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Any riders out there with RA?

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  • Any riders out there with RA?

    I'm really here to get some words of encouragement. Today I found out that some lab results came back RA positive. Though my doctor says that there are a few other autoimmune disease that can make it show up positive. I am being referred to a rheumatoid specalist and see what happens.

    My biggest worry is that I won't be able to ride. As of right now every time I ride my hands swell up and hurt to make a fist and to open them fully. Aches and pains from riding (you know the GOOD kinds) last for days and days after riding when before they would go away after a day or so.

    I'm only 21 years old...I shouldn't be having this much pain and this many joint problems, when i think about what it'll feel like in 10 years my brain goes wild on me.

    Are there any COTHers here that have RA and still ride?? Am I letting my imagination go away with me?
    Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!

  • #2
    have you seen this thread? may be of help...

    Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.


    • #3
      As my doctor said to me "We'll put you on some medicine and you will be fine". You're a little young for RA, but not completely out of the spectrum. I didn't ride for about 4 months while I waited for my medication to kick in. You will probably go on prednisone as a "bridge" medicine until your regular medicine kicks in.

      My best advice is to stay active, but monitor how you feel. Don't do it if it hurts, but keep moving. Whenever asked "How is your RA?" my aunt (who was diagnosed about your age) says "It's not mine, I don't claim it, so it doesn't own me". That's the attitude I've chosen to take. (But there are times I can use it as a great excuse not to do something I don't want!)

      There are ways to adapt your equipment (wear gloves and use thicker rubber reins for example). I know what you mean about your hands. To keep my fingers nimble, I knit, but I try to use thicker yarns and needles whenever possible, and limit the fine work to short stretches.

      I'm just hitting my 10th year, and honestly, I do feel better and less painful than I did for the 5 years before I was diagnosed.


      • Original Poster

        I read a few posts and I think it just sent my imagination into gallop into the sunset mode =/
        Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!


        • Original Poster

          Dob: Thank you for the encouragement! I love to crochet so I will probably pick that up again.

          What I mean about my hands is put your palm on a flat surface and spread your fingers out, I get excruciating pain when I do that and I can't make a closed fist *sigh* hopefully it'll get better when we start getting some warmer weather.
          Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!


          • #6
            I'm sorry you are having to deal with this so young, but the advise above re: "not letting it rule you" is really the way you have to look at it. You CAN still ride, and do most everything, you just have to learn to read your body & respect it's limits. It's really hard to slow down and learn to moderate yourself, but you will get there. I'm just about 3 years in, and still eff up, but I'm getting better. ;-0

            Exercise is even more important now, and keeping everything in "working order" can be a challenge. I have the same kind of issues with my hands, and I found using a large sponge & squeezing it whenever I'm just sitting around really helps. I also flex & stretch my hands a lot when I'm riding.

            There are quite a few folks on COTH that can give you advice & jingles, one of my dear friends, RM Jacobs, posts on here, and she's a wealth of knowledge & proof that anyone can overcome

            Good luck, keep your chin up & feel free to PM if you need anything.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you Bay! I will have to look into getting a small squishy ball, and I have a few yoga DVDs that I might end up putting into real good use. I'm so active so not to be able to do things without going home and lying down because it hurts to move is unnerving.
              Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!


              • #8
                OP, I have a friend who has RA and is a pro! Sure as sh!t, the woman rides.

                She has a good rheumatologist and I think Prednisone was part of her solution. It's a PITA drug in terms of side-effects, but it put her life back on track.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat


                • Original Poster

                  MVP, that makes me hopeful!

                  Guess I was just feeling sorry for myself, I've had 6 surgeries on my feet so I thought I was out of the woods medically speaking *eye roll*
                  Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!


                  • #10
                    I have RA and I ride. I'm twice your age, and I still found the diagnosis scary and overwelming (I'm way to young to hurt this much!). Treatment has really improved my quality of life.

                    For some immediate help re: the hands - have you tried ice and/or heat? There are some days when ice makes my hands feel sooo much better! I've heard others say heat helps them. Also, take a look at your grooming tools. Some are a little more 'hand-friendly'. Anything that requires extra effort to grip makes my hands sore.

                    Your rheumatologist should be able to prescribe something that will give some relief, although it may take a few weeks to be fully effective. I don't have any noticeable side-affects from the drug I take, and its really helping alot. Tell your rheumatologist what you want to do (keep riding) and if the first thing he recommends doesn't work, be sure to communicate that to him so you can try something else. Not everybody gets the same result from the same drug. And of course the results may not be immediate, so pay attention to what the Dr. says about how soon you should expect to feel better, and follow through with him if you don't improve as expected.

                    Reducing your stress in any way possible can help, and I agree with the poster(s) who said keep moving! When my RA flares I get very tired, but if I push through (but don't over-do it) I do feel better. I do best if I keep my exercise level pretty constant. I'm better if I ride (or walk, or swim) 5 days a week than if I ride 2 days a week.

                    Pilates helps me, and I've heard yoga is good. Working to maintain flexibility is important.

                    I hope you feel better soon!


                    • #11
                      Hehe your me 2 yeArs ago!!!! Cothers can attest to that!

                      Loop reins baby! Are a godsend!!!! Dont get "precision reins" they do not stand behind their products and mine broke

                      Martin york from york saddlery made me custom ones for $180 and well worth it!!!!

                      If you wanna know more of my trials and errors pm me!

                      Oh thinline half pad makes my back/hips happy! Not to mention horses like it
                      Beyond the Ring-para dressage, training, coaching

                      Proud Team Four Star Minion! Renegade for Life!


