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Riding with Osteoporosis?

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  • Riding with Osteoporosis?

    Anyone here that has been diagnosed with Osteoporosis and still ride?
    How about jumping?
    I've just gotten the bad news and am trying to figure out how much this is going to affect my riding.

  • #2
    Yes, but....

    I too have recently been diagnosed with Osteoporosis. It is H""" getting old, but my doctor said riding was ok, "just don't fall off." Not sure she fully understands that risk goes with the turf no matter how good, experienced the rider and horse are, but she knows horses are an important part of my life. I am doing flat work on the safest horse I know. Not sure about jumping yet, but that will be later and low if at all. I am on medication and want to give that time to work. Ask your doctor because there are varying degrees of this condition, some more serious than others.

    Thanks for raising this. Will be interested in what others have to say. And good luck.


    • Original Poster

      My doctor essentially said the same thing - I'm a higher risk for breaking something than a normal person would be - so don't fall off.
      I'm wondering how to find a doctor that is more familiar with riding/jumping to give me a bit better idea of exactly what my limits are. My horse is a good steady guy - but his jump is really powerful and he jumps hard over even small fences.

      Haven't started medication yet, but have been told it's definitely something I should look into. Can't remember the t scores, but apparently it's not severe yet. Still, something to be concerned about and it looks like it is going to affect my riding. Just not sure how much yet.

      Good luck to you also and happy riding.


      • #4
        Like one in four adults, I have osteoporosis, and have had it for several years.
        My daughters also have osteopaeni too, at 27 and 32 years old.

        If we had known then abut bone scans, I probably had it in my twenties, also - just that not many people get diagnosed that young.

        We have a better diet from a young age, more calcium, milk, veggies, etc.
        Sports is also very important, walking, tennis, etc. I go to an Osteo-Fit class twice a week. It is range of motion, stretching, balance, abs, etc. Nothing terribly dramatic but I like it.

        I have tried Fosamax (nearly killed mw with indigestion0, Didrical, (My bone density numbers went down again) and now I am on Actonel, (the more expensive one).

        I still plan to ride into my dotage. Trick is to find the right horse. I'm not so keen on the youngies any more, the hunt might be a bit much, and jumping is fine if you keep it up and know your horse (I don't mean GP here!)

        What I think I am saying is, keep on going and going and going, or else you end up going the other way fast. Obviously, common sense and a conservative approach to horses is ssmart.

        What else could one do - hide and do nothing that's fun to us?
        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


        • #5
          One thing to note is that osteoporosis can cause some disturbance to your balance so take care to do balancing exercises.

          It's a personal decision on how much or little you want to limit your riding.


          • Original Poster

            I agree that continuing to stay active is important - I'm just trying to evaluate what is an appropriate amount of "risk" - and balance that with my wish to continue to ride competitively.
            Until December I was showing in the adult jumper division (3'-3" to 3'7") when my leg broke while I was landing from a jump. Not the first broken bone I've had - but the first that I've gotten that wasn't related to a fall. Initially, ortho doc was saying it was probably just a "freak" accident - now, I'm not so sure.

            Sounds as though you have tried several medications. Have they actually reversed the loss of density/made your bones more dense or just kept you from getting worse?


            • #7
              Hmmm...legs don't just break...sorry to hear that - not good at all. One day on the hunt my horse got down to roll. It was Spring and I guess her coat was itchy. I rolled off her on to my side when she was down and broke three ribs from what was very much a non-fall. The doctor said it was probably how I landed with my elbow at my side, but it was the osteo, I am sure. Since then I've broken three more (car accident), a broken sternum (horse with no manners pushed me to the wall), and a chiro adjustment broke another...

