and NO MORE green stock for me.

PadraiginWA said...

I've had a fractured right ankle, a torn left medial cruciate ligamant in my knee, and a bum right shoulder. Ski injuries. For some reason my knee is aggrevated more when ride western, but not in my close contact saddle. It's almost impossible to keep my right heel down without pain. Two summers ago I could barely walk because of a bad back. Physical therapy and ultrasound therapy both helped that. I've had good results with power vinyasa yoga. It has made me more flexible and helped to strengthen these middle aged bones and muscles. I can get pretty achy, and Fugs, I am about a decade older than you :).
BTW, I loved the video about Connie~ What an inspiration!

EventGirl said...

Last monday I was showing a horse for someone at equifest in IL, I had one of my lesson students with me and she was my groom for the day. Long story short I think that she put lazer sheen under the saddle area....I was showing in modified jumpers and I did a rollback and slip **sound of my splatting on the ground off a 17.2 monster going at mach 3** I hit the ground almost completely on my hip and head, cracked my helmet almost in half...and served as a great reminder for why I wear one.

Since then I dont have any feeling around the area and my back hurts like HELL I did finally go to the doctor like 3 days laster because of the numbness, he said I most likely herniated a disk....

Moral of the story....lazer sheen can fuck off.... Lol

PadraiginWA said...

- re. my knee injury, make that 'medial collateral ligament', not 'medial cruciate ligament'.
And I fell once when I wasn't wearing my helmet; I have a big ol' knobby scar on the back of my head as a reminder.

Sweetie'sMom said...

The best therapy and exercise I believe is swimming. I started doing water aerobics at the YMCA and it has helped me tremendously for my riding (and losing weight too!) Plus it is safe on your joints. THe Ys are nice because there are a lot of old, or fat people (not a lot of the Pretty bodies like at a Gold's Gym) My first time going I remember thinking, "Oh God, I haven't worn a bathing suit in public in I don't know how long" so I went to the Y to have a look at whoever else was taking the water class. Turns out I was the youngest and thinnest (and at that time I was probably around 190lbs) so I said, "What the heck. I'm doing this for me and my body and my future health. People can look away if they don't want to see my fat butt in a bathing suit." And what happened was that nobody cared.
I think it is so important to take care of your body and swimming feels so good. There are even classes called Twinges in the HInges for (mostly) older people who have arthritis so it's a gentler (swallow end) form of water exercise. Check it out. Your body will smile. And you won't hurt so much while riding.

One Red Horse said...

My worst pain was in my left ankle - an excruciating burn. I think I seriously tweaked a ligament a year ago on a long up hill/down hill walk. On many days I would be unable to post - rode bareback most of the winter which was really a great thing for my balance. Then a few weeks ago I sprained my ankle - and immediately the constant burning was replaced with the ache from the sprain. Now the sprain has healed and the burn never returned. Hallelujah!!! One friend suffers from collapsed discs and is often unable to ride unless heavily medicated, on the worst days, she just hangs with her horses. No pain would be as bad as being unable to be with horses.

austriancurls said...

I'm 47, and don't have a pain issue. I walk hunched and bunched because of moving 44 tonnes of hay a year to feed our horses, and mucking out probably just as many tonnes of poop. I've been thrown more times than I want to remember, but I don't have a fear problem. And, I continually attend high level seminars to better my riding and proper riding posture an seat.

I don't make excuses, and if I hurt THAT much that I cannot sit properly and properly bring a horse under saddle professionally, then I leave it to someone who can, or someone who can help me so that I can. But, I do't go fobbing about saying, or I hurt but I don't want to give up riding and so therefore think I will bring this stallion under saddle without a professional trainer assisting me at least once a week, because I'm selfish enough not to give up my ego in order to actually follow my dream.


austriancurls said...


just read your post to me on the last topic.

You are wrong, it doesn't matter what discipline, your seat is plain wrong. Sort it out for whatever discipline you want from that colt, if you are planning to use that colt for western riding, they you get your ass properly in the saddle for western. If you want him to do hunter/jumper, than sort your seat out for that.

But, if you mean that crap called hunter/jumper for quarter horses...than I can't help you anyway ;). Waste of a good colt.

Sorry, my opinion.

And, classical seat hasn't anything to do with what dicipline you are riding, you can ride any dicipline centered. Whatever you plan on doing with this colt, you are not going the right way about it...sadly. And, that frustrates me to watch reading here.

Many fans won't say it to your "face", but I care enough about the colt to say it, so that hopefully you will FINALLY go out, interview trainers, test some out, and get your butt sorted out with respect to REGULAR correction.

Even the masters correct themselves, what you are doing with that colt is just a hair above a BYB without a proper trainer, and that is just painful to watch, since I really like what you have done elsewhere for horses.

Sorry, it's an opinion, and what I have followed so far, I know you won't take it because you're a stubborn you know what. But for the colt, it would be the best thing when you finally give in and start to trust someone to train you. EVEN the best tennis players in the world have coaches, and that is what you need.

mlks said...

Fascinating discussion.

Full disclosure: I'm 28, genetically predisposed to be thin, and am in good shape, but I already carry around the little "reminders" of various accidents and general body use that comes with, well, being ACTIVE. Which I won't give up.

I have a borderline bad back (I used to just say a bad lower back, but I started wrenching my upper back fairly routinely this past year...doing things like climbing into a Suburban. Sigh.), which is likely due to a combination of extensive dance (starting at age 4), a car wreck at 20, and, yes, the horse stuff. There are other little ouchies, but the back is really the one thing that I really have to WATCH, lest it go out while I'm working with a greenie and thus causes me to f-up said greenie's training.

As others have said, yoga helps a lot. Ideally, you get to the point where you use it for preventative reasons rather than after-you've-already-hurt-yourself reasons.

I've also found chiro to be outstanding, but I can't always afford it. (LOVED the look on my chiropractor's face the first time I went to him and detailed all of the dancing / riding / yoga / running I do. Thought he was going to pass out.)

Massage has helped a lot. I've found that if I can get worked over when something starts to feel off, but hasn't actually been fully damaged yet, I can circumvent worse injury.

* * *
Why do we not take care of ourselves?

Sometimes I think it's because we're used to seeing our bodies as tools--things that we have to be able to use, even when they are damaged--when we work around horses. Let's face it--if there's a ranch crisis going down and your back is out, fuck the back. The crisis must be dealt with.

The animals always end up being more important than our health, it seems.

mlks said...

Something I forgot: ICING.

It is one of the things you can do for your own injuries that won't cause greater damage and generally will actually help the situation (in more than just a palliative sense).

There are some outstanding flexible ice packs that come with velco straps. You can strap yourself in, sit, have dinner, and then take yourself out.

Icing brings into play your body's temperature-regulation system. So, because you're chilling an area, the body actually pumps more blood to it, which speeds recovery.

austriancurls said...

My last crash, at the International Wels Horse Fair, in a breed presentation.

Shortly before the crash:

Happy show

And as the crash happened.

Happy show

Hopefully those links go through.

