Rheumatoid Arthritis and Horse Riding

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Horse Riding

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Horse Riding

When you have a disease that affects your joints, it is important to keep the joints gently exercised to reduce inflammation and pain, and to also prolong the useful life of the joint.  Use it or lose it is a popular phrase that can apply to so many things, but especially your body.

It is difficult to find a balance though.  Push yourself too hard and you can cause more damage, or do nothing and you will gradually cease up.  One exercise that is often overlooked is horse riding.  When riding a horse in walk, the movement in your body actually mimics the movements your body would make if it was really walking, without the added pressure.  Horse riding is used as a remedial aid for disabled people, but can also be useful for those of you out there with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Now I am lucky as I have a horse at home.  I have invested in stirrups that absorb some of the movement of the horse, so reducing the impact on my joints, and a saddle that is soft to sit in, again absorbing some of the movement so my joints don't have to.  I also have reins with special grips as sometimes my hands don't work as well as they should. Sometimes, when I'm really in pain, the thought of riding fills me with dread.  But, as long as I recognise my ability level for the day (jumping and galloping when your back and hips hurt tends to make things worse not better!), then I always feel much better after riding, and in less pain than before I started.

Sometimes I will just go for walk around the fields, and at other times I will have a walk, trot and canter around the school.  The movement helps to reduce my stiffness and pain, and also helps to keep me a little bit fitter as well.

Now I'm not suggesting that you go out and buy a horse just because you have Rheumatoid Arthritis - you may find that you don't even like horses.  But it is worth investigating a local approved riding school and explaining what you would like to do.  If they are understanding, you may just find a perfect solution to getting exercise and using your joints, helping to prolong your flexibility and having some fun at the same time.