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When did you finally realize it was time to take it down a level?

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  • When did you finally realize it was time to take it down a level?

    I grew up riding hunters, jumpers and equitation. I love all three, but my heart always belonged in the hunter ring.

    My body has had it's fair share of injuries from wear & tear over the years, but the last freak accident (2013) has taken it's toll on me. It took years of OT/PT but I finally rode & jumped again and started riding young horses (another passion). Every so often I end up with flare ups from my Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (a chronic nerve condition). Along with that, I end up with horrific muscle spasms and contractions in my neck and right arm.

    This week, my neck down through T2 in my back locked up so tight I was bed ridden. The pain was so different and unbearable I did not even recognize it as muscular, I was worrying it was a slipped disc (luckily not).

    Anyway, day 4 of steroids, muscle relaxers, double doses of my magnesium, TENS unit snd stretches that make me want to cry and the talk happened. I'm still allowed to ride when I can, but it's time to be realistic and give up the dream of ever being in a hunter derby or jumping again. Switching to dressage was suggested.

    I tend to start the young ones in a dressage saddle, but I've never been a dressage rider. I admire the skill and technicality it takes. I don't own my own horse but my trainer lets me ride one of hers, who is truly one of the most magnificent animals I have ever sat on. I could never afford him so being given the opportunity to ride and eventually show him is a dream. I always hoped we would get to do a National Hunter Derby before the end of the season. Now this.

    Has anyone else been dealt this kind of blow, if so, how did you cope with it? I love flatwork so I'm suprisingly okay with it, it's just knowing I'll mever get the chance to accomplish that one dream on this amazing horse that has me so bummed.

  • #2
    I'm going through this right now-- back injuries have caught up with me and I had a flare that lasted a month. I'm coming back slowly but not sure I will ever sit the trot again, which means no showing. My trainer is helping me to reframe my competitive nature into...yes, I can still get on. My sympathies...I'm finding this really hard to accept and I'm sure you are, too.

    Comment


    • #3
      For me, it wasn't really black or white. I grew up jumping, but I partially switched to dressage when we opened our business to keep it easier (clients show jumping, I showed dressage and only occasionally jumping), but I still jumped quite often at home and started horses over fences. Then symptoms of my connective tissue disease started to impact my ability to jump and I cut back jumping more and more. Now I only jump if a client needs me to school their horse. It has been YEARS, but I still get frustrated and have moments where I think I can jump again. I MISS it.

      Dressage is ok, and I am quite enjoying western dressage, but I love training, and I miss starting horses over fences.

      Showing in general has become exhausting, so I find showing is getting less and less important to me, although I feel it is good for my horses to keep a resume going.

      I guess the point of my ramble is I haven't been able to give up. I still get the itch, and I still have moments when I think I can. Hopefully you can find a new horse passion that will be able help you commit to something easier on your body.
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

      Comment


      • #4
        Do something really different, like riding cutting horses (fun!) or learn to team pen or sort.

        Comment


        • #5
          I started riding hunters in grade school. Switched to dressage about 10 years later. Climbed levels thru fei.

          I had a freak accident over 5 years ago that lead to chronic pain, intense throbbing, nerve problems and more. That was the beginning of me starting to rethink things and is about when realized I am not indestructible. The injury was misdiagnosed....more than once (Despite MRI's, they didn't take xrays. Big oooops. I thought they knew what they were doing). I went over two years with the wrong diagnosis and treatment and PT that injured me more. By accident a random doctor diagnosed my injury and sent me to a specialist. From there it took over another year to finally get rid of the chronic pain and to be close to pain free.

          But about a year after the freak accident, I started having other health problems. The episodes came and went. I went to the ER. Saw specialists. No one could diagnose. I eventually suspected it was something, so had a doctor order some tests. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I wouldn't be surprised if the ongoing stress of a heavy work schedule, running a farm, competing too heavily, followed by a freak injury and having chronic pain for all of those years helped contribute to autoimmune issues. I feel that I have a solid handle on managing this problem now. Things have remained fairly stable for 10 months, but I am susceptible to getting sick easily by over doing it.

