Avatar universal

OT - I didn't know I had THIS in me!

I used to ride horses all the time. I had an A-grade showjumper when I was younger, and competed in cross-country insanity as well. (Galloping wildly down hills and jumping over jumps that are 'fixed', ie: if you hit 'em it's going to hurt)

It all slowed down when I had the kids of course, Horses are very expensive.

I haven't ridden now for a decade.

Well yesterday my dr read the letter he received from the neuro saying both my legs are failing (I thought it was just the left one, but no)

So I woke up kind of cranky, and though, **** you , MS, I AM GOING RIDING.

I just booked a half hour private lesson (I figure after ten years I'll need reminding :P) at a riding school . On a quiet pony.

In my entire life I have NEVER felt so determined to do something, I am shocked at myself. I keep thinking, how DARE you (MS) take this from me!! Well it might win eventually, but, by CRIKEY (oh there's that Australian bit of me) it's not going to stop me just yet!!!

I think it's ironic that when I was ok, it didn't bother me, I guess because I ahd a choice, but now this choice is potentially been removed from me, it has changed my attitude.

I am in shock. WOW for me! I didn't know I had it in me!
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1995013 tn?1327104134
I just read your post and so get it!! I too grew up riding jumpers and backed down after three kids.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer and knew I had to start again for my emotional health.  Then 2 years later diagnosed with neuromyotonia.  I am only 40, with a 2 year diagnosis now, but kept on riding.  It has been such a roller coaster understanding my "new" body and all of the frustrations.  I had to leave the jumper ring for the hunter ring to be safer, but am now finding that so much more difficult since I cannot relax my stiff legs, that just fire up the horses!  Fortunately, I have an amazing trainer, who gets it and is my common sense.  I know the frustration of having a deteriorating body, but stay with it!  The benefits of that great ride are so worth it!!!!
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Avatar universal
I had to cancel because i have had another relapse and have been flat out standing up and awake........will re-book when I feel better. If I ever feel better. This seems to be never-ending.

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1323278 tn?1298122488
We are all proud of you! Let us know how it went!!!
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867582 tn?1311627397
Hey!  How was your horseback riding?  I couldn't find any post from you about it and I was so looking forward to hearing all about it.  

I was taught to ride by gripping strongly with my legs - especially bareback!!   I remember once in New Jersey going to get my horse who was in a distant pasture - I had taken only a halter for her - not a bridle - and was planning to ride her bareback to the barn - big mistake!!  I got on her bareback with just the halter on her and she, being a frisky 3-and-a-half-year-old - took off at top speed, jumping over anything (like logs) in the way, bucking and kicking her back legs out joyfully.  She thought she was heading for the barn - and dinner (grain).  I was hanging on for dear life!

So let me hear about your riding experience!!  That's something I'm thinking more and more of doing myself - weak legs or not!!

Let us hear how it went!!


P.S.  Regarding your mum's comment about "pony behavior," I always thought riding a pony would be a piece of cake - but I was actually bucked off a particularly ornery pony once as a teen.  Humiliating!!
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198419 tn?1360242356
Atta girl!!!!!!!!!!

Happy for You! Proud of You!

It's a good feeling to give MS the ol f word once in awhile (hope I don't offend w/that) and just go for it!

Smiling ear to ear reading your post and all the responses. Inspirational indeed!


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1253197 tn?1331209110
Just one word to sum up your achievement "INSPIRATIONAL". It does us all so much good to read great stories like this one and you can feel a ripple of excitement from many people, and in particular horse lovers. So Jemm carry on and enjoy your riding and keep us all posted how you get on.

Love and big hugs to a very courageous woman.

From an equally deranged Mum of 3, aged 47!

Sarah xxx :)
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Avatar universal
Tuesday, 12 noon ! So.....39 hours and 20 minutes from now :P.....I'll let you know how I go!

Oh, my mother already said, "No Pony Club behaviour, dear. You're not 15 now!"
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Avatar universal
I love your descriptions they have made me laugh, I think just shortly before I got bucked off I was doing the Jesus things, I don't recommend riding bareback or doing balance things if your balance is impaired due to MS, (the ground is so much harder when you are older).  Hey how long before you go, have you been yet.

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Avatar universal
Yeah......I was thinking as well, I don't recall having to hang on with my thighs unless whatever horse I was riding decided it was time for a good old buck or ten........then some gripping thighs can come in very handy!

I remember having some lessons as an adult after a break of about 5 years, and the emphasis being on loose hips, letting your backside move with the movement of the horse, hanging loose, "doing a madonna", the instructor said.

Free movement of the hips -  as the horse's off fore (right front) leg goes forward, so does your right hip. left leg, left hip....etc

I also did so much work with no stirrups or reins at Pony Club as a teen that my balance was great........it's all about your "seat"......we used to do exercises over cavalettis -


for the purpose of improving our seat (balance).....  they would setup maybe 6 cavalettis, and we'd trot over them with arms spread like Jesus on the cross.........or with no stirrups. I think sometimes with arms out  AND no stirrups........it worked, but of course many kids took a tumble if their seats weren't so good or their horses weren't so nice........LOL......lucky for me, mine was nice!