It is inevitable that one crashes. In this case, it was my fault of course, I was over zealous and asked my horse to do a full gallop across the arena, the arean was short, and I started to seat the stop too late, she made a turn to stop us from going into the railing, like a good girl, and I "hopped off" and landed on my feet and then my butt.

I got right back on, my friend with the camera that took the pictures ran to grab the horse and assisted me (cute, he's a young rider and obviously rode only english before because he held onto the opposite stirrup while I mounted, like they do in english...cute), we finished our routine.

I've never had a fall in a demonstration, but at the show this year it happened twice, this was the second time. The first we had a demonstration at 9am in the big outdoor arena, they had watered the sand so much because it was supposed to be a very hot day that water was standing. We were the first on, everyone was slipping and sliding in there, and no one had time to tell the others, we went in and did our routine and in a full gallop in a curve we went down. I had a nice imprint of my saddle horn into my thigh (the saddle horn has the brand of the previous owner stamped in it and that brand was on my thigh in black and blue afterwards).

I think I do ride in the same style and way that you do or did, and I take my falls, get back on and ride full speed ahead keeping in mind that I should watch for short or wet arenas. Of course, I work toward collection and everything else as well.

And, I must admit I'm no mugwump. But, then again, I never claimed to be, and when I need help or when I'm insecure in bringing a stallion under saddle...then I go out and get my mugwump to help me, and not just once...but at least once a week if not six days a week.

nccatnip said...

Lower back surgery, remaining 2nd herniated disc, DJD, arthritis and foot surgery. Joint pain is increased due to the Lyme's Dx and an additional 25lbs from quitting smoking in Feb. I am in constant pain and have been for 10+ years but find that riding helps. It loosens everything up so the pain is not quite so bad.
Orthopedic surgeon was furious that I spoke of returning to riding, neurologist supportive with a "pain protocol"- preload with analgesics prior to activity depending on pain level prior and anticipated amount of activity.
I do pretty much everything they told me I would never do again- I kinda figure I am going to hurt, might as well do what I want to do anyway. I am open and welcome to all forms of treatment- meds, massage, chiro, alcohol, yoga, crystals, magnets, whatever.

austriancurls said...

I should say that show was in May this year.

LuvMyTBs said...

HAHAHA...yeah my ortho Dr.told me I should be happy to get to walking close to normally again and that I should give up riding all together.He was not to happy when my other Dr.(and foxhunting buddy)rehabbed my fear and confidence level about overcoming the mounting dilemma and had me riding again before I was even walking normally.I had the bad fracture injury in 1993 and then compounded it 4 yrs later slipping and falling (picture cartoon character who does a flip)walking down a hill on wet grass(no horse involved that time)3 stress fractures between the titanium plate and the knee which really trashed the knee joint and whatever cartilage I had left.Not to mention that I have always had anywhere from 3-12 horses that needed care despite however gimped up I was.I think that's what has always gotten me through the injuries just having them to take care of whether I could ride them or not.During my worst spell of not thinking I could ride again I met a paraplegic woman who had been a competitive skier. She took up riding when she could no longer ski.Talk about a centered balanced seat!!!She would put her legs in position and just go for it.She loved that being on the horse helped her to feel whole and physically alive again.That was when I decided to hell with it I'm going to keep riding because I was so miserable without riding in my life.

islgrl said...

Have read this for a while now and never posted until this thread. I am hitting the advil and arnica to nurse the pain of hitting the ground with my face the other night. 41 years old, very disconserting to hear the crunch of your bones as you meet the ground from 5.5 feet up.

I have been injured too many times to count at this point, many horse related, some not. All leave residual pain.

I sometimes wonder if it would be a good idea to get something older/more predictable/quieter... but then I have the fabulous ride I know is tucked away in his talented young body and try to stuff the fear back in and get on again.

It should be noted he gets regular chiro & acupuncture visits and I can't get myself to the doctor even when I do get bucked off and land face first.

fanoffugly said...

Wow, aren't we a bunch of decrepids! Mine is a busted ankle (horse related of course) and a bad lower back.

Pinto said...

I am 53. 27 years ago, a horse I was training filled over backwards on me, breaking my leg in 5 places. I broke both bones in my leg. I was in a cast for 9 months because it wouldn't heal. It finally healed 1 1/2 inches shorter than the other leg, which really screwed by back up. I now wear lifts in that shoe which help. Now, as a result my knee is bothering me. As long as they are horse related war wounds, they are ok. If I had slipped in the bathtub, I would be complaining.

Pinto said...

smottical - I did the same thing as you did. When the horse feel on me, my leg was under the sturrip when the horse fell with it's weight on it, snapping my leg. It broke like the sound of a rife shot!! Really awful sounding. When I went to the ER, all the doctors kept asking if I fell of my horse. I kept saying,"No I rode it right to the ground, then it flipped over on me." Guess you'd have to be a horse person to understand. It's been 27 years and it still bothers me, but not bad, I don't take anything for it.

Snoopsincharge said...

austriancurls said...
"You are wrong, it doesn't matter what discipline, your seat is plain wrong."

Different disciplines require different seats. And sometimes it varies by breed. If she plans on showing QH, that she needs to go by what they like to see, not what YOU like to see. Her hunter seat is just fine, her shoulders align with her lower leg as they should, so it's well balanced; not "wrong".
In her pictures she isn't riding dressage nor western nor is she jumping, and for hunter her seat is correct. It's just part of that discipline. You can't say "it's wrong" when that is what is required. If it's not your cup of tea, that's one thing but it doesn't entitle you to say it's wrong. It's not my cup of tea either, but I notice a well balanced hunter seat with a good leg when I see one.
And then to hint on she's "screwing" up her horse, is just plain rude.
Cathy has plenty of experience to start a horse and her seat is just fine. And I bet she will check in with a "professional trainer" when she hits a big enough road block. Good trainers are hard to come by and very expensive, and the better you are yourself the harder it is to find one that's better. Besides, maybe it's more important for her to get him there herself then having someone else do it for her.

Jen said...

Tore right knee throwing hay off a four wheeler. Flipped onto me (I wasn't driving either!)

Various broken fingers/toes. Constant headaches from a damaged jaw that now has arthritis in it (sports in elementary school) and the worst.. got thrown three times onto the same spot on my back by two different horses. One was on the pole of an oxer, other two on a rock.

Year and a half of NO riding as I damaged my spinal cord and it's finally recovering. I don't know how good it'll be, they're iffy between pain for the rest of my life or full recovery eventually.

fernvalley01 said...

41 yrs old , I have lupus and chronic low back pain. A result of being rear ended by a city bus and also run over by a team of horses within about 6 months of each other . I have had cortisone injections in by back to relive my Sciatic(hubby calls it my psychotic nerve)and done the PT as well as chiropractic and massage. Fugly nailed it however and once your low back is pooched its done. That being said if I am careful and maintain good body mechanics I am able to cope reasonably well and maintain a good activity level , a 40 lb weight loss would also help and I am constantly working at it.The best relief I have gotten has been more proactive using exercises that strengthen the core to compensate for my weak spots. Also good meds Relafen and Flexeril (Rx only). There is a great book out called "The Back Doctor" written by a physician (sorry don't know the author and my copy is lent out)great reference for pain management strategies and exercises.

equus said...