              Re the bone scans: I have had five in all. First three showed worsening,
              fourth one went up a bit (I hoped it was the Actonel), and fifth one (recently) showed a further 6% minus.
              Sometimes I wonder if the calibrations or technicians don't cause a variance.
              Don't know. It is something to be taken seriously with lifestyle changes, but we can't change what we grew up with.
              I'm riding a young horse right now (a 7 y.o homebred, but she is l7.00 hh) and while she is a good girl, is very powerful. I wish I had a small TW! I only jump the odd log now but mainly because I didn't keep up the jumping and seem to have lost desire (otherwise known as guts?)

              It is just that I'm not about to give in. I don't expect to ride like I used to, but the horses are my life and what get me up in the morning. There may come a day when I feel just too brittle, but I hope I am a long way from that yet.
              When you feel great it is tough to think of breaking.
              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


              • Original Poster

                Coyoteco, I didn't know that about osteo affecting balance...good to know.

                Foxtrots - I have been wondering if medication can actually reverse bone loss (as some of them claim) or if they are more likely to maintain or slow it.
                Sounds like it may vary.
                My horse is also a big one...17.2 - but the most dependable, level headed horse I've ever had. Jumps what he is pointed at, non-spooky and has great ground manners. So, although his jump is not "older ammie friendly" the rest of his behaviour certainly is.
                I definitely plan on continuing to ride for however long I can...hoping that is far into the future!

                If anyone else has any information/tips to pass on - I'd appreciate it.


                • #9
                  As a doctor who diagnoses and treats osteoporosis, and as a rider who jumps and shows, I would recommend continuing riding but trying to reduce the risk from falls. Anybody can fall hard enough and break a bone, but a fall from a horse can icnrease the risk of a fracture, and that risk is increased in someone with lower bone mass.

                  Increase in weight bearing activities such as walking can increase bone mass and muscle strength, which can then help reduce fracture risk. Riding does not really count as an exercise to increase bone mass as it is not weight bearing, but good for muscle strengthening and balance. I would recommend taking steps to reduce your fall risk during riding, whether than means riding horses less likely to spook, buck, rear, safter over fences, etc. Other activities around the barn, whether it is picking up heavy buckets, bales of hay, or just a fall can also cause fractures in those with very low bone mass. It really depends on your T scores and changes over time in your bone density scan, as well as other risk factors including family history, medications, prior fractures, smoking, body size to determine your individual fracture risk.

                  I would disagree with the statement that osteoporosis affects balance. The link is likely more due to age related changes in balance than the bone properties.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for the info. I've got an appointment with my GP to discuss the results more fully.
                    Wish I could find a doctor who rides.


                    • #11
                      I agree with Doc Trina above : I do have loss of balance, but it is more due to getting older than the osteo. But classes make us more conscious of where we put our feet and to be more cautious.

                      My Mom and Grandma were the same - but I hope it is true that it is treatable and that my girls do as much as they can to avoid it. We will see forty years from now.

                      Where I think riding helps is not that it is weight bearing, but it strengthens the muscles around the bones. I like the feeling of keeping my back supple from the horse movements - and all the barn chores that go along with it.

                      For myself, I need to get even more calcium into me.

                      I think you need to know how far away from normal you are on your scores.
                      I'm not planning to fall off any more - but with riding there is no guarantee.
                      Good luck and ride conservatively.
                      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                      • Original Poster

                        Well, my mom has great bones and she's 76. In my case, I don't think this is hereditary.
                        I've always been in shape and exercise regularly as well as having a pretty decent diet from a nutritional standpoint. The few things that "may" have led to bone loss are things that are pretty much out of my control....small frame/bones and treatment for cancer (8 years ago) that involved radiation and chemo.

                        My t scores are -2.5/-2.6 in my hips and -2.8 in my spine, which from what I can tell is not extreme, but certainly cause for concern - and caution. Especially in light of the pretty major fracture of my leg without any other apparent reason. Although the ortho surgeon who put in the plate and screws said the condition of the bone appeared to be fine.

