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Riding with Multiple Sclerosis or degenerative discs?

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  • Riding with Multiple Sclerosis or degenerative discs?


    I am bless with the most amazing mother on the planet, but she is a captive of the disease multiple sclerosis.

    She rode and had horses throughout her youth and I'd like to help her get back into riding. She is blessed with minimal symptoms and is fully functioning due to diet control and conscientious resting, she is not on any MS related medication.

    Her biggest triggers are stress and heat which I think are easily avoidable. She is very fit walks 3 miles twice a day and lifts weight every other day so I think riding is not going to be too big of a physical problem.

    She also has had two back surgeries due to degenerative discs and is fully healed from them. I worry more about her back then the MS.

    So anyone else ride with MS or have delt with degenerating discs?
    “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

    !! is the new .

  • #2
    My understanding is that both mounting and un mounting, as well as smoothness of gait are all critical for these situations. I would reccomend a custom built mounting block, high and solid, so she can sit *down* on the horse. You may also want to look at gaited horses to avoid the posting/sitting trot issue. BarbaraJ11 I think started the Horseless riders and Ridersless horses thread because she needs a gaited horse due to back issues.
    Additionally, it should go without saying that all riders who have ongoing back injuries can be benefited from wearing a safety vest, which will reduce impact from falls (but not crushing falls.)
    Best of luck finding your mom a way to ride, if you live close to NJ let me know!
    Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of the Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


    • #3
      There are lots of us on the board. I suggest you PM Nemo and ask for Mary Jordan. She is a MS spokesperson and a grade 4 rider. She is the organizer of the clinic in Maine that is on the board. Learn about the clinic, there are opportunities to learn from some of the best in a supportive atmosphere.
      Intermediate Riding Skills


      • #4
        agree with the high mounting block idea; i volunteered for 5 yrs at a TR barn, and we had a client with MS. she found it easiest to mount from the ramp, where she could sit palfrey on the horse and then swing her bad leg over.

        she found riding to be very helpful (as well as just liking the horses ). what was interesting was that she could not voluntarily bend her bad leg at the knee, but when we asked her to lean over and hug the horse, both the good and bad legs instantly bent to wrap around the horse's barrel.

        we had to keep a close eye on the temps though, and make sure we always had cold water for her if she got too hot. we also had one of the PT's keep an eye on her during the summer.
        Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.


        • #5
          What does "sit palfrey" mean?
          Intermediate Riding Skills


          • #6
            i was trying to find an image, but all i'm getting is the mayflower madam....

            sit absolutely sideways, as opposed to sidesaddle. this is the way ladies used to ride in the middle ages; the saddles were long and flat so that they sat basically at a 90 degree angle to the long axis of the horse.
            Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.


            • #7
              This is me!!! MS and degenerative disc issues

              Right now I am nursing a torn rotator cuff and a popped achilles so mounting and dismounting are both out of the question.

              A wide stable block or ramp and being able to lean over the horse to mount was good for me. Once I had my body positioned on the horse I could easily swing my leg over, raise my torso and find my stirrups. I found with my height that a 15 hh horse was perfect for me. Any taller and I couldn't do it without pain. Dismounting always had to be done at the ramp for me.
              I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

              Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


              • #8
                A cooling vest from Cool Medics can really help keep the core temperature down to combat the MS heat sensitivity.


                • #9
                  Create the ideal mounting block

                  I bet they lost a lot of Ladies,when they rode palfrey. Was the horse a different shape, too? I read about palfreys and I assumed that that meant a mare. Any medevial (sp?) scholars out there?

                  I am asking smartpak to create a high mounting block for us. Please give me lots of feedback. I have asked for a collapsible feature for travelling. what is on your wish list?
                  Intermediate Riding Skills


                  • #10
                    DEgenerative disc disease, wow, I am the POSTER CHILD for that one! LOL I ahve had this since I was a teenager and now am 51 years old. I have had three sugeries, the alst being in 1989 where they fused my spine and put in three metal plates. Awful surgery and recovery, but I ride with no issues other than sitting trot is difficult. I am VERY stiff and walk like I am leaning into a stiff breeze! But I still lift 50# bags of feed and hay and work hard on the farm, so yes it can be done. Cannot comment on the MS however.


                    • #11
                      I just found out a month ago that I have a degenerative disc as well (I am 36). So far, I go to regular chiro appointments and am to do exercises to help stregthen my core. At first my chiro didn't want me to ride at all (well, he still doesn't), but he felt guilty about taking something away from me that I love so much. As a compromise, I told him I'd lay off the jumping for a while and I bought a Thinline pad to see if that would help any.