          For the last 5 years I've slowly, sadly, and painfully realized that I will eventually need to downsize. I cannot do the horse thing to the scale that I used to do. It's not only that I cannot, it's also that I don't want to. In the past I'd push myself beyond capacity many days in a row, suffer as a result, and think that that level of suffering was normal and acceptable. I now can see what happens to my body when I do too much physical activity. It rebels by either old injuries cropping up, autoimmune activity, increased inflammation or all three happening at once. When I do too much (so easy when you're a farm owner with a bunch of horses on your farm), it can set me back for days and I pay the price. I now understand that I should not keep damaging my body. So, I have slowed down.

          I haven't given up either. I just don't need to "do it all" and to the extreme like I used to. I can slow down, and that is ok. My point is that you have to listen to your body and what it is saying. Know your limits. Change disciplines or downsize if you need to. Do what's best for you and for the future of your health and comfort. Don't do too much now that could cause permanent damage that will effect you in later years.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm going thru this now. I'm 65 and have ridden and worked with horses all my life. I realized a while back that this is probably my last horse. I've been having so much discomfort in my groin and hip that I haven't been able to ride for a couple of months (really work a horse for longer). I'm afraid my mileage is catching up with me. Starting acupuncture this week after trying a lot other things. Have a girl coming to see about leasing my horse and my heart is breaking because I live where I do and still work a couple of days to support my horses. I can't ride. I'm hoping I can get some relief and start riding again soon. I have mine at home too and even barn chores take their toll......to paraphrase, "if I knew I would have horses this long I would have taken better care of myself".......
            Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

            Comment


            • #7
              Age has meant changes in my horse life - very upsetting to me - sharp learning curve ! IMHO
              Treat others the way you want others to treat you ~ on your threads !

              Comment


              • #8
                Multiple Sclerosis forced me to change big time. As I got more crippled and the pain of riding increased I was forced to essentially stop riding for years. I love training horses, well my lack of balance, coordination, and overwhelming fatigue ended all that.

                I finally found two sympathetic horse ladies. My riding teacher has been VERY patient with my total lack of progress, or rather she changed her (and my) definition of progress down to being able to ride at all. By constantly correcting my position she has gotten me back to being a decent rider--at a walk and a slow trot (I have not galloped for decades, and I miss it!)

                Now my forte is taking previously ruined horses, and using just the walk and slow trot I gently reschool them at one half hour a week. Amazingly I do make progress with the horses with my limited riding. Their muscles develop, their responsiveness to my aids develop, and both ladies I ride for say I improve the horses for other, more physically able riders.

                This does not replace my old dreams of riding cross country, I am limited to the ring now. Still I can do some training, the horses respond even though we move in slow motion, and the riding means that I can still walk on my own two feet.

                I had to redefine success and progress. It goes a LOT slower now. But I am still riding and I am still helping horses get back to usefulness. It could be a lot worse.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I rode from childhood into my late 20s, then work schedules and other commitments took me away from it for quite a long time. I was always just a casual rider, but could ride the challenging horses in challenging situations. It had a lot of influence on how I thought about myself.

                  In my 40s, I became a rerider. Unfortunately by then I had rheumatoid arthritis and some serious balance issues, along with a couple other autoimmune diseases. I was doing OK until I bought the wrong horse. After a couple of bad crashes, I tearfully gave up horses a year later. I was tired of going into the ER to hear a chorus of "sell that damned horse!" It wasn't his fault--it was certainly the wrong horse for me.

                  It was very painful to know I was just done with this part of my life. My husband realized how much I missed it, and proposed that we buy acreage and I get a pair of minis to drive. So we bought the land, and I signed up for driving lessons. I loved driving, and soon had my own driving pony (never did drive minis). He was quite a pistol (my trainer said a Hackney was NOT a good choice for a beginning driver), but what the hell. We had a lot of fun and he never killed me.

