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Riding While Medicated

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  • Riding While Medicated

    Oh dear this is such a can of worms. I'm currently only on 4 meds but when they change things can go wrong pretty fast. One extreme example was the time I came home, had a seizure (thanks wellbutrin!) and then was so confused and disoriented that I went to my lesson anyway. Ooops.

    Now, I have people at the barn who know what's going on with me and can point out when I'm not 100%. Or just shouldn't be riding. What kind of "safety nets" do you have like that if any?
    Forward momentum!

  • #2
    This is an interesting question. I've been on 3 different antidepressants in my lifetime and all have worked well for me. Mostly I'd end up switching to a different one because I ended up working for the company that made that one-lol. Here's what I've found...

    Prozac originally. Worked really well and I was happy with it. I did notice sometimes I would get so f%$#ing happy for no apparent reason-like I'd be driving down the road and just get positively revved up and giddy.

    I switched to Paxil because I worked for the company. Really worked well for anxiety-I was calm as a cucumber in just about any situation. I remember doing my first Prelim on my gray horse and there was a 20 minute hold on course right as I was about to enter the start box. Normally that would have caused a mental meltdown-but I stayed calm and focused. I did notice in hindsight (after I switched to another antidepressant) that it might have made me too calm. At the time, I was training my young homebred. Every time I felt myself about to fall, I wouldn't do anything to try to stay on-it was like "oh, I'm gonna fall, let me find a soft landing spot".
    Unfortunately, my instructor charged me a bottle of wine every time I fell, so it was getting kinda expensive!!

    I'm now on Effexor XR (again-worked for the company and I liked the idea of a dual mechanism of action). I think this product is the best of both worlds for me. I'm calm enough but now at least I try to stay on when I'm about to fall off. (I know, bottom line is not to fall but I am an eventer after all).

    I must admit, I didn't have anyone tell me differences in my personality but I did notice these differences myself in hindsight. I'm sure most of the pharmaceutical companies aren't even aware of all the side effects so sometimes it's just something you find out anecdotally. Hope this helps!


    • #3
      At one point I was on a prednisone for about a year and half. One of the potential side effects that in the case of an accident of some kind the prednisone could make me appear more shocky than the injury/accident would warrant.
      My doctor suggested that I put a note in my wallet with my ID so parametics/doctors would know to take the medication into consideration.
      I also made sure I mentioned it to my trainer/BO in case I fell off while riding.
      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by SonnysMom View Post
        At one point I was on a prednisone for about a year and half. One of the potential side effects that in the case of an accident of some kind the prednisone could make me appear more shocky than the injury/accident would warrant.
        My doctor suggested that I put a note in my wallet with my ID so parametics/doctors would know to take the medication into consideration.
        I also made sure I mentioned it to my trainer/BO in case I fell off while riding.
        That's a really good point. I sometimes think I should have a bracelet or something similar because of all the meds I'm on and the nasty reactions they can have with other meds. I now ask a pharmacist before I try anything, OTC or otherwise. Even vitamins! I get so nervous as I've had so many bad reactions and interactions.

        I think that the main point for me is to keep those around me informed so that when I'm feeling too good or too separated from reality, they can bring me back down!
        Forward momentum!


        • #5
          Just my 2 sense!

          IMHO being on meds per se shouldn't interfere with your horsie activities or stop you BUT....it's the side effects that can interfere. The meds are supposed to help you live, cope, function. It's managing side effects that's problematic I think. So.....it takes some practice to know when the SE's might peak so as not to ride if for ex: they make you sleepy or sedated or...drink some coffee to ward it off or....take your meds at a different time of day like after you ride. Time of day is rarely important for you to take meds. As long as its every 24 hrs...change it! I did! Wunnerful!!!

          Then there's pain meds. I don't see why you can't take them & ride BUT!!....again...experiment with timing to take them so that you are maximally pain managed but not zoned out. And of course be careful of the masking effect they can cause that may actually end up hurting your worse. Always take it easy. Avoid jumping or scarey riding when on analgesics, narcotics & such. Large doses of NSAIDS can make you kinda sleepy too....nothing that a glass of iced tea won't fix!! Not riding alone is probably smart too.

          Remember, with most meds you take long term = your body gets accostomed to them and SE's abate
          a lot. Work with them; they're supposed to be helping!!