I will add an old ankle injury to the mix. It was not horse-related initially, it was a rock-climbing accident, but now is having an impact on my riding a little. After being "out of horses" for about 10 years, due to funds and University, I am back in lessons and finding the ankle gets tired and makes cues and balance more difficult on that side. It even messes up things like stirrup length because that side always feels different than the other, even on "strong" days. It's just an ankle, but it also makes my hip ache on that side and if I don't do extra exercises it can be an issue.

I also had a disk bulge in my neck (it's like the stage before herniation), which caused neck pain but more importantly, the worst headaches imaginable. That is also not horse-related (as far as I can tell, I blame getting rear-ended by a bus; my physiotherapist thinks my long neck would be prone anyway) and is mostly controllable if I keep up with physio. Working at a desk all day is really the problem, not riding. That being said, riding can aggravate it if I'm not careful. I am very newly back into riding, so my form isn't consistent or ideal.

I have some lower back pain stuff that I still call "a pinched nerve" though I think I will have to admit soon that it is something else. I suspect it is simply related to a lack of balance/strength in my abs and back.

For what it's worth re. pics of Fugs on VLC (probably not much) - I thought the saddle seemed big (or awkward?) but didn't trust my own opinion, so I thought it was interesting that someone else mentioned it. There IS something not-quite-right and it is probably the back issue. BUT I think basing ANY riding critique off one or two snapshots, as opposed to actual motion, is a bit pointless. You just can't get a sense of the motion of the horse and rider together in a still frame. Maybe I'm wrong, it's just my opinion, but riding is a dynamic thing that cannot be best assessed in a static form.

Also, I wonder if perhaps the pressure of posting a photo on such a popular blog is intimidating such that you "pose" your pictures a little too much, making them seem less natural than you actually ride. It's not a criticism, I just think if I were you, I'd probably want the pics to look good, AND since I am not a trained model, it would probably look a little pose-y, especially at a walk. I might be way off here, just a thought.

bluedude5 said...

k im going to complain about my aches and pains but the problem with my situation is that im only 20 (yea i can here you, "what is she complaining about?")

first off i have a completely buggered up foot, ive had so many horses rebrake the same toe that i have permanent bruising and scars galore all over the foot. i cant wear gumboots anymore because where the boots bend they push on my foot and the pain is incredible, not fun at all

secondly i am going to blame my parents, stupid genetics gave me rotated out hips which has led to me having a form of 1st stage arthritis in them at the ripe young age of 20, riding hurts like a bitch and yet i still do it, go figure. im probably going to need a hip replacement by the time i am 30 :S

AbbyAugustArabian said...

I am 18, I have ridden all my life and for the past 10 years I have been riding competatively.

I have two bad ankles, typical english rider knees and a bad hip. My hip issues were from a riding accident. I learned that day not to kick your feet out of the stirrups while walking out a greenie, flighty, mildly physco arab mare on a gravel driveway surrounded by trees. That was the first and only time I have ever seen a horse eating sparrow. I landed strait on my left hip on the gravel driveway. I gimped away from that incident and went to a show the next day.

I went to the chiropractor about 10 times for my hip, and he took x-rays and said my hip was jammed and my pelvis was twisted. Of course this was two years after the fact. He didn't do crap for me. People keep telling me to go to the orthapedist, but I keep stalling because I know he is going to tell me something I don't want to hear.

I keep my pain in check by taking Excedrine Back and Body every six hours. I swear by that stuff.

I can't get my left leg very far off the ground, so a mounting block is a must for me. I also have problems bending in other directions and using my left leg while riding.

I am currently riding 6 horses including my own and teaching lessons to 3 people. I still manage to get around pretty well, but I limp constantly.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Thank you, Snoops. For those who actually have reading comprehension skills, I've said all along that I'm merely green breaking the VLC and that he will be turned over to a well-known trainer for finishing and showing. I do not need to be the world's most perfect rider to do what I am doing with him, and have won enough equitation trophies in my life not to be put off by a few critics on the Internet. As I always say, if you put it out there, you should expect to have it criticized, and I do, but by the same token, the only opinions that are actually meaningful to me are those of the judge in the center of the arena. You can't please everyone, so I only care about what counts - and yes, the VLC will be doing that awful, horrible AQHA working hunter stuff that some folks find appalling. I do believe he'll do it very well and I'll be watching from the stands with a cold beer and a big smile on my face.

P.S. Man, I will stop whining now! A lot of you are riding with many, many more issues than I am. I like the person who suggested we start with massage before actually going to the, ugh, doctor. I say massage and a jacuzzi and a frosty margarita...

SOSHorses said...

Fingers - the middle finger on both hands has been broken at the first knuckle (twice on my right hand)because of two REALLY nasty Shetland phonies. They had really bad manners and you had to hold their halters when leading them or they were either all over the place or would bite you. I always managed to get that one finger caught in their halters somehow.

Shoulder - Baskar Curly/Mustang Cross. WOW what a ride! This was a bucking fool, and he would buck randomly for not apparent reason. the last time he turned me into a lawn dart, I landed on my shoulder and my neck. Didn't break anything but the muscles in my neck and shoulder havn't been the same since. The funny thing is he never bucked with me again after that one. The horse turned out to be a really nice ride after that.

Because of this I recently started having trouble with my hands falling asleep, and after consulting a doctor, who told me that I need to have surgery, I found a Massage Therapist who speciallizes in deep tissue issues. Apparently I had 5 large knots in the muscles of my right shoulder and 3 in my left. These knots were putting pressure on the nerves going down my arms and causing my hands to go to sleep. After about three appointments my hands stopped falling asleep at random times and it continues to improve. He says that one day we will managed to work on a normal massage in an hour but for now he never gets past my shoulder and neck. I still have two knots in my right sholder but they are much smaller than when we began.

ORSunshine said...

I'm 32 and I have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis of the hips and lower spine. The osteo probably comes from riding, getting launched, bratty yearling stud colts and a couple really bad car accidents. Now add in systemic, unexplainable arthritis. Yay for me! Not RA, not any of the others, but the inflammation levels are really high.

The fibro is a different story. They say the usual onset is puberty, child birth or menopause. The onset for me was with the birth of my second child.

Yes, I've done PT and medication. PT helped some. Medication is a different story. All meds mess with me in some way. You know how they list uncommon side effects on the patient hand out? I'm that person that actually suffers from them.

I've decided the hell with medications. I can become essentially crippled any day due to the fibro. So, I just cowgirl up every morning, say the hell with it and live life. Shortening my stirrups a notch helps take pressure and tension off my hips. Advil when necessary and taking it easy when necessary.

SOSHorses said...

Oh, and lets not forget the ONLY horse who has ever dragged me anywhere. My one boarder has a Mare who knows that if she doesn't give her nose she can completely walk off no matter what you do. This makes her increadably hard to stop when she decides to leave.

