Fibromyalgia and Horseback Riding

I returned to horseback riding 4 years ago never realizing the impact it would have on my life.  After several accidents, there were 18 years of doctors, physical therapy and medications.  Frustration was constant as was pain.  It took the medical field several years to realize the pain not only stemmed from the injuries; but, also, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Chronic Tendonitis.  During that period, it never occurred to me that life would change.  That is, until the day my husband convinced me to take a trail ride.  I hadn’t ridden a horse since before the first accident and was positive I would never ride again.  Thankfully, his persuasion was stronger than my argument against it and I did take that ride.  It was a long walk on a draft horse; but it proved to change my life.  I soon began to research trail riding stables, then lesson barns and leasing.  Once I started riding regularly, something was different.  I began taking very long lessons and with much movement, I gradually realized a difference in how I felt.  After six months of riding at least four hours a week – my pain level decreased dramatically.  At first, because it was gradual, I didn’t realize the connection.  When I began to volunteer at Manes and Motions in Middletown, a Therapy barn, I witnessed amazing results for people with disabilities and realized why I was feeling so much better.  It was something about riding a horse.  It was awesome.

Two years ago, the barn I used for lessons and leasing closed.  Within two months the pain level began to rise again.  My balance problems followed.  To say the least, I was desperate. Unfortunately we received large amounts of snow the first winter so it was more difficult to find a barn for lessons.  Some might say I should have taken anything I could find.  Unfortunately, I ride western and in CT there is an abundance of English, Dressage, youth and show barns.  I could have started my own website on stables in Connecticut after researching my area and beyond.

Spring finally arrived and though friends gave me tips on barns, none of them worked out.  But I did learn about UCONN and it’s riding program.  I began trail riding twice a week, even though it was almost an hour away.  I am hoping, by the end, I will find a permanent place to ride once again.

5 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia and Horseback Riding

  • Hello I found your post through google and I have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and told to exercise as treatment. I had been in the process of finding a horse to part board and ride twice a week but after two rides have been having trouble with the inevitable back pain that comes with relearning to ride. I was wondering if you have any tips or back braces or wraps that you may have tried that might help me out.

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    • Yvonne, Do you ride western or english? I have learned saddles are very important and also length of stirrups. When I went back to riding it was with full lessons (over an hour) each week. Then added leasing a few months into the lessons. In the beginning, I really didn’t have added pain – just the pain I had normally, day to day. At the time, I used Lidoderm Patches quite a bit and my usual pain medications. As noted in the article, after a few months ALL of the pain was gone and I was off all medications including the patches. I never had back pain when I initially returned to riding. As far as braces or wraps, I have an abundance of them; as well as ice and heat packs. Also, 2 TENS units. I did use the TENS unit when I began riding. This Spring I returned to lessons which were one hour or less, once a week. Strangely, the pain level that had risen during the year inbetween lessons – hadn’t decreased as I believed it would. Possibly because I wasn’t riding as much as before. I am not sure if anything I’ve said will help. Please let me know.

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  • I also found this through google, I’d never ridden a horse before until yesterday and I have to say mentally I feel great but my back legs and buttocks are in agony I’m worried in the long run if it will aggravate my fibro in the long run? Would love to try again but don’t want to make things worse then they are, I was using a western saddle 🙂

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    • If you have never ridden before, back of legs, etc. are usually sore. it takes time and regular riding for it to go away. I just want to make it clear, for me, after years of pain, the riding was the only activity helping me 100%. It may not be true for other people. But they use therapy barns for disabled children and adults and I have seen remarkable improvement in many people with serious illnesses and injuries.

      I never thought I would ride again, after becoming injured and developing Fibromyalgia. I ride western but do not think it matters which you prefer.

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  • I have fibromyalgia. I love horses. I’ve only ridden a few times.
    We are moving to a new home with 36 acres. With a barn. 4 stalls. All ready for horses. Fibromyalgia has kept me from ever thinking of riding. Reading your posts has made me want to take lessons. Possibly put a Mare in that barn if I feel good.

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