          • #6
            And another thing about prednisone: really increases bruising. I've had some whoppers of a bruise and for the life of me I have no idea how I got it, but it looks like someone nailed me with a 2x4.

            Generally my asthma meds don't interfere, but when I do have to go on pred I have to be careful of the "pred rush" and "pred crash." Of course, since I take them for an asthma issue, that means I'm probably not riding anyway!
            a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


            • #7
              While I have ridden while on my meds (currently Oxycontin, Vicodin, Valium, Neurontin, Trazadone, and Cymbalta - thanks to fibro, raynaud's, chronic back pain, 4 low back fusions, and depression) with fairly few noticeable side effects, it's the getting to and from the barn that are a problem for me.

              To take enough meds to be able to ride comfortably, it's really best if I have someone who can drive me to the barn. It's an hour ride one way, and if I take my meds right before leaving the house, I'm usually feeling pretty good by the time I get to the barn so that I can tack up and have a nice, 20-30 minute walk/trot/maybe a little cantering ride. However, I don't feel completely comfortable driving myself during that first hour after taking the meds (part freeway, part twisty-turny back roads). While I'm certainly not what I would consider 'severely impaired', I also know that my reflexes/judgement are not quite what they should be while operating a motor vehicle (hence all the warnings on all of the bottles to "not operate heavy machinery while taking this medication").

              I've accepted the fact that for now I must ride much less than I would like to, although I do believe that when I can ride, it actually helps with some of the pain, while greatly improving my mood in general.

              I can usually get DH to drive me out to the barn once a month or so, and he doesn't complain too loudly if I get on and quietly walk around for 10-15 minutes (doctors say NO riding - we disagree on this subject quite frequently). Having other family members drive me out is even worse, as they feel the need to "run and tell" on me whenever I get on, then I get half a dozen phone calls asking if I'm crazy, stupid, have a death wish, etc. I don't think non-riders realize that while this may not be what the doctor told me I can/should do, doing it makes ME feel better, which should be the most important thing. Obviously I'm not going to go out and jump a 4' course, but some nice walk/trot/cantering on my very comfortable mare can make up for weeks of feeling like crap while stuck at home.

              I guess this turned into more of a vent than an answer to your original question. BTW, my trainer does know my complete situation and what meds I am taking. I also keep a list in my car, tack trunk, and wallet, in case someone needs to know what I'm on. Wonderful person that she is, whenever I show up, she takes time away from whatever she is doing to help me as much as she can, and keeps on eye on me while I'm puttering around to make sure I don't have any problems. Nice benefit of being at a very small, private barn.

              Sorry this ended up being so long . . . most people I know just don't understand the frustration of not being able to do something you love and have done all of your life, and I wouldn't wish the last 8 years of my life on anyone (well, maybe there are a few people . . . )
              ~*Friend of bar.ka*~


              • #8
                3DogNight-kudos for you for doing what brings you joy!

                Non horsepeople usually don't get it. Yes, riding can be a dangerous sport but sometimes people get that impression from the wrong folks. If you read the "boarders you love to hate" thread, there are a lot of people that just shouldn't be around horses period because they just don't have any common sense about safety. I think that sometimes adds to create worse statistics about horse and/or riding safety. How many people take one or two trail rides in their life and claim that they can ride horses?

                It sounds like you are doing everything as safely as you can. I hope things get better for you and you are able to continue to enjoy what you love to do.


                • #9
                  Mkevent - thanks for the encouragement It's nice to know that there are some people who 'get it'. To me, at least, it is SO worth the 3-4 days I will feel like crap afterwards for the hour or so I get to spend out at the barn.
                  ~*Friend of bar.ka*~


                  • #10
                    I wonder if a horse is considered "Heavy Machinery"

                    Once my body gets used to my meds, I ride. Generally, if I am going to have a problem with my new meds, I have a reaction quickly and it is often SEVERE (ie. anaphylaxis) I am on some heavy duty meds, but I have been on them for several years, so either the side effects have subsided or my body has learned to deal with them.

                    I never ride alone. There is always someone around when I ride. I generally need help mounting and dismounting, so riding alone is not going to happen

                    I live medicated. It is part of my life. if i did not ride while medicated, I would never get to ride.