One afternoon she decided she didn't want to come in the barn and as we were walking in from the field she decided to leave. While holding on to the lead she went forward and I came down on my knee jamming it into the ground. My hip popped and the pain shot down my leg. I was just sure I had broken my hip. Lucky I guess, I didn't but it was a week of chiro visits for me as I had twisted my pelvis. I don't think I have ever had anything hurt so bad in my life; and I have two children.

Anonymous said...

I'm 16, a lot younger (no offense) then a lot of the others posting and I just have to think to myself "man, I screwed up." I am suffering from incurable neck pains and a bruised tail bone. My neck has several bulging/degenerated disks and the muscles have tightened up considerably but surgeons won't operate.

I know exactly how I ended up this way. Three words. Shy High Ranch. They are a girl scout camp who offer horseback riding from instructors who know almost nothing. They take in more horses then they can handle in any other then food wise, they only have about six stalls. I have two stories to tell here, a story of asshats and a story of idiocy.

First the story of asshats. I first went to that camp when I was seven, and they had two new horses. One got sold quickly for being un-rideable, and the other they kept. Last year I went back and he was still there but is now amazingly head shy and nearly impossible to ride. Cases like that happen up there all the time, a bunch of the horses there are never handled at all unless there is some big medical issue with them.

Now my story of idiocy. I was up there when I was about thirteen. All the barn staff knew me and knew I could handle their advanced horses. That day was bareback day number two. The first day covered basics of bareback riding and this day went into the more advanced stuff. I was pulled into the middle of the arena, with my assigned horse for the day, Trace. They told me they had rescued Trace from a farm and he had only become ridable due to weight issues. So I smiled and said "sure I'll ride him" knowing that he hadn't been ridden in who knows how long if ever. I was mounting using a mounting block when he decided to move and stepped on the mounting block. Trace freaked out and it was all I could do to barely hang on, not even properly mounted. I was eventually thrown, landing with my neck on someone else's mounting block and my butt on a hard rock. I have been in pain ever since. After going to the doctor I was told all kinds of useless information and had many tests run on me, I now hate doctors.

If anyone has information on how to deal with my pain more effectively PLEASE e-mail me,

ClunyCapull said...

For anyone suffering from back pain, neck pain, hell any pain that might even slightly be stemming from your spinal column- IF you never do anything for yourself, DO THIS- its called Cranio-sacral Therapy.

Regular quacks, I mean Doctors call it nonsense, but after suffering for decades, it worked almost a miracle for me- set me back to where I was in my teens (back pain-wise)

It should cost roughly $200-250-and take place in several, very subtle sessions 3 days in a row, then once a week for 3 weeks. You have to complete all the sessions for your body to “get” it. For the first time in my life I actually committed to take care of myself and did it.

The masseuse who did it for me warned me that the effects wouldn’t take place over night, but that slowly I would begin to notice less and less pain. With my ridiculously-ignored-for-years-and-years condition I noticed some results immediately, but he was right the real relief took place a bit later without me even realizing it.

Fugs, I hope you will do this for yourself, because you deserve it; but also do it for the horses that will benefit from a stronger, more comfortable you.

Hell, I’d be willing to chip in to help pay for it, so it doesn’t put a damper on that old polo pony’s retirement!

Nagonmom said...

Self care (exercise, over the counter pain meds, proper diet, supplements if they help) is better than "actual medical care" for these chronic annoying but not incapacitating pain issues. Physicians don't have much to offer. Too much surgery/narcotics can be worse than the original problem. PT can be wonderful. But sometimes we know what we need, and cannot do it.Exercise, stretching, rest when needed, proper nutrition. Could it be that we love our horses more than ourselves? Maybe we we should reframe self care as "something I do so I can still care for my horses and ride when I am 102 years old" . It's only self care in the short term, long term it's enabling you to care for those you love, four legged or two, longer.

mugwump said...

OK- austruan curls says, I'm no guys, seriously, I'm nobody. If I had the guts to post photos of me riding, some of you would have a field day.I get hired for what my results are, not how I look. I don't fall off much, that's all I've got.
As was pointed out, Fugs had her shoulder, hips, and heels aligned. I don't really care about the rest.
Her horse looked relaxed and calm.
That's all that matters.
The more work she gets done on her horse before he heads to the trainer, the easier it will be for everybody. The VLC, the trainer, and Fugs herself.

Trottin' Down the Trail said...

I'm 46. Two and half years ago, I went for a trail ride on New Year's Day and when I dismounted, I could not walk. Had to have surgery on my knee. The surgeon said that it looked like my knee had been whacked with a nine iron. It was just weird. Took a year for the knee to heal up. Still hurts and I have to get shots about every six months in that knee. Now I've got pain in my hips and one shoulder.

I take Ibuprofen, Aleve, Tylenol PM... whatever when I need it and a glass of wine (try to leave out the whining).

I can ride for a couple hours without pain and then the knee starts.

I probably have arthritis and I think riding is good for me despite that fact.

barrelracer20x said...

OT-check out this site:

This little girl is trying to make a difference. Take a look, it's truly inspiring!

Sydney said...

I'm turning 20 in a few days. I have more bumps and bruises and aches than my 30 year old sister.

My worst would be when I tore my left rotator cuff in my shoulder.
Talk about mother fucking bite your lip pain. It hurt from my ribs to my earlobe. Every time someone would make me laugh I would burst into tears. I still can't lift my one arm as high as the other. If someone grabs my shoulder the wrong way or punches it I am down for the count. I can't sleep on it either or it's sore like hell in the morning.

My equine massage therapist said that it could be fixed by massage therapy. Haven't gotten around to it. Someday soon.
I also have big lumps of scar tissue on my legs. 1 from getting my leg stepped on by a galloping horse in the same incident as the shoulder and the other a gate to the green way my mare attempted to smash my leg into it and then charge through the gate before I could lift my legs.

Sydney said...

Something I was guilty of and am now more careful is what shoes I wear.

Shoes can make or break back, leg, neck and muscle pain.
I have very large wide feet. I was guilty of buying mens shoes a lot because they were wide enough for me. I can't even find dress shoes, forget that idea. Mens shoes have different arch support because generally women have a higher arch.

My sister was having shoulder pain where I used to when I wore a pair of rubber boots in the winter. I told her to get a new pair of shoes shes like "These are nikes, they are brand new and good shoes" finally a few weeks later after the shoulder pain was nearly unbearable she wore a pair of my shoes. The shoulder pain went away the next day and hasn't returned since shes been wearing the running shoes of mine that have proper support of her feet in them.

scaequestrian said...

At 27 I have Fibromyalgia, my knees make lovely crunching noises when climbing stairs, I have lower back spasms and a shoulder that will spontaneoulsy dislocate. I took a bad fall a couple of years ago when the 16.2 hh warmblood I was cantering on took a header into the arena dirt, arse over tip so to speak. Luckily he didn't land ON me, I just landed flat on the small of my back. Of course I didn't go to the ER or anything, so now I have massive back spasms when I do something to aggravate it. The fibro makes me hurt all the time to some degree, most mornings just getting up is excruciating. I loosen up as the day goes on. I am on Lyrica now and that seems to help some. I still have attacks where my whole body hurts, but they are less frequent with the meds now. It has forced me to switch to gaited horses, posting hurts my back too much not to mention the knees. I figure if it ever gets too bad to ride any more, I will just harness break my mare and buy a cart!

fernvalley01 said...

