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Doctors told me I couldn't ride anymore *devastated*

well, I got some devastating news 2 days ago and after crying and letting it sink in I am trying to stay positive. I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at 15 and was on Enbrel for a while before I was switched to humira about two years ago. Well November 2012 I went to the hospital because I thought I had the flu. Turns out it was much serious than that. I had a infection from humira and had to be in a medically induced coma because my organs and heart were shutting down. initially, they said i’d only be out 2 days but once I fully woke up I had found out it was 8. I had fluid all around my lungs and heart and was on high doses of prednisone. I was now an ARDS survivor and am very blessed to be alive. Well since then I have had problems with my arthritis and was on my horse when my husband reved up his engine to his motorcycle and it backfired and my horse spooked and literally sidestepped and I fell. It wasn’t a hard fall or anything I just wasn’t prepared and fell on my butt. My back was killing me so I went to my doc who decided to do a bone scan because he saw something on my xrays to find I broke my back in two places AND did a test that shows I also now have osteoporosis. At 25, all I could think about was how in the heck did that happen. He also said that if a little fall could do that, then he said that I couldn’t ride anymore. My horse is 17.3 hands and a complete laid back boy except for that once but he’s semi retired anyways, and I have a 16 month old son now so I am devastated and wondering what the heck I should do. I am 5’3’’ 120 pounds and think that if I want to ride I could ride the 12.2 pony I got as a leadline pony for my son. But for the past two years, my dream has been to show again on my horse. I feel like I’m getting robbed of my dream. Are their any shows in VA that adults can ride ponies? I don’t care if they are local…I am just blindsided and upset.

If you didn’t have a 16 month old son, I’d say find something small and quiet to ride

But you do. You broke your back in two places. What if those breaks had compromised your spinal cord and put you in a wheelchair? Or worse, made you a complete quadriplegic? Even if you didn’t want to show your horse, you got dealt a crummy hand, quite early in life. The reality of your situation is that you will have to deal with this condition for life and it will, no matter how much we wish it wouldn’t, change the physical aspects of your life. In a word, yes. It sucks. You got robbed, but only of that particular dream. There are still many horse things you can do, but, while keeping as much physical strength as you can, you should probably wait til Junior is walking, talking, potty trained and can feed himself. You’re still young, won’t be that long, and you’ve seen on this very bb that children impact the whole horse thing a great deal anyway for the average person. Get all the information you can about your condition, get a second or even a third opinion, if for nothing else than to help you come to terms with the limitations you might have now, or could expect later.

Find a support group with people your age or older, that share the same condition and find out what their real life experiences are and what sports they do now, did then and how they deal with all of it.

And yep, you can have a pity party, cry, moan, bitch, you have a right.
Just don’t do it for too long, give your kid a big hug, and say to yourself, my horse dreams, no matter how small, would be precious time not spent with my son, so I’ll cherish those moments even more.

Take care.

Wow, I’m sorry. Do you have a Riding for the Disabled group near you? I wonder if you could ride there. Driving?

As a fellow large horse owner (mine’s 17.2), falls hurt a lot more from the bigger boys regardless of why they happen.

Driving is a great idea. Maybe teach your horse to drive? You could have so much fun driving.

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I’m very sorry for your troubles. I think that maybe you need to stop, take a deep breath, and consult a doctor who can help with the osteoporosis. It’s something women have to deal with as they age, so it’s not like there isn’t help out there to help you rebuild bone or keep what you have.

It’s not a life ending thing. Many women are very active, including engaging in athletic activity, and have osteopenia or osteoporosis. You may decide or find out that you cannot engage in this particular athletic activity or that you may have to modify that activity. The goal now should be to protect the bone you have or improve the density if that’s medically possible.

Beware the doctor who makes grand sweeping pronouncements including the words never, always, must. Many a doctor has told patients there is no hope, only to have that patient see a different doctor and receive treatment that improved or saved their lives.

Seek a second or even third opinion, do your own research, be an informed patient. Please don’t despair.

So sorry for your news. I also vote for taking up driving. It’s what I did, and I’ve never been sorry. I have RA and was accumulating too many injuries coming off horses. Since I started driving ten years ago, I haven’t had a single injury, and I’ve had a ton of fun with it.

Best of luck, whatever you decide.


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I also think you should talk to another doctor, and work out a life plan for yourself. Having this happen at age 25 is scary and devastating, no question. So you need to find out what people do in this situation. Can the bone loss be corrected? What kind of exercise is safe for you?

To be honest, with this level of osteoporosis it may be that any kind of fall or activity is dangerous. But you have to live, and part of living is exercise. Too little activity can be dangerous as well. It may be that some risk is just going to be part of your life.

A small pony may not be the safest option for you. Saintly is good but IME a very small pony requires much more precise balance to ride. I do not feel especially safe on one. If I were looking for the safest possible height, I’d be thinking 13.3 - 15 h. However, if your pony is wider than mine, plus you being a bit shorter than me, that may not apply to you.

In dressage there is no restriction on adults riding ponies, and there are even some groups encouraging it. My (large) pony and I have won several CDS pony awards.

Good luck, and take care.

Well, a couple of thoughts. For one thing, I can’t help but recommend you consider a Fjord. In general, they are a small, sturdy, sensible, not-spooky breed. I’m 5’6 and not slender; I ride a 13.3 Fjord, and he doesn’t feel remotely pony-ish to me. Lots of videos of me riding him in my signature line.

On the other hand, the danger for you is in the fall. Falling from a 14 hand pony is not a whole lot easier on your body than falling from a 16 hand horse. It’s more the torque and the random luck of how you land.

Please do get a second opinion on all this. I have Osteopenia myself. My doctor recommended a bone builder supplement, Vitamin D, weight bearing exercise, and a homeopathic supplement called Oss-Regen. (Not really recommending homeopathic, just telling you what my doctor said.)

