Riding with an Insulin Pump

Does anyone here ride with an insulin pump? I am an active upper level event competitor, and looking into it. In general I ride 9-10 horses a day. So if you have one or have had one, tell me about your experience please. Also, how tough, as far as breakage in say a fall, are they?

I don’t know, but I think Jay Cutner (quarterback with the Chicago Bears) plays with one. He has type 1 diabetes. So they must be pretty hearty.

I have a friend with diabetic toddler who plays very hard in the park, falls climbs slides with it tucked into her pants and it just keeps trucking. It seems to be able to get wet.

I have been diabetic for 17, almost 18 years. I was put on a pump at age 9, and decided to return to injections at age 15. It’s always a very personal decision to take the pump route, but here’s my two cents:

  1. I really, really disliked being attached to something ALL THE TIME. It was very uncomfortable for me to know there was something IN me, even if it was just a tiny little piece of plastic.

  2. Despite being extremely anal about changing my infusion sets every 2 days (at the time, every 3 was recommended), I found that my infusion sites were often painful and irritated. I was slightly allergic to the tape attached to the infusion set I was using, but found the other options extremely uncomfortable cannula-wise.

  3. After about a year of use, I began to have issues with scar tissue forming around my infusion sites. Eventually, this led to issues with crimped cannulas, and I found myself having to change my infusion sets more often. There were a lot less options for infusion sites with the pump as well (unlike syringes), so that was a problem. The scar tissue problem also made it pretty painful to change my sets. I still have scars on my belly from my infusion sets and have not been on the pump for 7 years.

  4. I found that riding several horses per day made my infusion sites rather sore. I think this is because of the nature of our positions (frequent changes in hip angle, the use of core muscles, etc) while on a horse.

  5. Finally, the placement of my pump was always problematic. Most people I knew with one wore it on their belt or the waistband of their pants, but mine would CONSTANTLY fall off when worn in that location (no fun when riding a horse- pump falls off, set comes out). I began wearing it in my bra, but that was a comfort problem in and of itself. I actually started to disconnect my pump while riding, but this was not an option when riding several horses in one stretch because it meant I wasn’t getting my basal rate for several hours.

It took me a long time to find an endocrinologist that thought my decision to go back to injections was about ME and my personal feelings. Several doctors were telling me that the pump gave its wearer better control and more freedom, and I kept saying the opposite was true for me. I finally found an endo that was willing to hear me out, and she agreed that the pump wasn’t the best option for me considering all the issues I’d had over the course of several years.

I went back on daily injections and have had better A1cs since then. My last was 6.2. Again, going on the pump is a personal decision, but I would think seriously about finding an ACTIVE individual with a similar lifestyle to talk to about how they deal/dealt with it before listening to a non-diabetic endocrinologist (that usually has a vested interest in getting as many patients as possible on the pump) tell you how wonderful it is. I find that the people that are happiest with their pumps are those that have desk type jobs and extremely controlled work-out regimes (gym/running/etc).

Before I scare you off- I am the only person I’ve met that had this set of issues wearing a pump. A nurse practitioner in my endo’s office went to a conference over the summer during which she wore a pump with saline instead of insulin. She agreed that she hated being attached to it, and that it was a deal-breaker type feeling for her. But again, I’ve never met someone that’s had as many problems as I did with the pump.

I know several upper level eventers (Advanced) who run with pumps. They tell me they like it as it helps them have better control during competition.


I’ve been riding with my insulin pump for close to 10 years now. I have experienced several serious falls with mine and have never had a problem, it just keeps ticking!

I do not wear mine on my belt like a pager though, so that might make a diffrence. I tuck mine into my sports bra where it sits quite comfortably and is indiscreet. I always worried about the tubing getting caught on stall door latches or even my fingers if I had a funky rein moment where my fingers might end up near my waist.

Also, the glue/sticky whatever on the actual catheter/infusion is pretty hardy. I’m a sweater especially in the summer and I haven’t had problems with the catheter coming “unstuck” due to sweat.

Personally I highly recommend it! Good Luck!

I had a wonderful student with one. She would ride with it in lessons in a fanny pack. Other that it rolling sometimes forward and her having to adjust it back occasionally- it seemed to be no problems. She would take it off for shows, however, Which made it problematic when she would take it off and the ring steward would tell me 15 trips till you go, then it would turn into 20 etc…I had a meltdown once when that happened as we plan exactly when to take off the pump. If it was off too long she would go very high.

Thankfully, once I explained it to ring stewards that we need an exact number and to not be moved down due to her insulin, they were wonderful to work with. I just didn’t want to violate her privacy by telling everyone and their brother. I felt like her riding was one of the things that she could just be a normal kid and not a kid with diabetes. But, in this instance it was unavoidable.

She has fallen off with it and it hadn’t broken. I no longer teach her due to my health stuff going on and I miss her very much.

We had a girl at the barn that rode with one, the actual pump she carried was smaller then a pager. She loved that thing! Never had any problems riding but she would detach the pump at shows as she had one official not believe her it was an insulin pump. Other then that she just clipped it on the wasteband of her pants and away she went. She did break 1 pump in a fall, but just cracked the case, the rest still worked. She doesn’t ride much anymore since she moved, but I know she still has the pump and she is currently in nursing school getting all her hours and she said she wouldn’t be the same without it. With the weird hours it keeps her regulated so she doesn’t even have to think about doing her injections.

I know this is an old thread, but for those who are riding with an insulin pump , where on your body do you put it ?