Hi, new here - is anyone else older AND disabled?

Corey

New Member
Aug 29, 2021
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Hello. I'm an older rider (mid 50s) hoping to return to lessons and riding in October or November after several years. I lost my amazing heart horse and just haven't been able to be around them. But I'm also disabled and now I'm developing arthritis, and I feel like I'm running out of time if I ever want to get back in the saddle. I'm pretty frightened that when I finally try, I will find I can't do it any more.

I don't want to ask anyone to divulge health information they aren't comfortable with, but I would really appreciate hearing some success stories...I guess I just need some hope that it could go all right. Is anyone else struggling with age and physical disability, and can still ride? Am I holding out false hope to think I might be able to ride with arthritic knees? I just really need some realistic expectations, I suppose.

Thank you for any advice. I deeply appreciate it.
 
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Lollykay

Active Member
Feb 11, 2017
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Hello and welcome:)

1. You don’t say what the disability is and whether or not you have been able to do anything to keep up your muscle strength, which is also critical for arthritis.

1.1. I have a diagnosis of high Level II Spondylolisthesis. Recent x-rays are also showing osteoporosis and every day seems to bring a new spot of arthritis. I am so trashed from the neck to the tail bone, I am inoperable.

I have a new-to-me, great chiropractor who keeps me walking with nothing more than a cane. She is gobsmacked by the fact I can stand straight up, walk straight and also clean stalls plus care for two horses every day.

I am 74. She is also gobsmacked at the muscle tone I still have, which is due to doing my own barn chores and handling/brushing my horses every single day. Those horses are what gets me up and moving every day.

I haven’t ridden to really ride (I’m a slide down the river bank/dig up the other side trail rider) in years but that is because the one horse who is still rideable (he is 27) is an onery, drop his shoulder, dip/spin and give you nine cents change for a dime kinda guy. I just can’t hang with him anymore. My other horse is 26 and frought with health issues that make him not rideable for more than 10-15 minutes down the straight rail.

If my heart horse were still alive, if his life long bud were still alive, if Joker had not fractured his sacrum or foundered —- I would be riding.

2. I am saying all This to say:

2.1. You NEED to regain muscle strength if you have lost it, especially in your core and your lower back. Even if that means seeking help from a PT or a chiropractor.

2.2. Do NOT try to find your heart horse — he/she is not out there, no matter how much a horse might remind you. My heart horse was laid to rest on my farm in 2014 - I still miss that fella but I would never try to find “another one just like him” because he can’t be replicated.

2.3. My thought would be to make the acquaintance of a lesson barn with some great Master lesson horses. Find a horse like my unridable Joker who is so loving, so forgiving of human error and willing to please, it could be likened to Job in the Scriptures.

That is the kind of horse you need to re-start your riding on — no matter how homely the horse might be; more often than not it is those not-so-pretty faces that are the best and kindest horses on the planet:)

I hope this is helpful:)
 

Corey

New Member
Aug 29, 2021
13
16
3
@Lollykay

Thank you so much! This is exactly the sort of information I was hoping for. I know relationships from the ground are more important than riding, but I'm just not ready to say goodbye forever to even the thought of being on a horse again.

I didn't want to bore everyone with a page of text about my health issues, but boiled down I have constant pain and joints that want to subluxate with little to no provocation. (There's a host of other issues on top of that, but these are the crucial points that will interfere with riding.) I have started exercising to try to build up muscle and also endurance...I don't know how well it's going, but it's at least helping me lose a bit of weight, so that is good! I've spent quite a bit of time this week researching exercises that will assist specifically with riding and core strength, in fact. I know I have no chance of returning to the saddle if I sit back and do nothing. I know where that would lead and I want to fight it off for as long as possible. People like you are a role model in that respect. :)

As for finding a heart horse again...I realize there is not another mare out there like my Aziza. She was 110% personality! If I can find a horse half as amazing as she was, I'll be happy. I am trying very hard not to hope for the kind of relationship I had with her. It was unique in my horsey experience, lightning in a bottle. But a horse that just makes me happy to be around? I hope that can happen.

Thank you for the encouragement and advice. I am truly grateful.
 
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Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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Hello and welcome. I can't be much help on the physical side of things, but I know what it's like to lose your equine soulmate. I had mine for 26 years and lost a piece of my heart when he passed. I knew I'd never get another if I left it until after he'd gone, so I got my present one before I had to face the loss. I don't love him in the same way, but I love him just as much. He almost fills the hole left by my lovely old boy, and he is as different as he could possibly be. You will find one, and you'll get as much joy as you did your Aziza, just in a different way. Take your venture back to the horsey world at the pace you're happy with, no- one but you can decide what your limitations are. Good luck, let us know how you're getting on.
 

