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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 22, 2008
    Posts
    32

    Default Riding after stroke--Balance aids

    A year ago I had a massive brainstem stoke and was initially "locked in" (paralyzed from the nose down). I've made amazing regains--I can walk with a cane, talk, eat, and move all my limbs. I had the stroke just when I was ready to start my "dream" mare. I was going to lease her but the more that process lingers, the more I'm reconsidering. I really want to try at least sitting on a horse again--and my PT and rehab doctor have all said how great equestrian therapy would be (I was actually working on ET instructor certification when the stroke hit). Anyway, to make a long story short: My horse has now had five months of professional training. My parents and I are going out to see the trainer today, and see if she thinks she can help me get back around horses, especially mine. Because my girl is greenbroke, she is far from ideal, but she's very mellow when ridden. My biggest fear is that she throws random temper tantrums when she's led. However, I've had her since she was a yearling, and I'm thinking the familiarity would help. I would never be alone, and I would use a helmet and body protector--I'm on Coumadin as well, so aware of avoiding impact injuries (internal bleeding)--I've had enough health drama for a lifetime, I'm all for avoiding more! My biggest fear is that if I send her away, I'm just going to give up riding--the thought of starting over blows my mind anyway. Unfortunately, my horse before her would have been perfect--he would do anything to take care of me and I would have trusted him completely at this--It's made me grieve his death all over again.

    Anyway, finally getting to the point...ANY advice would be appreciated, but I'm specifically trying to figure out some good riding shoes--English or western--I don't care. I still have pretty intense balance issues, so I need something comfortable, with ankle support (just finishing healing a torn ligament), the minimum heal, a wide base of support, and rounded toe. Any tips? Any other aid recommendations? I'm trying to keep it as cheap as possible because I'm still waiting on SSI and Disability and I've used up my retirement accounts, so I've been able to keep her and stay in my house soley because my parents have helped so much and are pretty much supporting us at the moment.

    Thanks,
    Indigo

    p.s. Any therapy/adaptive mounting block plans or sketches would be invaluable as well (Just occurred to me--still have to scour the forum)



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 26, 2003
    Location
    Joliette, QC, Canada
    Posts
    4,286

    Default

    It happen to a good friend of mine and he found out a specialized riding facilities with all expertise and equipment to help him to get back on his horse.

    I believe you should be looking for that kind of center, organisation and they could be able to help you.

    You know, with all the determination you show to keep your mare, I am sure you will be back soon in the saddle !
    Élène

    Fighting ovarian cancer ! 2013 huge turnaround as I am winning the battle !..
    http://esergerie.wordpress.com



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2001
    Location
    Puget Sound area
    Posts
    512

    Default mounting ramp plans

    This may be far more than what you need, but is a good jumping-off point.

    http://www.narha.org/PDFfiles/RampPlans.pdf

    Best of luck with your continued recovery!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 18, 2005
    Posts
    928

    Default

    Its the temper-tantrum while leading part that bothers me, as NARHA instructor. Due to your balance problems, it would probably be best to have a leader at least, or a leader plus sidewalkers to start with. That way you can focus on getting your awareness/balance back for a bit before you HAVE to worry about what Fluffy is doing. You can also feel how your body will react to turns/changes in pace before you HAVE to orchestrate those transitions too.

    Will your mare tolerate the ground leader and/or sidewalkers for a bit? Or no?



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 22, 2008
    Posts
    32

    Default

    KLS: Thanks--it didn't even occur to me to check NARHA--Duh!

    In_: To reassure you I probably wouldn't ever lead her, and I will definitely have sidewalkers--I'm scared to death ! I talked to the trainer yesterday, and she has offered to let me use her horse for brushing and leading. She also thinks Ella would work for getting on, because she's very calm under saddle, especially walk and trot.

    It was wonderful to see her, and I'm feeling a lot more confidant!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2002
    Location
    Dungeon of the Ivory Tower
    Posts
    20,394

    Default

    Please keep us updated! And best of luck.
    www.specialhorses.org
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues




  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 23, 2009
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    310

    Default

    Hi Indigo! I am 3 years away from a stroke I had. It was not as severe as the one you have suffered, but I have also lost my balance and some if not most of the feeling on my right side.

    I still ride. In fact, I was close to 10 days post stroke when my neurologist suggested I either get on my horse ASAP or a therapy horse. Up to that point I had been making plans to have someone anyone ride him!

    I had to use a walker and/or a cane to walk around the barn and my daughter rode my draft cross for 20 minutes before I got on for that first time. I have not looked back. I was so scared then too

    I rode him all summer and feel that this made all the difference in my world. I did sell him because I could not keep up w/his antics and high energy.
    but I have a QH mare who is really sweet.

    I lean to the right - loss of balance - my latest instructor has caught this, I cannot feel right hand to mouth rein contact so I have to peek and sometimes I relie on my instructor to catch the small stuff I cannot.

    It seems to me that being afraid is normal and natural. Until you can figure out how your new body will react and you WILL continue to heal and recover, you might be better off riding your instructor's horse. I had difficulty mounting and dismounting due to leg weakness which so surprised me.

    Do the most you can as soon as you can as that is the earliest you will heal.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 22, 2008
    Posts
    32

    Default

    Hannahsmom: Thanks for responding! It's wonderful to hear from someone who has been through this!!! I've found that explaining the balance issues is difficult--I've had the best luck with "I'm a human ping pall ball" ;-) Riding seems to be the biggie for physical therapy--core strength and balance--my rehab doctor keeps bringing it up. Unfortunately, I had a vestibular disorder before, just to top it off--so I couldn't get started sooner

    I'm so excited to go out to the barn this Wednesday! Even just feeding my horse treats over the fence and petting my trainer's horse in the cross-ties last week made me feel so much more confident. I really think that working with the horses is going to make me more confident in "real life" as well...I'm excited! Having ridden for twenty years and horses having been so important in my life, being so separated from horses/riding has really taken more of a toll than I realized! I feel like I lost my life as I knew it, so regaining the horses is really exciting! Can you tell I'm excited?! LOL



  9. #9
    Join Date
    May. 23, 2009
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    310

    Default

    Dear Indigo, I was afraid I said too much! truthfully you are the first horseperson who has stroked I have met.

    I do still find mounting to be the scariest part of riding, that and circling to the left due to the balance issue. For me, height of the mounting block, height of horse and STILLNESS of horse are cruitial or I have trouble as I just cannot get my right leg over very well. I am also 56 and not as agile as I once was! LOL

    Right after my stroke, mounting was not so bad as I had had my draft x for a few years and had taught him to stand still and to be kicked being mounted & dismounted for other reasons. But these came in handy later.

    You have ridden more and are a better rider than I ever was and will be. I know you will be just fine.

    What worries me is if your green mare might not appreciate your weaknesses or off balance issues at the beginning. But since you have another horse available it sounds good.

    Even tho Diesel was still green we walked out back at my barn for weeks.He was so good while I was so weak & ill.
    I attribute all this time on him to me walking so well. Horseback walking is like human walking and it makes connections in the brain that we stroke people need.

    Once I was more or less "well" he took to bolting on me out there and I could not trust him and finally sold him.
    Rita



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 6, 2004
    Location
    central New York State
    Posts
    2,845

    Default

    Please do keep us updated. We would love to hear your insights, challenges and rewards.



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