                      Anyway, I'm really interested in the responses here since this is pretty new to me. Thank you for starting this thread, OP.
                      "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."


                      • #12
                        Not to minimize any one's problems but I would be extremely surprised if every single one of us on COTH didn't have degenerative disc disease to some extent. I was first diagnosed at age 16 with it in my lower back. Now that I am older its in my neck as well. Its the nature of the beast with equestrians. A good chiro is priceless.
                        McDowell Racing Stables

                        Home Away From Home


                        • #13
                          I have degenerative disc and degenerative joint disease. They are the least of MY spine problems. I also have severe spinal stenosis with much resultant nerve damage,+ three herniated discs as well. Not supposed to ride at all but took it back up after 12 yrs , last yr. I find the only way I can mount is to be the same height as her back and just then slide on. I do this with my aluminum step ladder. Just plunk it down and climb up and on. On days when I have no feeling or am very numb it is harder but I make it work. Where there is will there is a way. Not looking forward to the day where I have to remount, without my ladder, would likely have to walk home.

                          Dont have MS so no suggestions there.


                          • #14
                            I bet they lost a lot of Ladies,when they rode palfrey. Was the horse a different shape, too? I read about palfreys and I assumed that that meant a mare. Any medevial (sp?) scholars out there?
                            it was nice if the horse had a very smooth or easy rolling gait.

                            A cooling vest from Cool Medics can really help keep the core temperature down to combat the MS heat sensitivity.
                            ooh, excellent idea! i run into that former client occasionally at the grocery; i'll have to remember to mention this to her...
                            Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.


                            • #15
                              I have had several clients that had me make sidesaddles for them so they could continue riding in spite of their physical issues. In Washington State I made a black Western sidesaddle with a siderail for an MS patient. I also made up a Western off-side for a lady in the Mid-West who had lost he right leg to cancer of the bone. Many of my clients have back problems and the sidesadlde allows them to ride in a sitting position keeping their back straight up and down. Astride they would have an S curve to their low back causing lots of pain.


                              • #16
                                Riding with Multiple Sclerosis or degenerative discs?

                                what part of WA are you in? contact info? i might need to call on you as we get our Equine Assisted Therapy up for our wounded warriors.

                                Heartbeat Warrior
                                Heartbeat Warrior


                                • #17
                                  My mother has MS and is in the later phases. Your mom sounds as if she is early and could be just fine, but there should probably be somebody available to handle horse care if she "crashes". For example if she overheats and needs to stop riding then untacking the horse and putting it away really should be done by someone else or she will just exacerbate her issue and possibly cause a flare. It's a sucky disease, just keeps taking away your ability to do anything.
                                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                  Incredible Invisible


                                  • #18
                                    If you search "cooling vests" you'll find a product that will help your mother stay cool. I have tried it and it works. I also am very heat intolerant. They sell three different levels of cooling vests and wraps including headbands which will keep your mother cool. Horse stores sell a cute but very( 3X) expensive vest that are made of the same fabric. I bought a neck wrap to see if it helps and it really makes a huge difference for me. I use it anytime I'm outside in the heat and heat for me is 75 and above! I don't have MS just most of the symptoms, unknown diagnosis.


                                    • #19

                                      If you search "cooling vests" you'll find a product that will help your mother stay cool. I have tried it and it works. I also am very heat intolerant. They sell three different levels of cooling vests and wraps including headbands which will keep your mother cool. Horse stores sell a cute but very( 3X) expensive vest that are made of the same fabric. I bought a neck wrap to see if it helps and it really makes a huge difference for me. I use it anytime I'm outside in the heat and heat for me is 75 and above! I don't have MS just most of the symptoms, unknown diagnosis.


                                      • #20
                                        Hi Everyone!

                                        I have been reading all of your posts about riding with MS and degenerated discs and I wanted to suggest OnTyte Magnetic Stirrup System as a sitrrup option. It is a relatively new product that has really taken off in the jumper ring, especially with top international grand prix riders (Laura Kraut, Nick Skelton, Richard Spooner, Micheal Whitaker, and many more!) It has also proven to be extremely effective for riders with disabilities since the magnets in the boots and the stirrup help to keep the stirrups in place with little effort.

                                        Christine Righeimer, who has MS, says "There are not enough words to describe how much [OnTyte] has helped me ride with my MS. I can stop worrying about losing my stirrups when I lose feeling in my feet and be a more confident rider again”

                                        Check out the website, www.ontyte.com
                                        For updates about OnTyte, and show results from OnTyte riders, become a fan on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pa...9604122?ref=ts)
                                        Follow OnTyte on Twitter (http://twitter.com/OnTyteStirrups)

                                        Feel free to email with questions, ontyte@gmail.com