VLC don’t know if you will see this but I wanted to ad a couple of thoughts about this. 1. I don’t believe you are whining, frankly low back pain is a bitch .It affects all that you do. It is not the worst that can happen to you but it is always with you.
2. You are still working through the pain and riding not one but several green horse. (You go girl)
3. Having your picture taken while working a greenie takes guts, your concentration is split and often when we see ourselves in photos doing this we also can pick nits with our posture and seat (my avatar pic is Johnnie’s second ride and I am sitting with my shoulder collapsed and leg back toe down wtf was I thinking?
4 This blog is a great idea I have joined in and started one of my own to keep myself motivated
Lord knows I will make some blunders, that can be critiqued but I hope that I will learn from it.
5. Finally, please take care of your back either through massage doctor or whatever. You do great work with your horses and rescue work and I would hate to see you loose that.
Sorry guess this turned into o a book.

Redsmom said...

My secret confession is that every morning when I put the glucosamine supplement in the horses's feed, I take a little myself. It really helps with my stiffness. Back pain - it hurt on the right side for about 20 years, now it hurts on the left side (meh). My shoulder hurts when I boost my daughter up on her horse too many times in one day or if I rake leaves. Problem solved, I don't rake leaves anymore. I've learned things not to do like do not weed eat and mow on the same day. Riding helps loosen it up. I'm getting stoopy shoulders, too (I'm 47) so I must be getting old! I go the chiropractor when the pain gets bad and he tries to make me come in once a month to keep adjusted. Good luck. But I do swear by the chiropractor. I wish I exercised like I used to -- situps and all, but I don't make time to do it.

LuvMyTBs said...

WOW!!!After reading about you younger riders that have constant pain I don't feel so bad.I think in the end you have to choose quality of life over simply just living and managing.For me life is just not quality without the horses in it so I have adapted my riding skills and abilities to my physical limitations as best I can.

For all of you that just don't like Dr.'s and put off going to one DON'T.You may take years of quality time off your life by doing so.I sustained some pretty serious injuries and while it really hurt and SUCKED getting through it I had no choice but I learned a great deal from the Dr.'s and PT's who treated and helped me.I would also say to all of you to seek other opinions and therapies as well.I got tremendous relief from chiro,deep muscle massage and acupuncture...much to the disdain of my ortho Dr.I also got alot of mental therapy from the sports psychologist who taught me how to make peace with the physical pain and limitations as well as the EGO of not being able to jump,ride or compete like I used to and rethink and rebuild my life with horses as I healed and became stronger.

And on a personal note to Fugs,I was unable to ride at all when my current stallion needed his start in the show world.I raised and trained him and did all the ground work.I showed him in hand myself and got him nationally ranked and state champion on the line in Hunter Breeding.I sent him to 2 different professional trainers for his under saddle for the flat work and brains and one for the jumping mileage.It was woth every penny!!!I also was very hands on and involved with him when he was not at home with me so it can be done.I think you are doing just fine w/the VLC and whatever pro you send him to will have a pleasurable job taking over for you.Your photos were overall a very well balanced picture of a confident rider and cooperative horse.My only comment is that I just don't get the low head carriage for a Hunter that the AQHA seems to prefer.IMO he would look much better in frame and using himself correctly.Makes for a much better balanced horse.

naina said...

I'm 30. I never rode fearlessly, I'm too much of a wuss about falling. I broke my tailbone twice and that's screwed up my lower back, though not to the point of needing surgery or anything. I did a course of PT after the second break. Mostly I'm careful of where and how I sit (ergonomic footrests are my best friend), I use a special cushion when driving or flying, and occasionally do Yoga stretches. I know I should do that more often.

I hardly get to ride now, but the last time I did was in a Western saddle. I'm an English rider to begin with, and while I had fun walking and jogging on the Oregon coast, I was in agony that night and the next day.

ariemay said...

I broke my left ankle while racing my mountain bike. That was in April - I had surgery where they put a plate and some screws into it on April 9. I started putting weight on it July 1. I went for my first ride on July 27. It was a trail ride and I was luckily on a horse I could mount & dismount from the off side.

It was three hours and I had pain for two of those. I tried stirrups long, stirrups short - it all hurt and I think if was from the heel down position mostly. I tried to make my foot flat on the stirrup but I swear I couldn't... all those hears of "keep your heels down" and I just couldn't!

Luckily I could walk once I got off! I hope I can overcome this pain issue!

Snoopsincharge said...

fuglyhorseoftheday said...
"I say massage and a jacuzzi and a frosty margarita..."

with you! I'll bring the drinks...

Joy said...

cluny said "IF you never do anything for yourself, DO THIS- its called Cranio-sacral Therapy."

Yes! This is a truly amazing form of therapy. The first time I had it done, I had immediate relief from severe neck pain. It's a miracle. I highly recommend.

neese said...

Hi! I'm 47 and have been riding since I was 3 years old. Always someone else's horse though. We just got a "free" horse last November, the first that I've ever actually owned. (Note: since then we have a new barn & fence to house the "free" horse!) FHOTD would love her- skinny TB mare, about 15 yo. Eight months later, with lots of love and groceries, she looks like a different horse-beautiful and shiny now, and a great ride!
I bought an almost 2 yo mustang filly in April from someone that ended up being a horse trader. Didn't do too badly with her, but while I was there I saw a 12 yo Paso Fino gelding that I thought was wonderful. The trader said he was a great horse, but liked to go! Went back to look at him,and novice that I am didn't realize he had had the CRAP ridden out of him before I got there, thus making him gentle enough for a re-rider like me. (Took a few years off @ 40 to have two kids)
So of course I bought him. They trailered him down to our place May 3rd. The next afternoon, my husband and I went out, saddled him up, and I got on. He IMMEDIATELY took off bucking, and I fell off but didn't get hurt. We re-checked the saddle and everything, and my husband said you have to get back on so you're not scared. So silly me, I got him calmed down and got back on. (Here comes the Pain part!) He stood still for a minute, trembling. I stroked his neck and talked to him, then gave him a little nudge. Wow! An even better bucking storm, and this time my husband had to carry me out of the pasture to the house. Found out from the CT scan I have three fractures in my pelvis. Extremely painful, but nothing you can do but let it heal.
Two months later, and I still haven't been able to return to work. Still on pain pills, though not as many, and I start PT tomorrow.
Oh, and of course the trader said I must have saddled the horse wrong, or had something sharp in the saddle pad, anything to make it my fault. The first fault I had was trusting her, the second was not longeing the gelding for two hours before riding him! And Asshat that she is, she would not take the horse back, or assume any responsibility for him. He ended up at a friend's house, where she worked with him (ground only) for a month before riding him. She only rode him after longeing him for at least an hour.
Her neighbor fell in love with him and bought him for $300.00 (I paid $1800.00) I was just happy not to own him any more, and she is fully knowledgeable of his history.
Since then, I have bought two more fugly rescue horses, and am happy to say they are doing great! The last one we bought was July 9th, very ribby. We thought he had a club foot, but he was just needing good trims due to bad conformation of his front left leg. He also hadn't had any dental care in who knows how many years (he's 21), so we had a geriatric dentist work on him last week, and he will have regular dental care every six months for a while. He is currently looking very good, and happy to have three mares and a barn! And of course, people to give him good care.
We're going to sell the two year old, and probably rescue one more fugly. It's becoming addictive!
FHOTD, thank you for all you have taught me! It's amazing what I have learned from your site, while I've been recuperating. I have read everything on your blog back to the beginning, and my seven year old daughter, who is a beginning rider, has also learned a lot from what I've shown her. And she ALWAYS wears her helmet and boots!
Thanks again!

neese said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
austriancurls said...