                        I'm definitely going to pay more attention to my diet as well as adding more "weight bearing" exercises to my routine and will see what's recommended re: medication.
                        And, I guess I'll just see how it goes re: jumping. I'm hoping that at least being able to do the AA hunters is going to be ok. At the moment I'm just looking forward to being able to get on my horse and just walk around.


                        • #13
                          Arh! I thought I wouldnt have to face this until I was really old (the definition of which keeps changing to a higher number over the years...)
                          Anyway, at 55 I have just been diagnosed despite exercise and calcium supplements. Another loss in the family genetic lottery - mom had it and older sister has it.
                          Is anyone on the injectable medicine? I have gastritis and erosive esophagitis so the GI affects of the medications scare me.
                          Fortunately my horse is mostly good and I know him well enough to know when I need to let him blow off steam without me on him. So my main fears are the odd, can-happen-to-anyone accidents. Still, I intend to continue riding and I will likely take the dont-ask-dont-tell approach with my nonhorsey doctor.


                          • #14
                            Well, ladies - we will all just have to hang in there and use our heads and common sense. Ride conservatively and hope you have a trustworthy horse. Ask about the different medications. Fosamex nearly killed me with heartburn, but I don't notice any side effects from once a month for two consecutive days Actonel. My own horse is seven years old, l7 hh and can get a bit panicy. She mostly holds her ground and is getting to use her head more, but honestly, I could do with a more Steady Eddie type.
                            Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                            • #15
                              Well Said

                              I was concerned about the biphosphate family side effects and asked my doctor if I could try Evista, which works differently. It is estrogen-related, but is NOT hormone therapy and does not have the side effects of that. It is at least another option you might wish to research and discuss with your doctor. So far, so good in terms of side effects, but I won't know about treating my osteoporosis until I get another scan. Fortunately, I have access to a sweet draft cross foxhunter who is just perfect for tooling around. He's pretty close to the ground too!


                              • #16
                                Great Thread

                                I am in my mid-50s and have recently been diagnosed with osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis). And that has made me more concerned about falling off my horse. She's basically a good girl, but can pull a nasty spin and bolt out of her repertoire on occasion (she's a quarter horse). She got me off about a month ago because of it. Nothing broke, but boy was I sore. Then just last week, I was helping a friend bring in her horses, and as I was grabbing for the leadshank, the horse I was handling spun around and knocked me hard to the ground. More pain--but nothing broken (fortunately). One of these days, I'm thinking my luck will run out. I have gotten more nervous about riding my horse (she is 7) and have also wondered whether I need a more steady eddy type as well. Of course, it becomes a vicious cycle, because I know my mare goes better with a confident ride, but my confidence pills seem to be losing their efficacy with each passing year .


                                • #17
                                  Has anyone tried the padded underwear that is supposed to protect your hips if you fall? It may not be designed to withstand a fall off a horse, but it may be better than curtailing your riding. Here's a link to one of them.


                                  My bone scan is currently ok, but osteoporosis is a concern since I'm getting older. Due for another bone scan this year, and then we'll see if I have to go back on meds.
                                  It's 2017. Do you know where your old horse is?

                                  www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    were you previously on medication and then got off because your density improved?
                                    I'm curious about how much the different medications can improve density - or whether it normally just helps you keep from losing more.


                                    • #19
                                      Yes. On Actonel for maybe a year, and then Fosamax (sp?) for a year, and then had follow up density test which showed enough improvement to go off meds.
                                      It's 2017. Do you know where your old horse is?

                                      www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


                                      • #20
                                        Pony - that is super good news and very encouraging for the others. We just have to push the calcium,magnesium, Vitamin d and nutrition/exercise.

                                        My friend was on Evista and she had improvements, too, but I was not advised to go on it. They work differently, one is a hormone. I was on HRT for many years and then they decided that was not the way to go either.....sigh.

                                        There is an Osteoporosis Society. I do not belong, but members of my Osteo-fit class do, so we discuss the newsletters.

                                        Trot on everybody!
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique