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Problems riding after breaking a leg? How about two?

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  • Problems riding after breaking a leg? How about two?

    Three weeks ago I was in a car accident that left me with not one, but two broken legs. I broke my femur and my ankle (break on the inside and hairline fracture on the outside) on my left leg and my tibia and fibula and a sprained my ankle on my right leg. I had a four hour surgery to insert rods into my upper and lower leg. After over a week in the hospital I started physical therapy to learn how to re-walk. At this point I can walk with crutches and am starting to get flexibility back.

    Doctor says 6 months till I can ride again but I am worried about my ability to ride. I will have to re-learn how to ride muscle wise and im not sure how well my ankles will fare in the stirrups and if will be able to jump again even after I heal...Before the accident I had limited flexibility in my ankles from another accident and now this.

    I am finding it very hard to have little contact with my horses. Since the accident I have only pet them once and my mare was busy trying to eat my wheelchair . My parents can't wait for me to get well again, they are getting tired of feeding them, I don't blame them though I am the only horseperson in the family. I may have a gal who is interested in riding my gelding as she is looking for another horse to ride in preperation for a college riding team next year, she is also helping out getting the horses to the vet this weekend so everything is still being cared for. I will say the thought of riding is pushing me to work harder as I am determined to ride again.

    Any encouragment? Im starting to ponder the thought about switching to western. Anyone have success to share?

  • #2
    Oh no, I am SO SORRY that you are going through this!!! You WILL get through it, I spent over a year off horses re-habbing my back, and I thought I'd never recover mentally from the stress of looking out the window and seeing my horse and not being able to get on or even lead them around. But... they are incredible incentive for doing ALL of your PT. I think that as long as you do a LOT of PT and always ask for as many stretches as you can, there's some pretty good outcomes now from surgeries like that. I haven't had leg surgery to that extent, so I may not be the best person to answer, but I did EVERY SINGLE BIT of rehab that was prescribed for my back, and I started riding again on an old schoolie and it was heaven on earth. I guess I'm just saying that mentally, it's really rough, physically it's really rough, but we horsewomen tend to be fitter to start with, more determined, and willing to do rehab since we've all spent time rehabbing our horses and therefore understand the value of the PT exercises and restrictions.

    Hugs and jingles your way for a speedy recovery, and hopefully someone else will chime in and give you a more specific answer, but keep your chin up, it WILL be over at some point and you WILL get back on your horse.
    Somewhere in the world, Jason Miraz is Goodling himself and wondering why "the chronicle of the horse" is a top hit. CaitlinAndTheBay


    • #3
      Oh boy - OUCH. I totally feel for you, but it sounds like you are good hands and the docs are getting you all situated. 6 months will feel like FOREVER, but it isn't and you'll make it through!

      While it's not really the same... I did break my ankle just over a year ago. I had surgery and couldn't ride (or even walk without crutches) for around 4 months. When I finally was able to start riding, I was so out of shape!

      While I couldn't ride, I was lucky to have some gal friends at the barn who rode my horse a couple times a week, and then he got t/o or lounged the other days. I would wrap my ankle and the surrounding boot in a big plastic bag when I went to visit my horse. I didn't go up as much (only 2-3 days a week, instead of 5-6) and was going totally stir crazy at home! However, the days I did go out helped. I gave him lots of pets and love, and the gals did all the grooming until I could balance enough to help.

      Anyhow, when I could finally start riding, I started very slowly. First, just walking around in the saddle, taking my foot out of the stirrup a lot to move my ankle around (luckily, my horse is a saint, and is very calm and willing to walk safely). I slowly added trotting, a few minutes at a time, and built up over about a month & a half, until I could make it through about 45 min of flat work. I added jumping slowly too (starting small) over about 1 month.

      During all of this, I was doing 2 days a week of physical therapy (then down to once a week later on). I asked my PT to work lots on riding position conditioning - getting heals down, squats, etc. Once I showed her the position, she was able to create exercises that helped build the right support back in my ankle.

      Anyhow, it sucks and will take time, but I'm sure you'll get back to it! Just take your time, make only achievable goals (with the help of your doctor and PT), and build slowly.

      Good luck! (and in your time off, get caught up on LOST or some other show you will become addicted to!)


      • #4
        I am currently at 10 weeks after an instant stressfracture to the Right ( Yeah, DRIVING ankle)

        The proverbial bad step.

        The soft tissue is the megaproblem.
        One day at a time, one ortho appointment at a time..
        Forget about riding for now..your goal is to make tomorrow, or next week better.

        Find the best possible PT that your insurance will cover.
        Follow all directions to the most minute detail

        My PT guy is NOT faniliar with riders.
        Golf, tennis, soccer and HighSchool Gymnasts yeah, but they use their bodies differently.

        My PT guy got so motivated to get my old and creaky body back on my beloved boy, that he researched youTube, and the Medal/Maclay rounds to see how my body, my horse and I work together,

        Hurry up and wait, you are onStall Rest....
        Go, Baby, Go......
        Aefvue Farms Footing Inspector


        • #5
          Be very careful with the femur fracture and do just as the doctor/pt says. This is not a fracture you want to screw around with.


          • #6
            Oh you have my complete sympathy on your breaks. I too fractured my ankle last winter and spent the entire winter on crutches. When I did finish my PT, I leased an old saint of a mare to putz around on. She was a huge aid in my continued therapy in getting more flexibility in that ankle. When ever she sensed an opportunity, she would stop very close to the fence so I would have to use my outside leg to get her to leg yield over. I'm certain she did it on purpose to keep me on my toes....

            Best of luck to you and continued good rehab! You will make it back, it just takes time.

            Arabian Clique


            • #7
              A good friend of mine broke his leg in an accident. His never healed and the leg was finally removed.
              He is a very balanced rider and rides a lot of green horses too.

              Take care and heal!!!!! A nonunion fracture is possible and is lots worse then a month or two of less horses.


              • #8
                That sounds really painful - best wishes for recovery!!

                Today is week 4 of my broken Fibula - clean break on the lower leg after my horse stepped on me. I've ridden a few times (less painful than walking!) without stirrups, but my balance was pretty off and of course, my horse had to adjust to me not using my left leg... (he would probably do fine with sidesaddle after this!)

                It will take you a while and you might have to "start over" to a certain degree, but I bet you'fll get there! Best of luck!
                "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                • #9
                  I have seen jockey break just about every bone you can possibly break and come back to ride so it is possible. They tend to have a higher pain tolerance/lack of self preservation instinct than the rest of the planet so your recovery might take a little longer but hopefully you will get there in time.
                  I must admit as a new EMT my first thought was I wish I was there to splint you up! We hardly ever get "good" calls like that!
                  McDowell Racing Stables

                  Home Away From Home


                  • #10
                    My son broke his femur back in October and spent 6 weeks in a body cast. Now, you could never really tell it happened except that his right leg is about 1/2 inch shorter than his left.

                    Do your PT and take it easy, you'll be back on a horse, but you need to take your time.
                    "Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care." ~Jimmy Buffett


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                      I have seen jockey break just about every bone you can possibly break and come back to ride so it is possible. They tend to have a higher pain tolerance/lack of self preservation instinct than the rest of the planet so your recovery might take a little longer but hopefully you will get there in time.
                      I must admit as a new EMT my first thought was I wish I was there to splint you up! We hardly ever get "good" calls like that!
                      Don't feed the troll.


                      • #12
                        Sorry about your accident!

                        Do take your doctors advice and don't rush back into riding. Get yourself well healed and fit again before getting back in the saddle.

                        I broke my left leg badly in April of 1999, now I have arthritis in my left hip and knee as well. I do find that riding in a Western saddle is a little easier on the days I'm hurting, but that may not hold true for everyone.
                        Save lives! Adopt a pet from your local shelter.


                        • #13
                          OW! Damn, that sounds painful!

                          No broken legs here, but several broken bones. Keep up with your physical therapy and don't overdo it. Getting the muscles back IS hard, but it's doable with time and effort!


                          • #14
                            OP is not a troll, we have not heard from her for awhile but she never made up any tall tales before. Has taken contructive criticism well and has been here a couple of years on and off.

                            DJ, hang in there. And you may want to take up Western if that is what is most available in your area-and I know you are rural midwest. give you something to think about.

                            This would also be a good time to catch up on some reading and maybe some good videos/dvds. If somebody wants to get you something, make up a list of horse videos you want and where they can be obtained.

                            Stay busy. Use the down time to learn more. You are young and will live to ride again.
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                            • #15
                              Ooh, FE, good point. While you're not riding, do a lot of visualization.


                              • #16
                                Sorry to hear about your accident DJ! I really hope everything heals up okay!


                                • #17
                                  Regarding the ankles... once you have the okay of the PT person, doing alphabet's with your toes really, trully helps with the ankle flexibility.

                                  I did a lot of the at home PT work with my Grandpa after he broke his hip bone, and he went from almost no ankle movement, to being able to make somewhat legible letters.

                                  Here is to a speedy recovery!
                                  ~ Kimberlee


                                  • #18
                                    Wow, DJ, I am glad that you are OK! Ditto what everyone else has said regarding ankle flexibility.

                                    I would definitely look into western, at least for when you first start back to riding. I bet you could have your paint neck reining in no time, plus you might find that he has untapped talents in that direction.

                                    I hope that you heal really fast!


                                    • #19
                                      DJ - no advice, just big hugs!!!
                                      a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                                      • #20
                                        Wow DJ, jingling for a quick full recovery!
                                        Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of the Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.