View Full Version : Herniated disc and GM clinic - WWYD?

Dec. 1, 2009, 11:54 PM
So last month I herniated a disc in my back for the second time. Actually, this time it was not one but two discs. Ug. I am only 26. And I herniated a disc for the first time when I was 20.

Now this problem is doubly riding related, because both times I noticed my back start to hurt, I happened to be cantering a circle to the right. No "incident", no fall, nothing; just cantering a circle to the right.

And, um, I am not even supposed to be riding yet, but I have been riding anyway despite the risks. Why would I do such a foolish thing? Because I am to ride in the George Morris clinic at Clemson in four weeks! :eek:

First off, I realize that I cannot even mention my injury during the clinic since it will sound like I am making excuses. That should be no problem, because I tend to err on the side of toughing things out. And at this point, I really think I can do it. I've been fine with no stirrups, fine with everything for at least a week now and I have four more to prepare and to determine whether I really am okay.

(That being said, I want to be respectful of the clinician and other participants, and if I decide I am likely to be a problem, I will not participate.)

My questions are:

Has anyone ever dealt with an injury during a big clinic, particularly a GM clinic?
Has anyone ever seen how GM handles an injured rider, whether the rider was injured in a fall during the clinic or showed up already injured and and ended up unable to ride / complete the clinic?
And based on the above, how should I handle my injury? Go with my gut and try to keep it under wraps? Or something else?

I also need reassurance that I will not be humiliated should something happen during the clinic, particularly if I am hurt in what appears to be a simple exercise. :no: Or if I might be humiliated, I'd like to know ahead of time.

Any input y'all have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance, everyone!

Dec. 2, 2009, 12:05 AM
I am 42, and have had several herniated discs in my lower back since I was about 18, also from a riding accident.

I use a thinline pad, and those flexible stirrups, and they have made all the difference in the world.

That, and an awesome chiropractor have done wonders. I used to go through a huge bottle of Aleve in a few days, now I have had the same bottle for a couple of months.

Don't ride the day before, let your back rest, and try those Thermacare heat wraps. The back size ones are great. They will help keep the muscles from going in spasm while you are riding. I wear them hunting and they are great.

All of that said, don't try to be a hero. If you are in agony during the clinic, politely explain and get off. I would recommend maybe have a friend or someone else there who can hop on your horse and take over, so at least he gets the experience. I did that at a Jon Holling clinic last year before my back got straightened out.

Dec. 2, 2009, 12:23 AM
Don't screw around with back problems. I don't mean to sound like a brat but I have multiple family members who have been absolutely debilitated by back pain, and their problems didn't start at 20. As Jaegermonster said, don't play the hero. If you're body's screaming, listen to it.

I would rest/heat your back the night before, and definitely tell him. Even if it's "I hurt my back a few weeks ago. Lately I've been feeling fine, but if it flares up again I may have to scale down or even stop. If this happens, I apologize and will quietly excuse myself." Especially since it seems to be triggered/caused by riding, be careful.

Dec. 2, 2009, 12:32 AM
I'd try to find yourself a good sports physiotherapist. The sports oriented ones seem to often be athletes themselves, so they get it.

I'm not familiar with the injury, but is it something a back brace would help? I know several people who ride in one and say that it really helps. Probably something you could find out about from a physio.

Flexible stirrups would probably help, but GM does seem to hate them... Maybe if you explained to him? :lol:

I'd also warm him beforehand, just let him know you have an injury, you anticipate that you'll be fine but if it flares up suddenly you would might have to excuse yourself. It would be nice if you could have a friend to trade off with, if that would be alright with GM and the barn hosting the clinic.

Dec. 2, 2009, 01:46 AM
Honestly, I'd skip this year if I were in your shoes. Flexible stirrups?!? :eek: He'll call you out on the first day and tell you not to come back with them (for me, it was slightly bling-y spur straps).

I fell off during my 3-day clinic with GM. Before my butt hit the ground, he was saying, "somebody get her back on her horse", and had moved on to the next rider. I didn't get my rear chewed for falling off (it was unavoidable), but he wasn't going to spend ANY time coddling me. I think you'll find he won't have much sympathy for you if you can't keep up, and if you let him know ahead of time that you are injured he'll ask you why you're there "wasting his time".

I'm not trying to be harsh, just trying to show you the reality of the situation. There will be another opportunity; chill, heal, and then prepare for next time.

Dec. 2, 2009, 02:02 AM
I would also err on the side of your long term health, rather then short term goals. Perhaps your trainer or someone could ride your horse in the clinic? GM is NOT a heartless soul-less monster, I would get in touch with the clinic organizers and see what they recommend.

Dec. 2, 2009, 03:01 AM
Uh, no... no. Stop riding. Listen to your doctor. You can audit the clinic. You need to take the time to heal. Better to go slow now. Would you be asking us if you should ride you injured horse so that you can do the GM clinic? You owe it to your horse to be at your best.

Dec. 2, 2009, 03:37 AM
I have nothing to say about your back, other then I would take it easy. I don't usually listen to my dr either when they say not to ride, so I can't say much about that.

I was at a GM clinic a couple weeks ago, he really has mellowed with age. One girl fell off when her horse tripped, he told her she needed to go to the hospital if she was hurt or get back on if she wasn't. very simple. :)
Just don't sit in his chair if he gets on your horse. that was the only time he really ripped into someone. :P

good luck, I hope you heal fast:)

Dec. 2, 2009, 03:48 AM
I've never been around GM ever, but my gut tells me that he is a human too (imagine that!) and you should most definitely mention to him that you have back issues and it MAY become a problem during your ride. If it DOES become a problem, you will discreetly let him know and excuse yourself so as to not take away from the many other riders who are still able to ride and get use of the lesson. (I'm not gonna lie though...if I were a clinician and someone came to ride KNOWING they might end up struggling because of a KNOWN issue ... I'd be a little annoyed)

That isn't said to sound mean at all, but more for the fact that if you have an issue with your back, it isn't the problem of the other paying riders (because yes, it will draw attention to you). Its your responsibility to take care of yourself....whether that means ducking out early because you can't go anymore....or not riding at all.