GaryB

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Mar 23, 2015
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Welcome! I expect you know already, but the RDA are a good resource who can help people enjoy their riding and know about a lot of ways to do it.
 
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Corey

New Member
Aug 29, 2021
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16
3
Hello and welcome. I can't be much help on the physical side of things, but I know what it's like to lose your equine soulmate. I had mine for 26 years and lost a piece of my heart when he passed. I knew I'd never get another if I left it until after he'd gone, so I got my present one before I had to face the loss. I don't love him in the same way, but I love him just as much. He almost fills the hole left by my lovely old boy, and he is as different as he could possibly be. You will find one, and you'll get as much joy as you did your Aziza, just in a different way. Take your venture back to the horsey world at the pace you're happy with, no- one but you can decide what your limitations are. Good luck, let us know how you're getting on.
Thank you! Not loving the same way but just as much...that's what I'm hoping for, at least. I don't want any new horse to suffer by comparison. That isn't fair to anyone.

Thanks for the encouragement. :)
 
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Corey

New Member
Aug 29, 2021
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Welcome! I expect you know already, but the RDA are a good resource who can help people enjoy their riding and know about a lot of ways to do it.
Thank you for the suggestion. I had not heard of the RDA...I'm in the US, but it seems they are part of an umbrella organization that has a branch here. I will investigate that. Thank you for pointing them out to me! I look forward to seeing what I can learn from them.
 

bel71

Trying to halt square after 20 years
Dec 12, 2008
164
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Entering at A
Corey, all the best to you.I’m on a similar age with a whole caboodle of physical issues. Blut I really want to hear about you.have you been able to get back to a lif including horses and riding? I hope so.
 
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Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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The RDA or its USA equivalent is the best place to start. But to progress and get individual help it is also great to have an RI trained in RDA, which is what we (OH and me) had in old age (over 60)

It is not welcome to say this on forums, but, although we oldies (over 80 now) walk a fair amount each day, we are by no means muscle toned and fit. It is riding that keeps me fit and keeps my weight under control. Being relaxed on a horse is far more important than being fit. One can think of horse riding as a sport and highly athletic. Or one can bear in mnd that horses were used for trasport and pack animals capable of carrying bales of wool are/were capable of carrying a very passive or fragile rider.

What you turn out to be able to do in the end will depend on your own judgement. Moderation is important. I could list the things I cant do on a horse and it may sound really bad. I dont ride without a bp. I dont jump. I dont canter on two consecutive days. I cant ride wide or flat backed horses or ponies. But put all the positives: given a suitable narrowish horse (my rides have all been Irish) I can hack very happilly alone or in company and ride a simple dressage test.

I sympathise with the loss of your favourite as I lost mine too. But over the last 20 years I have had 3 long term rides - all different. The current mare isnt a reincarnation of my Connnie heart horse, but she is by far the safest hack I have ever been offered. She is clever, She is observant. And I no longer fear for my life when I set out from the yard.

I was warned not to ride on account of my spine when I was in my 50s. But when I tried out riding, I found that rising in trot helped my back a good deal.

If you have athritic ankles you may not want to rise in trot or canter. There are people on this forum who avoid rising by riding Icelandic ponies in tolt. Western riding also avoids rising. Not all riding is the same and one needs to try different ways to find the one that suits one best.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Hi welcome to NR 🙂 I can’t give any personal help, but I know lots of people who have overcome serious disability to continue to ride, with determination and the right support anything is possible.

I hope an inspirational story here, he is to me. My friend (I knew him long before the accident) was crushed between 2 train cars in his early 50s, he spent 30 minutes stuck there before help arrived thinking he was dying, he called his wife to say his good byes. He lost both his legs and had a host of other injuries, but after 2 years of hard work he got back in the saddle, and despite constant pain and pretty serious limitations he will try anything, and over a decade later he’s achieved so much, I know he won’t mind me sharing this like to a newspaper article about him https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www....arity-despite-losing-legs-train-accident.html he’s quite incredible.
 

Corey

New Member
Aug 29, 2021
13
16
3
Corey, all the best to you.I’m on a similar age with a whole caboodle of physical issues. Blut I really want to hear about you.have you been able to get back to a lif including horses and riding? I hope so.
First of all, I apologize for my late reply. I've been going through a rough patch. That said-- thank you very much for your well wishes, and I'm sorry to hear you have similar problems. It's tough enough when there's one thing, but when they start to pile onto you, it gets exhausting quickly.