Point is she says herself in the post that she is unbalanced, and asks us about it.

My opinion is that if she's unbalanced then her seat is off, and her body is not aligned in the lower picture.

If she's got confidence and balance problems, that needs to be worked out on an experienced horse not a green horse.

austriancurls said...

An excellent description and discussion of the American Hunter/Jumper seat and a balanced seat.

Here is the same answer, put together in a well explained historical context, and why that seat leaves you unbalanced, FUGS.

Don't just take my word for it:

OutRiding01 said...

I', 20 and in worse shape than my parents in their mid-40's. Have always had knee problems and did some physical therapy for patellofemoral dislacement. I didn't complain about it too much as a kid, but my sister, who is a dancer, did and ended up having double knee surgery. My mouth is staying shut about my knees! The best thing for them is ice and herm sprenger stirrups. I don't care how much they cost, I would sell my first-born for a pair. They are amazing!!!

I fell off once when I was about 10 and hurt my left should badly but never saw a doctor. Ended up having surgery on it last summer nd did the PT thing again for a while.

Lower back pain that comes and goes in severity. It never hurts while I'm riding, but that night or the morning after sucks. If I lay flat on my back on a firm surface it hurst the worst and I can't get myself up. Should probably go see a doctor or something but haven't and probably won't.

Worst injury was a severed achilles tendon. Happened in a freak musical theater accident (not even kidding). Had surgery to reapir it, did the PT thing once again and was in a cast for 4 months, on crutches for 6. Started riding again without stirrups as soon as they took my cast off and went to a horse show and did the jumpers a month later, still without stirrups. I tends to ache a lot, usually after riding, running, walking a lot, sitting a lot.... anything really, lol.

CutNJump said...

Sooooo apparently I have been missing out on a bunch of beer and popcorm moments over here...

We all have some level of pain that we deal with from one or more parts of our bodies, from horse and non horse related accidents injuries or illnesses.

Why do we NOT take care of ourselves better? Simple. We all feel we don't have time. So we let it slide one more day to get everything else done instead. Often we don't get as much done because we are too stiff, sore, achy or ???? fill in the blank with your choice of excuses.

If we take the 10 minutes to stretch before riding or the 30 minutes to do a few pilates or yoga moves to strengthen our _____(body part of choice)_____, then we would all be suprised how much better we would feel and sometimes look!

I have issues which can cause me a great deal of pain. If I take a few moments to stretch once mounted, they seem to resolve themselves and my riding reflects it.

Still there are days when I get off a horse- my knees ache, my lower back is trashed and I walk like I'm in my 90's and should have a cane or a wheelchair... There are still other days I don't even bother to get on a horse.

I also feel horse people tend to have a higher pain tolerance than others. We tend to tough it out and take care of the horse, before seeking medical help for our injuries.

I know the day I got kicked in my lower calf I rode quite a ways 'home', untacked 3 horses, took care of them and put them away before letting my Mom drive me to the ER where I sat through radiographs and all sorts of stuff and ultimately ended up on crutches for 3 days. Bet that was fun for my Mom on her birthday!

I still have a hoofprint in my right leg some several years later where the muscle tissue was damaged and never did heal right. It might affect my riding if I thought about it more often...

Anastasia said...

I have the best disability ever. A few years ago I became unable to shovel. That is all. If I shovel then my neck seizes up for about a week (as in I can barely move and I can't drive or work). Apparently it is something called "shoveler's neck" at least that is what the various doctors have all mentioned.

For most people it would make no difference to them if they couldn't shovel. How funny is it that I, a person with horses at home, can't muck stalls?

Anyway I hire someone in.

Meanwhile I've had bad ankles for some years but last Feb my horse dropped like an anchor and trapped my leg under her, I limped home and the limping caused my "not laid on" ankle to basically crumble. I had to have surgery and still have to ride with an ankle brace. The good news is that I'm learning to ride bareback again (no stirrups!).

Anastasia said...

I just re-read my own comment about shoveler's neck and I'm thinking that I might do well to develop some other disorders like "dishwashers hands" and "cat box changer's back". Then I could hire someone in for those too :)

Jess9687 said...

I have a hip that has little floaty bits of bone from when I was young riding bareback up a hill, pony sees tree, he goes one way I went the other. My hip it seemed wanted a talk with that tree.

My knees are just distroyed from a lot of things really.

My back is bad from another pony when I was young rearing while I was on her and then proceeding to back (while rearing) into the tall fence of the show grounds. Squashing me between her and the fence. I have also fallen back first onto show jumps numerous times. And met the ground pleanty of times. ((I have a knack for it))

I am falling apart and am only 23 LOL

Sagebrusheq said...

Jeez Louise, Ladies. What is this 'The View' from horseback?

I think that CutNJump has the right sort of stiff upper lip attitude. To add to her observation, : most people, but ALL athletes deal with pain.

Here is an excerpt from a book I quoted from some months ago. The author is a British fox hunter and was the first female MFH of the Quorn hunt in England. It is from another era attitudinally, but not all that long ago timewise. My kind of gal:

"When Alan Whicker was making a film of the Quorn he told me afterwards that he could not see that it was cruel to the fox, but he did think that it was terribly cruel to the people who rode to hounds. 'Leicestershire seemed to echo with the dull crack of breaking bones.'

"I have broken quite a few myself, and came to know the pay bed wing at the Nottingham General Hospital rather too well at one time.

"I think most of the bad falls I have had have been due to bogs, usually landing in one. When the bigger and better a horse jumped, the more likely he is to stand on his head or turn a somersault when his front feet are firmly stuck in the mud.

"On one occasion there was boggy ground in front of some rails, my animal failed to get her feet out to take off, falling and treading all over me getting up, and so breaking my leg. The Duke of Beaufort had broken his leg fishing the year before, and had had a special stirrup made big enough to take a plaster, so that he could hunt. He very kindly lent this to me, and as my plaster only went up to my knee, I was able to ride and hunt in comparative comfort.

"I broke vertebrae twice. The first time I wore a sort of plaster barrel round my middle, which entailed buying a maternity dress to cover it, and which does nothing for one's morale. The second time the break was between my shoulder blades, so plaster was out of the question, and I just lived on dope. Fortunately, at this time I had the most wonderful old horse, given to me by Terry Skinner, called Top Brass, who was an absolute patent safety. So I was able to go out hunting on him for an hour or so, fortified by masses of pain- killers swallowed down with neat whiskey. It was better than staying home!"