                  When my sweet Hackney was nearing retirement, I trained my daughter's pony to drive, and got a lot of good years with him as well. I just retired him last year, and now I am down to visiting him, grooming him, scratching his favorite spots. I'm grateful to still have that much. I am also grateful that I was able to move him halfway across the country when we moved, so he is still within easy distance.

                  It is heartbreaking to give up a dream, especially one that defines us. I also had to give up long distance bike rides, hiking, and now when I go to a museum, I explore it by wheelchair. That's a lot of losses, but I try very hard to focus on what I have, not what I don't have.

                  Driving certainly kept me in horses long past my expiration date. I would have preferred to ride, but I never became a lawn dart while driving. Then I gave up driving last year when I retired my pony. That one has been hard as well.

                  I think the key to living with these changes is in embracing the new activities to the greatest extent possible. Some days you backslide, but attitude really is the key.

                  Rebecca

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CHT View Post
                    For me, it wasn't really black or white. I grew up jumping, but I partially switched to dressage when we opened our business to keep it easier (clients show jumping, I showed dressage and only occasionally jumping), but I still jumped quite often at home and started horses over fences. Then symptoms of my connective tissue disease started to impact my ability to jump and I cut back jumping more and more. Now I only jump if a client needs me to school their horse. It has been YEARS, but I still get frustrated and have moments where I think I can jump again. I MISS it.

                    Dressage is ok, and I am quite enjoying western dressage, but I love training, and I miss starting horses over fences.

                    Showing in general has become exhausting, so I find showing is getting less and less important to me, although I feel it is good for my horses to keep a resume going.

                    I guess the point of my ramble is I haven't been able to give up. I still get the itch, and I still have moments when I think I can. Hopefully you can find a new horse passion that will be able help you commit to something easier on your body.
                    I don't think you may ever give jumpers off in your mind.

                    I have not been around any even English riding for decades now, but in my mind, I am a jumper first and that is what I love and would train for if I was where there were choices.
                    Any other is fine, really, horses are horses and is fun to train no matter what, but jumping for some, other for others, if that is your passion, I doubt we will ever give the thought that is who we are first.
                    That is ok, even if we don't do it any more or being realistic ever may again.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by anmoro View Post
                      I grew up riding hunters, jumpers and equitation. I love all three, but my heart always belonged in the hunter ring.

                      My body has had it's fair share of injuries from wear & tear over the years, but the last freak accident (2013) has taken it's toll on me. It took years of OT/PT but I finally rode & jumped again and started riding young horses (another passion). Every so often I end up with flare ups from my Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (a chronic nerve condition). Along with that, I end up with horrific muscle spasms and contractions in my neck and right arm.

                      This week, my neck down through T2 in my back locked up so tight I was bed ridden. The pain was so different and unbearable I did not even recognize it as muscular, I was worrying it was a slipped disc (luckily not).

                      Anyway, day 4 of steroids, muscle relaxers, double doses of my magnesium, TENS unit snd stretches that make me want to cry and the talk happened. I'm still allowed to ride when I can, but it's time to be realistic and give up the dream of ever being in a hunter derby or jumping again. Switching to dressage was suggested.

                      I tend to start the young ones in a dressage saddle, but I've never been a dressage rider. I admire the skill and technicality it takes. I don't own my own horse but my trainer lets me ride one of hers, who is truly one of the most magnificent animals I have ever sat on. I could never afford him so being given the opportunity to ride and eventually show him is a dream. I always hoped we would get to do a National Hunter Derby before the end of the season. Now this.

