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Riders with Arthritis

In September 2011, I started experiencing the effects of Arthritis.  Some days are better than others, with manageable pain and moderate stiffness.  Other days it seems to be all through my body.  And of course, it can and has affected my riding.  

I'd sure love to hear from others about how you are managing your Arthritis, what you are doing to feel better and tips on what works to help you keep riding comfortably.

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Latest Activity: Aug 18

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on September 24, 2013 at 1:31pm

Sorry, I don't have a picture, but go to any of the Tack store web sites and most of the English stirrups are Fillis.

The Fillis stirrups' sides are ROUND all the way down to the foot bed, and when you take the pads out, the metal of where the rider's foot goes is a thin 1/8" wide rim on the outside of the footbed.  The Fillis pads do not give enough padding to keep the stirrups comfortable though there are new wrap around stirrup pads (over $30.00 USD) that are supposed to help a good bit.  The Fillis stirrups are also heavier than the old-fashioned Prussian sided stirrups.

The old fashioned Prussian sided stirrups are different.  The foot bed has "prickles" in the metal that give some grip though most people use pads (which are different from the Fillis pads) and the metal where the foot rests is 7/16" wide around the rim, wide enough so it is comfortable to ride without stirrup pads.  These were the stirrups almost everyone used 43 years ago when I started riding seriously, and back then stirrup pads were considered unnecessary luxuries.  Where the side branches of the stirrup come down to the foot bed the metal goes flat for around the bottom inch of the stirrup branch and it gradually widens so it is 1" wide where it meets the foot bed of the stirrup.  This makes the stirrup much more comfortable when the rider's foot goes to the inside of the stirrup for security.  STUBBEN still makes the Prussian sided stirrups in stainless steel, they are not cheap (around $60.00 USD?) but they are the reason that my feet no longer hurt for DAYS after I ride.

Unfortunately the HS Bow Balance stirrups have Fillis sides though they do have a rubber cover over the flex joints.  Even so the padded round surface does not feel that comfortable to the side of my foot and it does not let me wedge the base of my big toe into the stirrup.  This lessens my security in the saddle and the stirrup is more apt to move under my feet.  At least the wide generous foot bed on the Bow Balance stirrups is comfortable.

I ride hunt seat so I always have some pressure on the stirrups and I depend on this pressure to give me a "floor."  Since my balance is not very good and I do not have a proprioceptive sense I depend on this "floor" to keep me riding properly and securely.  It is so WONDERFUL using the Prussian sided stirrups, when I dismount now, my feet do not hurt when they touch the ground.

Other stirrups like the Prussian sided ones are some Polo stirrups and "exercise stirrups" for race horses.  These also have the wide foot bed with the "prickles" on the foot bed and flat sides down by the foot bed. 

Be safe, make sure the stirrups are made of stainless steel.

Comment by shannon lewis on September 24, 2013 at 11:03am

Thank you for your response Jackie.

I'm not sure what the fillis iron looks like...maybe you can include a pic? I ride in a Wintec dressage saddle, and my irons are english. Actually, if my feet start to hurt, I take my feet out of the stirrups for a while...I sincerly hope you can canter again soon. It is so liberating...which contributes to the endorphines that are so important. I always said my horses are my drug! I'm so sorry about your MS, I had a good friend who had MS, and she suffered with a variety of symptoms. I know how hard it can be.

I try to be philosophical about it...it could be worse. And I am so fortunate to have God in my life to bless me in many ways. :)

Comment by Jackie Cochran on September 24, 2013 at 9:11am

Hi Shannon, I'm so sorry you have RA.  Good for you for keeping riding!

What type of stirrups do you use?  After years of pain in my feet I finally traced it to my Fillis stirrup irons.  They make my feet HURT.  I switched back to the old fashioned Prussian sided stirrup irons and the pain in my feet magically went away.  With the Fillis stirrups I was getting pain across the ball of my foot and on the base of my big toe where it rubbed against the side of the stirrup, and this pain was lasting for DAYS.  I was hurting so much I was even thinking about stopping riding. 