"Riding in Oxford Grind some 25 years ago Mike Cranshaw had the most terrible fall, which left him completely paralysed from the waist down. Despite this he does much work in the County, sits in the House of Lords, helps with Riding for the Disabled and other charities. He shoots from a land rover, and he comes out hunting, using a special saddle, but dressed in proper hunting clothes, scarlet coat and all. He has no feeling in his legs, so a few months ago when he had a fall from his horse, he broke his leg, without knowing it; now his leg has set itself crooked."

Ulrica. M. Smith, 'Magic of the Quorn', JA Allen, 1980

BuckdOff said...

Sagebrusheq, great comment, The View, on horseback.....CutnJump you make a lot of sense...I'm one of the lucky ones, no pain at this time, knock on wood....

mbd said...

45 here, life-long rider, marathon runner, gravity-deplorer (is that a word?). No fear issues, which probably just proves the rest of you are smarter than I am. And,yes, I still ride a BAAM (Big-Assed-Attitude-Mare)and will volunteer to ride just about anything.

Genetic hip defect, age, and multiple falls over the years are starting to show their ugly heads. At the advice of a fellow Fugly reader, good friend, and way more educated rider than me, I'm now taking extra calcium and a glucosamine supplement. I really do think it's helping.

Plus regular weight workouts, disgustingly religious diet-watching, and stability ball/core exercises. I'm also starting lessons for the first time in several years with a very good instructor, who had been told to show no mercy.

So it can be done! I have 2 younger sisters, neither of whom have stayed in good shape, and at a family gathering recently, I was tagged as the youngest. Made me smile. Not so much my sisters.

austriancurls said...


I agree with you and the pain tolerance level. I got kicked in the shin during a Christmas ride, thank goodness it wasn't a one break. And, yes I finished the ride, went to the party afterwards, and then went home and hoped when I pulled the winter boot off that it wouldn't swell to two times it's size.

equus said...

been riding for 50 years now. hope to keep going until they have to drag me off at the bitter end. have been very lucky until a month ago when i went off a green-broke upgrade we took in about a year ago. only did ground work with him until last may, when i started riding him. that's when i realized just how green broke dusty is. went off while mounting (he was afraid of things above him.... we have since fixed THAT problem) and landed on my back, wacking my head pretty good (helmet was on, thank you god). no doctor, of course. since then i have had vision problems, headaches, dizzyness, nausea and tinging in extremeties. all of which have gone except that i can't lunge my horses anymore because i get dizzy. crap.

but, all-in-all, i can still drag myself out of bed everyday, take care of our boarders' horses and our own, work eight hours, drive in rush hour two hours, clean and feed myself and hubby. so, life is good.

i second the cranio-sacral work, it is amazing. i also hope to start swimming again whenever i can retire from full-time work. swimming is a no-load exercise, great for the old joints.

every morning i do stretches, sit-ups and push-ups, just to keep the old bod strong.

fugs, you are going great on vlc. good for you. the pics from the early blog of you standing on the mounting block getting him used to things above him compared to the pics from now -- the difference is amazing, one handsome boy.

verylargecolt said...

>>Point is she says herself in the post that she is unbalanced, and asks us about it.<<

To clarify: This is something I experience only when I am trying to twist around and pop the horse with the end of the reins, and I believe it's kind of a motion sickness thing that has developed with age. Whatever I am on, horse, car, whatever, I need to be looking forward or I lose my balance.

I am still perfectly capable of riding walk-trot-canter bareback, and have never fallen off, so clearly I don't have huge balance issues. It's a very specific problem that I noticed developed around ten years ago. I am hardly flopping all over my horse in the manner of a dying fish and affecting his balance, as you seem to be visualizing.

verylargecolt said...

Interesting article on the balanced seat, although I think it's odd they state that polo uses it. Polo players ride with some of the shortest stirrups you will EVER see. I have worked for 6' tall players and could comfortably ride in their irons. They HAVE to ride short because you cannot play polo if you can't get far out of the saddle to hit and twist around.

Example pictures:

Example #1

Example #2

Don't try to tell me riding this way isn't secure, because if it wasn't, you'd get yourself killed. Polo is some of the hardest riding around and it is accomplished with short stirrups and a *gasp* chair seat.

The Europeans scorning how we Americans ride is not exactly can read that debate any day of the week on COTH. You ride how you think best, and we'll ride how we think best, 'k? I've fallen off once in the past ten years that didn't involve the horse going down, so I do believe I'll be sticking with what works.

austriancurls said...

I'm American, and I'm addressing your balance issue, not the argument between this and that seat. The point was clear and had nothing to do with the debate of American vs. European, rather you rhetorically asked about balance, and I mentioned centering your seat ;)

austriancurls said...

About the horse going down, this was caused by mismanagement of the arena, and was discussed with 10 different managers (including our own) with the management of the facility in order to correct it and provide safe-footing in the future. If you do various shows, then you'll will understand the importance of proper footing.

The other incident was my fault, which I fully admit. However, I don't have insecurity issues when riding, and work to balance my seat, and when someone offers advice I listen rather than say, I'll stick to something that works...when I've already said earlier that balance issues, issues of confidence and issues with coordination are cropping up while bringing a green horse under saddle.

Just to be clear.

fuglyappy said...

Try BioSematics, if you can find someone that can work on you and teach you the moves to continue at home. I have the original person here, and she is WONDERFUL. I have had tremendous back pain after doing a doozy to my sacriliac. I also get tendonitis if I move my elbow repetitively for even short periods of time- ie. scooping poop. The pain goes away and it keeps it from coming back. Or try yoga. Not pilates, yoga. Take care of your body,now, before it's too late.

Cassandra said...

About 7 years ago my greenie mare was being squirrelly going in to the canter, slipped, and fell on my ankle (which managed not to break). I went to the chiropractor who did an exam and thermal scan on my neck/upper back and noted that he typically saw that type of injury in bad vehicle whiplash type injuries. The pain now varies depending on usage, ranging from unbearable to almost unnoticeable.

Between that and growing up as a "lesson barn junkie" - hanging around the barn and riding anything anyone would let me, including greenies that would run me into walls, I can predict the weather with my knee and ankle!

Yoga-type stretching helps a lot. I'm sure physical therapy would help too, but I haven't tried it. I'm only 26... I can't wait to see how this progresses. (ha)

Cassandra said...

I also have severe sciatica-like (it hasn't been diagnosed) symptoms, mostly in my left hip. I can't pin it to a particular incident, but it can significantly hinder my riding. Again, stretching makes this manageable, as does allowing myself to fully warm up before starting any schooling work.

Light bareback riding also helps a lot.

barngal said...

I'm amazed at all the injuries and most of the riders are still in the saddle!

I'm also enjoying the exchanges going on about the balanced seat or lack of and the importance of proper footing. I have a feeling it could get a lot more interesting.