Best thing I always found for learning to stay on in a relaxed and loose way is riding bareback.
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667078 tn?1316000935
My legs are not weak. I have numbness and they spasm but my legs are not weak. I have also been walking in and out of the pool and I do a lot of yard work. I have great all over muscle tone. I am a very healthy person for having MS for so long. My Doctors think I am 15 years younger then I am.

I am learning a new style of riding things have changed since I was a kid. Back then you were told to get your heels down and grip with your legs. Now it it is all about being loose and relaxed. Moving relaxed with the horse. Your legs is loose as is your back. There is minimal pressure in the stirrup.

Last time I rode both hip flexors spasmed as soon as I got on. Later I had back spasms. I knew It would pass so I just waited. Posting at the trot was hard at first. I ride for over an hour and it is not easy but I do it. It makes me so happy.

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867582 tn?1311627397
Question:  How do you stay in the saddle while on horseback if your legs are weak?  When I used to ride, I would grip with my legs, but not sure I could do that effectively now. Did you have a problem with gripping with your legs?

If you enjoyed hot-air ballooning, then I suggest you also try para-sailing when you get over to a beach.  I did para-sailing years ago while in the Bahamas and it was truly exhilarating!!!  They put you in a harness with a line going to a motorboat.  All you have to do is just stand up and watch the slack in the line being taken up as the motorboat speeds away.  Then you brace yourself, because you think you're going to be jerked up, but guess what, that jerking episode doesn't necessarily happen (at least it didn't for me). I just very smoothly shot straight up into the ethereal heights, above the birds, way up there so that the boat looked really tiny and the floating dock from which I had taken off was near-microscopic.  It was totally quiet up there!  Any higher and I'd have been at the pearly gates!  For a beautiful thrill, I strongly suggest you try para-sailing!!

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Avatar universal
Wow.... this just brings so many tears to my eyes......I have always loved horses so much, and to know that they give so much pleasure to so many people just makes them even more special for me.

I know a lot of people who have not had anything to do with them think of them as they do other large animals, like cows etc, but they are so much more than that ! Well, to me anyway.

It will be tricky at first and I will have to see my limits. The horse I had pre-kids was a brilliant show jumper. I had him when we lived in NZ in the late 70s. I had to sell him when we returned to Aus. He went on to be the North Island champion 2 years running. He died in 2002, aged 32. I cried for weeks......

He carried me over jumps that were taller than me (not THAT high - I am 5 foor 2) without a worry in the world. It was  more a case of stopping him jumping everything in sight than anything.

Anyway, I live in hope of being able to jump again, just for fun, and just to know I've "still got it" (whatever 'it' is - I presume nerve and ability).

I don't know which specific arreas of my legs have lost strength (how can you tell?) - but if it's only the lower leg that'll be ok, they don't have to grip anything to stay on. If it's thighs that could become an issue down the track. I am really looking forward to see how my balance is atop a horse. At Pony Club when I was a kid so much time was spent on balance,: riding without reins and stirrups, arms spread like jesus on the cross, trotting over poles etc, to make sure our "seat" was good and we could stay on withough the security of reins and stirrups.

Mine was always fine. Like HVAC, I used to bolt around bareback on my horse, jumping fences and gates like a lunatic. Those were the days!!

I'll keep you all posted, and I'll try and get some photos .

I am  also looking forward to that devine horsey smell on my hands.........ahhhhhhh!!

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1312898 tn?1314568133

I love it, I didn't realize that you rode hunter/jumper and cross country.  That is serious stuff.  I rode competivley too.  

I rode western though showing pleasure, equitation, bareback eq. etc.  I had an appaloosa gelding, a quarterhorse mare, and morgan gelding.  I was more of a rodeo girl though, doing the rodeo Queen thing.    

Later I rode saddleseat on a saddlebred of course.

I think it is so cool you are doing this.  Can you still use your knees against the saddle and post.  Just the feeling of the rocking of the horse and the wonderful smell.  Revel in the power and majesty of the horse.  Take in like never before girlfriend, and never let anyone tell you cant do anything.  

Later, we can drive some trotters!!!

I am doing the happy dance for you!!!

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Avatar universal
Hi Jemm,

I have TM and I horse ride, it keeps me fit, I have found that my fitness level etc. has improved, the key is not to over do anything.  I find if I spend too much time in the saddle I end up paying for it for days (then it worsens my symptoms), but I am building up my fitness levels.  Thirty minutes is plenty long enough and it depends on what you do, if you are having a gentle walk it is not so hard but you will still be sore if you haven't ridden for a while.

I am with Laura, riding is great for balance, fitness, strength building etc. as you use all the muscle groups, but anything that you enjoy if you can still participate even at a smaller level it has to be good for your esteem and your well being.  I just get a natural high at being around my horses, I have had times when I am not so confident about riding, at the moment vertigo seems to be posing a few issues but then I just go and brush them etc. even this is good therapy.