                      Has anyone else been dealt this kind of blow, if so, how did you cope with it? I love flatwork so I'm suprisingly okay with it, it's just knowing I'll mever get the chance to accomplish that one dream on this amazing horse that has me so bummed.
                      What makes you think Dressage is easier on the body?? It sure isn't, except maybe at training level. Yes, jumping you may have more chances of a fall if a horse stops, etc. But dressage, when taught correctly, is not easy at all.
                      I have been going through this, too......read my "ACDF post" Here. I am also a much older rider and have realized my body just will not do what it used to due to injuries and age, sigh!! Sure sucks!! I feel for you, if you need to chat just PM me.

                      Adriane
                      Adriane
                      Happily retired but used to be:
                      www.ParrotNutz.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I used to jump. I did not jump that well, because my undiagnosed MS had already wreaked havoc with my balance, coordination and strength. But I jumped up to 3'6" a good bit. I still miss it.

                        Every time I solve a problem with my riding, every time I improve, and basically every time I ride there is this little niggle in the back of my mind of "can I jump yet?" I have learned to ignore it.

                        Maybe someday.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jackie Cochran View Post
                          Multiple Sclerosis forced me to change big time. As I got more crippled and the pain of riding increased I was forced to essentially stop riding for years. I love training horses, well my lack of balance, coordination, and overwhelming fatigue ended all that.

                          I finally found two sympathetic horse ladies. My riding teacher has been VERY patient with my total lack of progress, or rather she changed her (and my) definition of progress down to being able to ride at all. By constantly correcting my position she has gotten me back to being a decent rider--at a walk and a slow trot (I have not galloped for decades, and I miss it!)

                          Now my forte is taking previously ruined horses, and using just the walk and slow trot I gently reschool them at one half hour a week. Amazingly I do make progress with the horses with my limited riding. Their muscles develop, their responsiveness to my aids develop, and both ladies I ride for say I improve the horses for other, more physically able riders.

                          This does not replace my old dreams of riding cross country, I am limited to the ring now. Still I can do some training, the horses respond even though we move in slow motion, and the riding means that I can still walk on my own two feet.

                          I had to redefine success and progress. It goes a LOT slower now. But I am still riding and I am still helping horses get back to usefulness. It could be a lot worse.
                          It is so true how fast some horses respond to just some gentle reschooling. I used to work at a camp. Although I tried to teach valuable lessons to the children the horses still took the brunt of their inexperience. I would hop on each of them periodically in a different saddle and a snaffle and just walk and trot with very light aids and theses hardened horses would stop bracing and round and stretch. I think it did them a world of good.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Parrotnutz View Post

                            What makes you think Dressage is easier on the body?? It sure isn't, except maybe at training level. Yes, jumping you may have more chances of a fall if a horse stops, etc. But dressage, when taught correctly, is not easy at all.
                            I have been going through this, too......read my "ACDF post" Here. I am also a much older rider and have realized my body just will not do what it used to due to injuries and age, sigh!! Sure sucks!! I feel for you, if you need to chat just PM me.

                            Adriane


                            IDK, I think dressage is much easier, if done correctly. I started in gaming, then to hunters from grade school thru high school, then dressage over 30 years. I started jumping again within the last 10. Just for fun and variety, not competitively. Body position and degree of bending the joints is completely different between jumping and dressage.

                            Dressage leg: very easy on the knees and hips, due to lack of bending of the joints
                            Dressage ankle: neutral and straight
                            Dressage neck: neutral (should not out in front, or be bobble head)
                            Dressage back: neutral spine, tall and erect. (sitting trot should not be jamming the back, but should be from hips following horse movement and from your core)
                            Dressage SI: straight below you, sitting on butt
                            Dressage hip: straight, barely any bend

                            Jumping leg: tough on knees due to very bent knee
                            Jumping ankle: ankle bent, heels jammed down, toes out
                            Jumping neck: bent back when looking up in 2 point or going over a jump
                            Jumping back: arched back from T1 to SI
                            Jumping SI: out behind you, pelvis arching back
                            Jumping hip: extremely bent, around 90 degrees of bend