Remember, there is a lot you can do with a horse besides ride.

If you’re going to ride, take precautions. Get the best vest you can. Contemplate gentler riding goals. Do you really have to compete?

Never is a long time, and not likely your real diagnosis.

If I had a nickel for every time a doctor told me I could never ride again over the past 30 years I would be a rich woman. I am not downplaying your diagnosis and that may well be the best course of action for you in the long run but I do think that it is also a knee jerk comment many doctors make as a cover their ass sort of thing. I would get a second or third opinion if necessary than make your own decision.

I was also reminded of a teen girl locally who slid off her quarter horse sideways during a barrel race, landed on her butt, and broke her neck. So, your fall may not have been as benign a fall as you are thinking it is. She has recovered and is riding again; I’m not aware that she had especially weak bones.

Landing butt first is actually kind of hard on your body because there’s nowhere for the shock to go and be absorbed. I’m thinking of another friend who broke her tailbone, and even myself coming off and feeling like the wind had been driven right from me.

How does your husband feel about you riding?

It seems early to say “never”, but perhaps wise to pause for a bit and heal.

I hope you are able to find hope.

Backs can break even without osteoporosis ( I just broke mine in two places too). I would go for the second opinion, and third of necessary. Nothing is more important than health, but that includes mental health. If you are like me, being told I couldn’t ride ever again would,do lots of harm to mine.

Good luck

I have had a spinal fusion (L-3-4) in 2010 and diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis about a month ago. Been taking Enbrel and seems to have helped with the PA

I was told not to ride either. That was in 2009. I took doc advice, so I sold my martini riding gelding. I have a miniature horse and drive. We drive all over the place, competed in a couple ADT and CDEs. More people seem to be coming over to the minis. Don’t think of it as ending things are just beginning! PM if you need to chat.

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You are so young - that is a rotten card to be dealt. I’d find out to what extent you have osteoporosis, on a scale, so you know how frail you really are.
There are bone specialists who do osteo, and you would get the latest advice.

I’m guessing you had compression fractures.

You are a long way from the ground on your horse, even sliding off to dismount is a long slide and can cause a break, in your foot, or anywhere.

Many women ride with osteo until late in life - but it has to be the right horse with almost no chance of taking a fall. (Almost, no chance … if you know horses!)

I’m not into driving, but have helped with judging competitions with friends. You will find that the driving group are a wonderful lot - of mixed ages. Many have done the horse thing with their kids and are now doing something for themselves and loving it. A friendly, social bunch.

Good luck, be careful and take calculated chances, with full understanding that you have a young child that needs you, and know that you could end up hurt.

Thanks guys. I actually I have gotten two other opinions from my rheumatologist and my OBGYN who did my oteo test and they have looked at my past year and my X-rays and my condition right now and have all three said its not wise for me to ride at all. I told them about my pony and they said that leisurely rides could be okay in the future but not likely. They all even said I need to put my baby plans on hold for right now. My husband and I were going to try for another baby in the fall so we are really upset about that too. I feel useless and am throwing a pity party about that. My husband doesn’t want me to ride either but I don’t know if its out of anger or what.

That’s a very tough diagnosis OP. I think you’re entitled to a pity party for a day or two.

I’m not a doc and I don’t know your condition, but IMHO a pregnancy seems harder on your system than riding. I can imagine their concerns there.

But none of this makes you “useless.” Your value as a person is far more than your ability to make another baby. If riding is out, then you need to figure out what else you will do for physical activity and for mental release. There are so many options out there, depending on what appeals to you.

I’m sure your husband is upset and scared too, and probably having his own quiet pity party.

There are ways to be around horses that don’t involve riding. There are other animals that are fun to work with. And there are many ways you will continue to be an important, valuable, and productive member of your community.


I guess I’d ask if any of your doctors ride. If not, try and find one that does and understands the sport without stereotypes and preconceptions.

I am very sorry to read of your troubles, but WTF was the Husband thinking to do something so irresponsible and dangerous!? Sheesh. Driving is probably not the best thing either, unless it is with a pony, because you can fall out of a cart just as easily as fall off of a horse. Definitely look into thereapeutic riding programs in your area. Good luck and keep us posted.

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OP, if I had a pony and some time, what I’d do is get a clicker training book and teach the pony to work for you at liberty. You could train him to do something like a dog agility course or you could teach him a liberty routine like one of the fabulous ones Corky Randall used to do with Cass Olé. With some work, there’s no reason your routine couldn’t be incredibly moving and entertaining and actually in great demand in your area. It would be very fun, unique, and I’m sure you’d bring joy and a love for horses to anyone who watched it.

Hi, just wanted to say that I do not have arthritis, but ended up with ARDS and in a coma on a ventilator and was paralzed when I woke up out of the coma. It was a long way back, but I remember thinking, I will get a therapy horse! I had to relearn to walk, but have had two horses since then. I ride now, 10 years after the coma, and riding has helped me strengthen the weak side I was left with after the paralysis.

I would try to retire the big guy and do other things with horses while your body gets stronger, and it will. You are very young, and I would never listen to a doctor who told me I could never do something again–on the other hand, you need, need, need, to heal and it takes time. I would not get on a horse’s back until you were stronger. And a riding doctor makes a whole lot of sense–tehy will understand when a non-rider will not.

I continued to get stronger and heal, muscle wise, for about 2 years. I no longer limp, for example. When I first got back to riding in earnest, 2 years ago, my leg would go numb and shake in the stirrup. I still have off days, but you do continue to get stronger. And I am way older than you are. So take it easy, enjoy the baby, and figure that life has some other plans for you right now, and you can work through this.