Some of the pricy stirrups help the foot pain, but if their sides are like the Fillis irons they still hurt my feet, leaving me hobbling after I dismount.  I can do short periods of Fillis stirrups now if I just use them once every few months.  I cannot use them every time I ride.  I only use the Fillis sided wide bed safety stirrups (HS Bow Balance?) on my treeless saddle where I do not put as much weight in the stirrup.

With my MS the fatigue can be overwhelming.  Ever since I re-started riding I mostly WALK.  Three speeds of the walk, circles and curves at the walk, some lateral work, and of course just meandering around with some short trots thrown in.  It has taken me over six years, but this fall I think I will finally be strong enough to start cantering regularly again. 

Comment by shannon lewis on September 23, 2013 at 10:19pm

oops...the following note is missing the 1st sentence (don't know how that happened)

Anyway, I said I have had rheumatoid arthritis

Comment by shannon lewis on September 23, 2013 at 10:17pm

now for 7 years...it severely put a cramp in my life. Mainly in the area of fatigue, but the pain can make me quite discouraged as well. Although I keep riding anyway, I do find that my desire to do things is much deflated from before contracting it. The main things I have noticed that cause flare-ups in me, are stress and depression. The most important thing for me to combat this insidious disease is to make myself do the things I love. The things like riding, biking, painting that transport me and bring me tranquility are what keep me most healthy. I'm also on pretty strong medecine as well, which if I didn't take, I'd be in a world of hurt. But my main love...horses, is the best medecine for me. It keeps me active and moving my body, as well as releasing endorphines, which is a natural pain reliever. Adrenaline also is a natural pain reducer...which comes along with riding mountain trails for me. Now, when I get off...I'm a little stiff, especially landing on my feet, so I try to step off on a mounting block. But overall, fortunately my pain isn't activated by riding.

Hope this helps.

shannon

Comment by Zoe Bremer on July 29, 2013 at 12:21pm

I have rheumatoid arthritis and find that riding, walking and certain types of dancing all do me good.

Comment by dori hollander on May 27, 2013 at 6:47pm

I do no see any recent comments. Maybe you are all better now.. I hope so!!

My RA is still there. I feel especially tired this year because the I had to move. I spend most of my time cleaning . The other barn went bankrupt. It was soo beautiful. It even had heated floors in the winter. A hudge arena... They didn't pay their bills. I think the stress of moving is not good for anybody. I hope to get back in the saddle soon! I just seem to have a mental block about it.  My horse acts different now too.

Comment by Jan Jollymour on March 1, 2012 at 2:59pm

I don't have arthritis, I have fibromyalgia.  Are you sure, Nora, that you have arthritis?  

I also have good days and bad days, and a lot of total body pain.  My doctor and I have come up with a regimen which is helping a lot:  more calcium and magnesium than usually recommended (3 x per day), flaxseed or coldwater fish oil capsules (6000 mg. per day in 3 equal doses), one 15 mg. tablet of Meloxicam per day, and occasionally, if I've been riding multiple horses or I'm overtired, one or two of Tylenol's Body and Muscle Pain tablets.  

The other thing which helps a LOT is movement.  I know, moving feels horrible at first, but keeping things moving is, in the end, less painful and less debilitating than seizing up.  I'm sure Jackie would second that.

I'm with Marlene about the calcium/magnesium, and for sure about the beer.  Ditch the pop, and learn to drink water, which is a lot better for you, but definitely keep the beer!

Comment by Marlene Thoms on February 10, 2012 at 10:04am

Here's a deal for you, keep the beer, diet pop, aleve, and most of whatever you are eating;but  lose the smoking and polyunsaturates (corn oil, margarine). All smokers quit eventually, sooner is better than later. Good luck.

Comment by Nora Robinson on February 9, 2012 at 4:36pm

well right now for me, Aleeve seems to work well.  I only take it on especially bad days, and 1 pill seems to do the trick.  I've been doing a lot of reading on diet and Arthritis.  Of course there are lots of suggestions, especially about cleansing the system, and certain things to avoid which are fairly obvious. Right now I am a smoker, drink diet pop, and am fond of having a cold beer now and then.  These are all at the top of the list for things to avoid!  So I have a big task ahead of me to eliminate them.   

 

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