I'm far from a perfect rider and will be the last to critcize unless it's for an equitation class and even then, the final opinion is the judge. My horses have always done well for me so I must be doing something right.

Just read something (I thought was interesting) in Practical Horseman talking about Phillip Dutton and Rodney Jenkins and their "style" of riding. The author says "Don't copy the way he rides, copy the way the horses go." He goes on to say what Dutton should do (in the photo) but then adds, "Nevermind all that theory, look at the way Simon (the horse) is jumping!"

June Evers said...


You know I had such terrible back pain that it used to knock the wind out of me. I had x-rays and it was pretty bad osteo-arthritis from too many falls in my younger days.

I went to this weird woman who laid her hands on me, talked to dead people (I kid you not!) and I have had a pain-free back since then! Who knew! But I continue to see this woman and she cures all that ails you. Cured a prolapsed uterus too. ???!!! I know, I'll be black balled because this all sounds too weird.

I too HATE doctors always prescribing something or another. It makes me feel like they are patching things up rather than getting to the root of the problem...which is some weirdness in your body, according to this woman??? Again, I'll take it. Back pain is the WORST!

Good luck fugs and try to find a weird woman like mine in your area...She does the cranial sacral stuff and ....I'll have to find out exactly what the term for what she else does is. SER, spontaneous emotional release or something... She says people all over do it...It's worth it if she rids you of back pain!

Miss A said...

I'm 27 and have on and off lower back pain, honestly sometimes feels like painful grinding in the area where the spine connects to the pelvis. I've never had any bad falls (yet, heh heh) and have ridden since I was a kid. I wonder if it's wear and tear from riding though?

equinewoods said...

I am seventeen years old and already have horrible pains in my back and legs. Working on a ranch is hard, very hard and especially so for a female. Days of getting off and on several times in a row, on a 16.2 thoroughbred can start to hurt. I have fallen off several times when cutting some of the cattle in the sorting pens, I have been trampled by cows and horses but it wasn't anything compared to a fall I had when I was fourteen.

I did some english events for a very, very short time. My trainer convinced my parents and I to buy a horse that was extremely green and nervous and one day during a lesson he spooked and I got dragged for a very long time. I broke my tail bone and messed up my leg and spine, but other than that I was ok.

It really hurts to ride for a long time (over an hour), I need a horse that is very smooth and calm so I can stay balanced and in the saddle, lol! I still do some ranch work, and riding is my passion so I hope to be like that old cowgirl but I look really odd in the saddle, there is a distinctive curve in my back that looks.. weird and I can't sit straight, but I deal with it, no equitation classes for me! lol!

Jess9687 said...

From where I'm sitting there is not much at all wrong with Fug's position.

(just putting in my 2c - cause I'm SURE it was needed lol)

DiamondWillow said...

I am a 39 on again, off again re-rider and have pain in my neck that was caused when a QH racehorse reared while I was holding him and his head came down directly on the top of my head (I was 13)... I WAS wearing a helmet - not sure if it did any good, but to this day I have chronic neck pain that will give me headaches, especially if I am sitting or standing in a poor position. (I still hear the 'crunch' sound and the feeling of being an inch shorter... I wonder if that is why I am so much shorter than the rest of my family??) Had some PT done when I was several years older but I would get migraines afterward - at 17 I did not feel like tolerating them anymore - they got worse each time I went! These days when I ride I am able to crack and pop that neck until the stress and pain is GONE... only when on horseback though - must be my better posture(yeah RIGHT)!!
I have a young 2yr old gelding here who - before he got gelded, decided a couple of months ago to get stupid and wrenched his lead while I was leading him for turnout - it twisted my knuckles in such a way that now I have this chronic pain in my fingers... in an arthritic kind of way - SOOOO those big old white MSM/glucosamine pills daily for me now!! Seems to help THANK GOODNESS!!!
I have the everyday aches and pains I suspect but those are the war wounds I have... I do like that fact that at least I got them doing what I LOVE... :D

crystal said...

is it too late to post here?

i often ride in pain, my back due to my first horse, a 5 year old QH who assisted me to an unscheduled dismount 4 years ago. he bucked me off in the front yard, i'm just glad he missed the driveway. i broke two ribs and damaged some nerves in my lower back.

i am lucky in that my chiropractor says to keep riding, since it helps loosen up the back. there are some days, however, when it locks up totally and i can barely stand.

my other pain is from a total knee replacement in 2006. while it works just fine, and is very stable, there is always pain and tightness going, seemingly changing location and intensity on a daily basis. it's aggravated by wearing breeches and half chaps, since they both meet in the area of the knee.

while i am not happy about the results, i ride anyhow, both english and western. i take aleve when i need to and use a wonderful natural pain rub called Sambra on it.

getting old sucks.

ClunyCapull said...

I must add that I read this blog, for the first time Monday morning, and Monday evening, took a header off my "Black Horse" and have been in bed since!

(I am waiting for the inflamation and pain to go away so I can have my obviously-displaced pelvic girdle re-aligned and a booster shot of CST- bet I am 100% in no time!)


Power of suggestion?

Luckily the ex has come from 5 hours away to take care of critters for me- for the week.

Thats a pretty good ex.

a beautiful disaster said...

can you find me an ex like that? my most recent one makes a habit of calling me at 3 am, drunk, to tell me how much he loves me and how hot i am. >:(

Colta said...

Well... I do have a few problems (probably not good for someone who's only 19).
I've suffered a few concussions, which the doctors have told me is a bad thing.
As of right now though, the only thing really causing an issue is my ankles. I managed to tear some of the ligaments in both ankles multiple times skateboarding. Because of that, my right ankle is usually always in pain and very hard to keep in a stirrup for very long. Mostly it has to do with the regrown ligaments not being very strong. My ankle gets tired very easy and I start to loose the ability to keep it from bending in on it's self, so when I'm riding I have to really push myself to keep the proper foot position in the stirrup, other wise, my ankle wants to turn the underside of my foot into the horse...
I could see a doctor, but I doubt there going to do anything major... so I just said why bother?

MrBobber said...

If any of you have a herniated disk as a result of your accidents, there IS a solution. (other than surgery, which frequently causes additional problems) I herniated a disk in my lower spine as a teenager. For the next 50 years the pain slowly increased to the point where, 8-10 years ago, the first 4 to 5 hours of every morning were spent in severe pain where I could barely move. I had been taking Glucosamine & Chondroitin for several years, without any noticeable relief. I read about a clinical study in Europe that showed that adding MSM helped make the Glucosamine & Chondroitin more effective, so I gave it a try. After taking it for about 13 months my back pain was completely gone and has not returned for over 7 years. I still take MSM, Glucosamine & Chondroitin religiously. Although I am now 73 years old, for the past 4 years, while in Maui, my wife and I have hiked from the top of Haleakala (10,000' elevation) down the Sliding Sands Trail to the bottom of the crater, out across the far side and back up the Halemau'u Trail - about 12 miles with some serious elevation changes. Prior to adding the MSM, I could barely walk without severe pain! The MSM that I use comes from Rich Distributing in Portland, Oregon