I have not ridden since my post, BUT I made an appointment for my first riding lesson in a long time! It's next week. I'm scared and excited at the same time. I'm really afraid that I'm in much worse condition than I'm hoping (that my knees have gotten bad enough that I can't ride or something like that), but if I can endure it at all, I intend to!
 
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Corey

New Member
Aug 29, 2021
13
16
3
The RDA or its USA equivalent is the best place to start. But to progress and get individual help it is also great to have an RI trained in RDA, which is what we (OH and me) had in old age (over 60)

It is not welcome to say this on forums, but, although we oldies (over 80 now) walk a fair amount each day, we are by no means muscle toned and fit. It is riding that keeps me fit and keeps my weight under control. Being relaxed on a horse is far more important than being fit. One can think of horse riding as a sport and highly athletic. Or one can bear in mnd that horses were used for trasport and pack animals capable of carrying bales of wool are/were capable of carrying a very passive or fragile rider.

What you turn out to be able to do in the end will depend on your own judgement. Moderation is important. I could list the things I cant do on a horse and it may sound really bad. I dont ride without a bp. I dont jump. I dont canter on two consecutive days. I cant ride wide or flat backed horses or ponies. But put all the positives: given a suitable narrowish horse (my rides have all been Irish) I can hack very happilly alone or in company and ride a simple dressage test.

I sympathise with the loss of your favourite as I lost mine too. But over the last 20 years I have had 3 long term rides - all different. The current mare isnt a reincarnation of my Connnie heart horse, but she is by far the safest hack I have ever been offered. She is clever, She is observant. And I no longer fear for my life when I set out from the yard.

I was warned not to ride on account of my spine when I was in my 50s. But when I tried out riding, I found that rising in trot helped my back a good deal.

If you have athritic ankles you may not want to rise in trot or canter. There are people on this forum who avoid rising by riding Icelandic ponies in tolt. Western riding also avoids rising. Not all riding is the same and one needs to try different ways to find the one that suits one best.
I'm sorry to have taken so long getting back to you! I've had a rough couple of months. Thank you for your patience, and also your reply. You make some excellent points! I have my first riding lesson in ages (and haven't taken that many in total, anyway) scheduled for next week! I've warned my instructor that I have a disability and briefly explained some of the things I'll have to consider, and she assured me none of them will be a problem. So I'll just need to self-assess from the inside at that point to see what I can still handle and what I just can't. I'm not looking forward to that part (I think my knees in particular are going to be a serious concern), but I still want to do it. It's that, or have to come to grips with the idea of never riding again...and that doesn't seem acceptable at this point.

I'm sorry about your heart horse, but your current ride sounds pretty wonderful. :)

Thank you for the advice about rising to the trot. My ankles are pretty reliable, but in the words of the last doctor who examined them, my knees are "falling apart." I have braces I wear on a pretty much daily basis, and they are thin enough that I'm hoping they won't interfere with my contact. Next week, I'll find out!
 

Corey

New Member
Aug 29, 2021
13
16
3
Hi welcome to NR 🙂 I can’t give any personal help, but I know lots of people who have overcome serious disability to continue to ride, with determination and the right support anything is possible.

I hope an inspirational story here, he is to me. My friend (I knew him long before the accident) was crushed between 2 train cars in his early 50s, he spent 30 minutes stuck there before help arrived thinking he was dying, he called his wife to say his good byes. He lost both his legs and had a host of other injuries, but after 2 years of hard work he got back in the saddle, and despite constant pain and pretty serious limitations he will try anything, and over a decade later he’s achieved so much, I know he won’t mind me sharing this like to a newspaper article about him https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www....arity-despite-losing-legs-train-accident.html he’s quite incredible.
Thank you for the welcome! I'm sorry it took me so long to reply. I've been having a rough time, health-wise. I feel bad that I received all these lovely replies and wasn't answering!

Thank you also for the encouragement, and for sharing your friend's story. There was a woman in another hobby of mine who lost a leg, and the first thing she asked when she woke after surgery was, "When can I start riding again?" I admire that kind of drive in people like her and your friend.
 
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diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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Hello. I'm an older rider (mid 50s) hoping to return to lessons and riding in October or November after several years. I lost my amazing heart horse and just haven't been able to be around them. But I'm also disabled and now I'm developing arthritis, and I feel like I'm running out of time if I ever want to get back in the saddle. I'm pretty frightened that when I finally try, I will find I can't do it any more.