I'm one of those who will tough it out too, but some parts of our bodies are a little more important than others. Your back is a vital part of being able to ride a horse. YOU know yourself better than any of us and you should trust what your gut/intuition/body tells you to do.

M. O'Connor
Dec. 2, 2009, 06:08 AM
Put it this way...if you were your horse, WWYD?

There's your answer. Someone else will benefit when your slot becomes available, and you can always audit.

Dec. 2, 2009, 11:20 AM
I have a herniated disc and I would drug myself up and go, but that's just me. What kind of therapy are you doing for your back?

Two Black Cats
Dec. 2, 2009, 11:33 AM
My advice? Take care of yourself - and don't push it. If you are anything like me, you'll want to go all out physically, in the clinic (because, hey, it's GM!!) and give it your all. You may end up disappointed if your body doesn't cooperate and then you're left with an experience that might be less rewarding than what you had hoped for. My advice? Go audit and give yourself a chance to heal. I audited his Illinois clinic this past weekend and learned a tremendous amount from it.

Good luck and FEEL BETTER SOON!

Dec. 2, 2009, 12:56 PM
I caught a lesson (not a clinic) with Patty Heuckeroth years ago when I had a walking cast on my right foot. I just rode without stirrups, so no big deal.

But you are talking about herniated discs...completely different story. The damage can include loss of bowel control, spinal nerve injury and a lifetime of pain.

Is one lesson worth the risk?

Dec. 2, 2009, 01:33 PM
I've been fine with no stirrups, fine with everything for at least a week now and I have four more to prepare and to determine whether I really am okay.

I really don't mean this in a mean way, but the problem is...you're not okay. You know you're not okay. You have herniated disks. They are painful and a serious injury, and you are not supposed to ride.

This is no longer a question of, "are you hurt or are you injured?" You're injured. Be injured. It sucks to hear this when you're young. I'm also 26 and am headed to the doctor today to find out if I have a broken pelvis from a fall last week. I don't want to have that! But if that is the case, you can bet I'll be doing everything in my power not to let it become something that bothers me on the long term.

The GM clinic is NOT worth your long term health. We're young and we have lots of riding ahead of us, but we're old enough to where we need to be thinking of the future. I would ask if you can get a partial refund and audit the clinic instead. It's possible that you'll learn more this way because you won't be focusing on how to ride through the pain or on hiding the fact that you're injured.

Don't be stubborn -- I also posted here because I really didn't want to have to go pay for more doctors visits and diagnostics, but the responses helped me realize that I need to take care of myself. Please do what you know you should, and take care of yourself. I hope you recover quickly.

Dec. 2, 2009, 02:28 PM
I should be telling you to listen to your doctor and not ride, but I've had multiple herniated disks ( I used to gallop race horses), and aside from the days that it was unbearable, I always continued riding. The year I had two at the same time, I moved down my fence height for a few months and skipped sit trots, but otherwise kept the same regime. Frankly, riding (a safe horse) in conjuction w/ my doctor's PT has my back feeling terrific these days (knocking on wood)!

I'd probably put my traditional stirrups on my saddle and ride in the clinic. This is assuming your pain isn't terrible and you feel confident you can do everything that he'll ask of you. If not, skip it. It's very expensive to ride in his clinics. Why waste your time (and his), as well as all that money, if you can't gain the full benefits of the experience?

Dec. 2, 2009, 05:21 PM
Oh us riders. Let's refer to that other thread about how riders make the worst patients. :P

I'd sit this one out and audit. Seriously. If your horse had a back that was out of whack, you would never consider getting on him to go in the clinic. Treat yourself the same way. You don't want to do serious long term damage when you're still in your twenties.

In the meanwhile, start working with a person who deals with sport related injuries. I've recently started working with an MFR person who is learning Kinesio-taping. It's AMAZING stuff. I can go from not being able to walk (right hip likes to drop several inches on ocassion) to feeling like a million bucks in 15 minutes. I don't know how well it would work for back injuries, but it might be worth looking into.

Dec. 2, 2009, 06:14 PM
Being a member of the bulging & herniated disk crew, I seriously sympathize with you. I'm honestly not the person to advise you to ride/not ride -- I've decided both ways when special riding occasions (clinics, shows, etc.) coincided with "back attacks".

Like many here, I also have an orthopedist/sports med who just shakes his head when he sees me coming. He has also recommended that I not ride until I semi-heal. Oftentimes I agree with him (especially when he gives me "the look"). But knowing the stubbornness of most people obsessed with their respective sports, he does what he can to put me on a protocol to get me back up and running. Talk to him/her - a short course of epidurals (not anyone's idea of fun by a LONG freaking shot), but you could possibly get two sessions in in the 4 weeks you have before the clinic. That, in conjunction with icing (not heat) to reduce any inflammation and maybe some e-stim treatments might help.

My personal experience with kinesio-tape: was sort of effective for supporting my shoulder after rotator cuff surgery/PT of my shoulder and on my knee but pretty close to zero effectiveness for my herniated discs UNTIL I eliminated the inflammation issue that was exacerbating the injury. And even then, it worked more to just pull on my skin and "remind me" to not flex in a way that would make me more inclined to aggravate my back.

Having said all of that, if you are riding a greenie or a horse inclined to spook, audit. Falling off could result in the problems MyGiantPony identified. And at 26, that's not a legacy that you want to deal with for the rest of your life.

Good luck.