I have a friend who is amazing, she has MS and has ridden with her MS up until just recently, but has now had to go into a wheelchair, she has no strength at all in her legs and little in her arms these days but she still manages to do her hobby in a different way with the horses, she instructs at our local adult riding club and she is performing with her horses at Equitana in Melb. in November. At the moment people are raising funds for her to buy a wheelchair that will go X country in her paddocks so she can still care for her horses herself, as her old one won't do this ($20,000) for the chair. So not cheap.

This lady inspires me, she does not believe in the word can't, she has ridden for years with no strength in her legs, people put her up on the horse, but I do admit she had ridden all her life.  I have balance issues too, so my neurologist told me I prob shouldn't jump as he said it would prob be dangerous for me!!

I hope you enjoy your ride, just take it easy, as if you do over do it you might find then you will have difficulty, if I go to adult riding for the day I come home and have to rest for the next week it knocks me about that much..

I am so pleased for you, sorry this is so long, but riding is my passion and horses and I too often worry about what if I can't ride, but I can at the moment so that is what I will do and should that change I will find another way just to be around my horses.

Give us an update, being newly diagnosed you have so much to deal with, thinking of you,
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667078 tn?1316000935
Good for You!

The first thing I did when I was diagnosed was ride in a hot air balloon. It was hard because you have to climb in the basket as it is ascending. The funny thing was my husband admitted he was scared to death. I loved it! Then we camped, hiked, horse back rode.

A few weeks ago I started Dressage lessons. I am having a blast. My sister always got the fancy riding and I got to to ride when she was bored with borrowed equipment.

I started riding my friends horse bareback a while back. It was a hoot watching me jump from hay bails to horse's back. The horse had not been ridden in years. She reared and bucked but I was fine. My friend was so afraid I would fall off. I looked at her and thought do you know how many times I have fallen off a horse?

My Dressage couch says she can't tell the difference between me and her other riders. She says my balance is excellence. I ride for over an hour then help at the barn.

I have a lesson tomorrow. It is the highlight of my week. I do not care how hot it is except for the horse's sake.

I even rode with poison Ivy blisters popping up all over.

My husband likes my new english riding gear which is also a plus.

I am thinking of rope tree climbing next. My tree trimmer does it for fun. I have permanent vertigo, double vision, and can't feel my legs.

A glider is in my future. The balloon was so awesome.

Our MS group, people in all degrees of disability, are doing water aerobics with an instructor who has MS.

Another friend does kick boxing when its cooler.

I will figure out new adventures no matter what my body does.


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572651 tn?1530999357
I kind of like the aquatherapy idea of riding a hippo, but they are incredibly fast and can hold their breath underwater much longer than I can. I would definitely need special equipment for that activity.

hang on, this is all a fun ride!


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147426 tn?1317265632
Jemm - I am so pleased at the victory for you.  So pleased.  

WAF I'm sure there is saome contraption to keep you upright and on the horse.  After all they did it with El Cid at the end of the movie.  Of course, he was dead...
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147426 tn?1317265632
I don't want to ride a hippo.
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Avatar universal


*big smile*

I just rang my cousins in Queensland. We are all horse nuts - it's genetic. Our grandfather was a thoroughbred trainer, then their father took over the training; one of my cousins had her own riding school until parkinsons got her, and my other cousin only stopped showing her horses last year when bowel cancer got her (she's beaitng that so far).

I told them and we googled down the phone about "hippotherapy", and my cousin with parkinsons says even on the odd occasion now when she hops on one of the ponies in her back paddock, she walks better afterwards.

We always loved horses with great passion, and now it has been reinforced even more! I cannot think of another large animal that has given so much to mankind over millenia!

*hugs back at ya!*
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867582 tn?1311627397
I inspired you to to this???  Thank you for telling me that!!  I had been feeling down and that made my night!  Hope it works out well for you!!

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572651 tn?1530999357
Listen up all you horse lovers - stop wishing and get out there.  

Hippotherapy (horseback riding) is known to be an excellent therapy for MS patients.  In fact, many NMSS chapters sponsor classes or offer subsidies for the cost of hippotherapy.

The rythmic movement of the horse is similar to the movement we make when walking - it strengthens our spine and other muscles and bones.

If you want more information, let me know and I'll go googling for you.  

JemmAus - I am so proud of you.  There's no sense in sitting around and surrendering.  I'm not going down that easy and neither will you!

hugs, Lulu

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645800 tn?1466860955
Great going! I am also a  horse lover, had 3 horses of my own 20 years ago. Even though I have room for horses at my home ( 10 acres) I just don't feel like I would be able to take care of them myself. So instead of horses I took up kayaking a few years ago.  For that it is mostly arm work so I feel more confident with it. Unfortunately it has been just too HOT this year so far for me to do any kayaking. :(

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Avatar universal
Oh, my daughter just asked, why is it considered beneficial? Is it the leg muscles used? or the balance?

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Avatar universal
You know WAF, it was YOU that helped me. Your Oregon holiday/vacation got me thinking....


I will think of you when in the saddle.
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