I don't want to ask anyone to divulge health information they aren't comfortable with, but I would really appreciate hearing some success stories...I guess I just need some hope that it could go all right. Is anyone else struggling with age and physical disability, and can still ride? Am I holding out false hope to think I might be able to ride with arthritic knees? I just really need some realistic expectations, I suppose.

Thank you for any advice. I deeply appreciate it.
my knees are arthritic, ditto my spine, shoulders neck feet. I get on with a mounting block and to get off i keep my left foot in stirrup, bring right leg over take left foot out and slither to the ground in an undignified manner. I use very good stirrups which a wide and have a thick foam insert and they are very comfortable and keep my foot from slipping and also they are very wide and soft.

I also have a chiropractor who tweaks my back which is a wreck once a month. I have spells where i am worse than others, i.e. left knee is being an absolute pig at the moment, it has had previous surgery, but i find voltarol gel helps it. I don't take meds unless i am totally trashed.

I am a bit mad, i was back on board my horse a week after gallbladder surgery - surgeons only advice was don't fall off. Mind you he was a downhill skier and equally nuts.

Last year I backed my 15 year old mare myself, despite all my defects, so don't be put off. 20200627_100418.jpg
 

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Corey

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Aug 29, 2021
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my knees are arthritic, ditto my spine, shoulders neck feet. I get on with a mounting block and to get off i keep my left foot in stirrup, bring right leg over take left foot out and slither to the ground in an undignified manner. I use very good stirrups which a wide and have a thick foam insert and they are very comfortable and keep my foot from slipping and also they are very wide and soft.

I also have a chiropractor who tweaks my back which is a wreck once a month. I have spells where i am worse than others, i.e. left knee is being an absolute pig at the moment, it has had previous surgery, but i find voltarol gel helps it. I don't take meds unless i am totally trashed.

I am a bit mad, i was back on board my horse a week after gallbladder surgery - surgeons only advice was don't fall off. Mind you he was a downhill skier and equally nuts.

Last year I backed my 15 year old mare myself, despite all my defects, so don't be put off.

Ha, thank you for the encouragement! My hands are arthritic, but my problem with my other joints is a genetic disorder. I always use a mounting block and have been seeing more and more recommendations to always use one even if you're in great shape because it's easier on the horse's back. I'm all for something that makes my life AND the horse's life better! :)

Those stirrups are interesting. I will bring that up with my new instructor if it seems like they would help!
 

Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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Thank you for the welcome! I'm sorry it took me so long to reply. I've been having a rough time, health-wise. I feel bad that I received all these lovely replies and wasn't answering!

Thank you also for the encouragement, and for sharing your friend's story. There was a woman in another hobby of mine who lost a leg, and the first thing she asked when she woke after surgery was, "When can I start riding again?" I admire that kind of drive in people like her and your friend.
This sounds like an unbelievable story, but it's true, and first hand by yours truly. Years ago I took my boy to a rather posh venue, for a showjumping comp. We were TOTALLY outclassed, both on the horse side, and the vehicle.(I had a tatty single trailer, everyone else seemed to have gleaming massive lorries!) Amongst all the huge glossy 16 hh and over, I spotted another little forester, like mine, so made a beeline to where he was tethered. At the side of the trailer, I met his owner, a lady about my age, in a wheelchair. We had a lovely chat, and she pointed out that her pony only had one eye. Her husband helped her onto the saddle and off she went. Anyway, we got nowhere, but she got through to the jump off, but lost out on time.
 

Corey

New Member
Aug 29, 2021
13
16
3
This sounds like an unbelievable story, but it's true, and first hand by yours truly. Years ago I took my boy to a rather posh venue, for a showjumping comp. We were TOTALLY outclassed, both on the horse side, and the vehicle.(I had a tatty single trailer, everyone else seemed to have gleaming massive lorries!) Amongst all the huge glossy 16 hh and over, I spotted another little forester, like mine, so made a beeline to where he was tethered. At the side of the trailer, I met his owner, a lady about my age, in a wheelchair. We had a lovely chat, and she pointed out that her pony only had one eye. Her husband helped her onto the saddle and off she went. Anyway, we got nowhere, but she got through to the jump off, but lost out on time.

I can believe it. The right horse for that rider, the right rider for that horse...it's beautiful, and I absolutely believe it. :)
 
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