                            As we age, wear and tear from repetition of activities from our younger years catches up with us, not matter what the riding discipline.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think it depends on your joints and conformation to be honest.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by roseymare View Post
                                I think it depends on your joints and conformation to be honest.
                                Exactly......and the horse you are sitting. Some horses are much easier to sit and others are big movers that no matter how much you follow they jar you......just ask my trainer who ride anywhere from 6 to 10 a day.
                                Let's all face it, riding, no matter the discipline, is hard and very humbling, lol.
                                Unfortunately, as the body ages or cumulative injuries get in the way, it does get harder.

                                Adriane
                                Adriane
                                Happily retired but used to be:
                                www.ParrotNutz.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The right horse helps, mentally sound and easier to sit. Horses are so very sensitive that a horse can be taught to be very light on the aids (should be). We all reach that crossroad of life, and our energy is not what it was once. Keeping on keeping on is the key, even if in a scaled down way....accept graciously!
                                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                                    I don't think you may ever give jumpers off in your mind.

                                    I have not been around any even English riding for decades now, but in my mind, I am a jumper first and that is what I love and would train for if I was where there were choices.
                                    Any other is fine, really, horses are horses and is fun to train no matter what, but jumping for some, other for others, if that is your passion, I doubt we will ever give the thought that is who we are first.
                                    That is ok, even if we don't do it any more or being realistic ever may again.
                                    my cow pony is just as sweet and honest over fences as a rider could ever hope for. She'll pick a good distance, and pack my hiney over the "huge" 2 foot logs in the pasture all day long, little ears just wiggling away like she does when she's proud of herself.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thank you all for sharing your stories. It helps knowing others are experiencing this as well, and there are people to turn to, when you need to talk about the pain, the frustration and the fears. I am incredibly lucky to have the trainer I do, she is not only a trainer, but also a friend so she will always be understanding of my physical limitations and never push me more than I can handle. Of course this dream horse I mentioned is truly amazing. We've played around with low level dressage (as much as I know as a hunter), and he enjoys it. He would love sorting or penning. Anything that stimulates his brain. Except....... he is 17h and my heavens chasing a cow in him could be intense. Lol. Anyway, even doing ground work with him is awesome. I've enjoyed that and thought about going that direction. It's so much to absorb mentally, especially when you are sitting in bed, in pain, barely able to move. All of you all have really made this much, much easier for me and I cannot thank you enough.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by anmoro View Post
                                        Thank you all for sharing your stories. It helps knowing others are experiencing this as well, and there are people to turn to, when you need to talk about the pain, the frustration and the fears. I am incredibly lucky to have the trainer I do, she is not only a trainer, but also a friend so she will always be understanding of my physical limitations and never push me more than I can handle. Of course this dream horse I mentioned is truly amazing. We've played around with low level dressage (as much as I know as a hunter), and he enjoys it. He would love sorting or penning. Anything that stimulates his brain. Except....... he is 17h and my heavens chasing a cow in him could be intense. Lol. Anyway, even doing ground work with him is awesome. I've enjoyed that and thought about going that direction. It's so much to absorb mentally, especially when you are sitting in bed, in pain, barely able to move. All of you all have really made this much, much easier for me and I cannot thank you enough.
                                        Any time you need an ear, PM me and we can exchange phone numbers, too if you want!
                                        I own a big horse also, but he has a great mind and doesn't need to work everyday, also does have a "go" button when asked. Like you, some days I just cannot get out of bed, but on days that I just feel crappy I do push and just get on and walk, reminding myself there are handicapped riding programs where walking on a horse helps physically and mentally and I do feel better. :-)
                                        Then there are days where I can accomplish it all! Its and up and down issues due to physical issues.
                                        Yes, you are def. not alone!

                                        Adriane
                                        Adriane
                                        Happily retired but used to be:
                                        www.ParrotNutz.com

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