                      • Original Poster

                        I am so glad to hear there is hope! I've already decided that I can't keep my barn job, which stinks but I need some more hours and I feel if I give up a labor intensive job then riding might be easier on me.
                        Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!


                        • #13
                          oh it will be, Im sad i cant do real barn work anymore eithet but my coach will let me tack up horses,groom,graze them to my hearts content!!!

                          so i can still play with the fei horses just not ride them yet... but that may change when my riding improves too least for a couple of them(one did para actually)

                          its hard to swallow it may change the horses you can ride safely too, I have other issues but absolutly ra has a physical factor, sometimes i "bit up" if they are fresh, it saves my hands from pulling though the reins help that issue too!(note they piss off some horses cuz they cannot make you slip the reins)
                          Beyond the Ring-para dressage, training, coaching

                          Proud Team Four Star Minion! Renegade for Life!


                          • Original Poster

                            I don't own any horses of my own so I'm wondering how much the barn owners are going to be willing to accommodate me. I know though that I'll have to be in unbearable pain before I ask them to accommodate for me though, just my stubborn side.
                            Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!


                            • #15
                              I find alot are accommodating, heck sometimes its horses you wouldnt expect that work! It surprised me and a owner when a hot ex cci** eventer decided to babysit me!

                              Also my current coach was a coach for the canadian para team, so she is better able to make judgements horse wise, and know how to work with my physical limits
                              Beyond the Ring-para dressage, training, coaching

                              Proud Team Four Star Minion! Renegade for Life!


                              • #16
                                I was diagnosed at 22 but my symptoms started in my teens. (the process of diagnoses took a few years for me unfortunately)

                                I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. Sending lots of Jingles your way.

                                When I was in the process of getting a diagnoses I really struggled to ride even lightly. That being said, now I ride as consistently as I can; usually 4-5 days a week depending on a number of factors.

                                Make sure you make your goals and desires clear to your docs. They can help you keep going. You also have to clearly think through each treatment available for you though and decide what you are ok with. (for example I will do scary amounts of methotrexate, biologic and painkillers and will do just about anything to avoid any form of prednisone. But I take it when I have to).

                                I still ride green beans when I get the chance (or really anything equine that I have the priviledge to try) and I ride my off the track appendix qh and my old geezer horse. Just make the accomodations you need to make it work. I use racing reins because they are fatter and grippier and I can hold them better; they are also legal for dressage shows. I am pretty determined to be able to show as long as possible without a dispensation though. I will probably use loop reins once I can't tolerate anything else but I am putting it off. I also find thinline helps my (which really surprised me) back. If I find something that makes it easier on my knees, ankles, feet, and hips I will let you know. So far I just know jointed irons are NOT good.

                                It's ok to be stubborn but don't be afraid to ask for help before you completely run out of pain tolerance and energy. I have made that mistake more than a few times. I find having help with buckles is the best thing ever.

                                I still work as a show groom for my trainer whenever I can and I still love braiding (I adjust my technique as my hands get worse).

                                RA is different for everyone. Explore what works for you, and communicate a lot with your docs.

                                Feel free to PM me if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do to help.
                                My blog:



                                • #17
                                  I got diagnosed when I was 24. I'm not going to lie, the first two years were tough. I was training horses and showing in September, and by January I could hardly walk unassisted. It took a long time but now at 31 I am finally on a drug that works and is giving me good results both on paper and off.

                                  My Dr's at first told me not to ride but I have very sever RA, once I had a talk to my Dr about what exactly I would be doing (no jumping or speed events) they were more ok about it. The best thing that happened was that my Rheumatologist's daughter started riding and the Dr realised that if it was that important to her daughter it was most likely that important to me. I also always ware a helmet (some drugs can make you dizzy and slow your reaction times, always be safe!)

                                  I do want to recommend (if you don't already) look into a job with health insurance. I went back to school when I figured I wouldn't be able to pay the bills training horses any more and I am so thankful that I did. RA drugs are EXPENSIVE. I live in Canada where most health care is free, but my drugs and related therapy's are in the 30,000 to 40,000 range per year.

                                  I have a blog about my journey with RA http://justaplainsam.blogspot.ca/. Its kind of horse/RA all mixed together.


                                  • #18
                                    I was diagnosed 6 months ago. It took a while to get into the rheumatologist. I've been on methotrexate for about 7-8 weeks. I haven't had any bad side effects and I do feel better. I also am on oxaprozin and tramadol.

                                    I own/manage a small boarding/lesson/training barn. I've made some changes. I hired someone for barn chores 4 days per week. I found a local young man who has experience breaking horses and he comes out and does the first few weeks of rides on horses in to be broke. I was also lucky enough to have a wonderful assistant already in place - a young woman who works off her lessons and is very dependable and capable.

                                    All in all I am still able to do most things, but I am taking it a little easier and trying to be more careful. Oddly enough riding is one of the only times when I don't hurt somewhere. I feel quite comfortable in the tack.
                                    2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                                    • #19
                                      I am so sorry to read about what you are all suffering through and impressed to read how brave, optimistic and resourceful you are. I do not have RA, but I do have MS, which I have done a lot of literature research on. RA and MS are both autoimmune syndromes, and MS is positively affected by high vitamin D levels in the blood, so, I did a quick google search on 'Vitamin D and RA' and came up with several scholarly and informal sources of information indicating that low vitamin D is a risk factor for RA and that vitamin D supplementation can (sometimes dramatically) improve symptoms of existing RA. For MS, magnesium is also a factor, which is not surprising because Vitamin D, magnesium and calcium are the big three for nerve, bone and muscle function. A quick search on 'magnesium and RA' brought up some interesting results too.

                                      You can supplement with vitamin D3 and magnesium bought over the counter. I hope this helps somebody.