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Struggling with change and adapting (ostomy and lower back issues)

I’m struggling at the moment. I’m in therapy, but people who haven’t been involved with horses don’t understand. Health issues have made me stop riding, left my dream job (very large equine sanctuary) and give up my horses over the last few years. I’m miserable. I miss my job, I want so badly to keep doing it. It’s really added to my depression. Twenty years of being involved with horses to just stop.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I started horse sitting a little to take the edge off. I recently started riding again after 3 years out of the saddle. My heart needs it. I have ridden twice so far and each time is brutal. It’s painful to ride. I realize some of it is unused muscles and that is to be expected but this is more than that. Shooting pains from my lower back (torn discs) across my hip and down my leg. And I’m getting a migraine after. Neuro said “sacral instability” will cause this. I bought a back brace. It’s about 3" wide and wear it low across hips. It helped a bit but I think I need more support across my abdomen as well. After my colectomy and c section my abdominal muscles have not come back. I spent many weeks in physical therapy trying over the years. What I do have fatigues so quickly and feels like things are pulling apart thanks to scar tissue :sob:

I can’t find a brace that offers support but also accommodate my ostomy. I can’t just squash it to my body, there needs to be room for the bag to fill. I found abdominal braces that have holes for the bag, but they dont offer much back support. Maybe I need to wear both braces together? I even considered making my own. I am mediocre seamstress but I think I could with the right materials. It would be a big challenge. Or if anyone knows a brace that already exists?

I need this. I need to be able to ride. I don’t think my mental health can take the idea of losing this again cry :sob::sob::sob:

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No knowledge of braces. I’m just so terribly sorry that you’re going through this. Are there on-line support groups for this condition that might have some ideas? They might not be horse people, but they might need a brace for some other reason that accommodates an ostomy bag.

{{{HUGS}}} and prayers that you find a solution and can comfortably get back to a horsey life. :kissing_heart:


Thank you :slightly_frowning_face:

I’ve joined some groups in the past for ostomy support, UC, Fibra, but never met any horse people there. And someone who doesn’t know horses doesn’t understand why this is so hard to give up. Or why i cling to it. They want to tell you all the other things you can do. Yes, there are tons of other things that I can do without a problem. I know that. But my heart is with horses it has been all my life. This is a big part of my identity. I dont know who I am without horses .

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Are there other options with horses for you if riding just ends up not working out? For example, have you considered driving instead? I know it isn’t exactly the same, but it may let you continue to be active with horses while having less pain. I’d also see if there are any therapeutic riding centers near you, as they may have ideas for specialized gear, equipment, tack etc that could make riding easier or less painful.


I’m so sorry and want to acknowledge your losses - all very important to meaning in life. Us horse people get it. I was visiting a friend recently and she had a sign that SO resonated with me. I’ll post it here. I know it’s hard to hear but you must somehow piece things back together in some way? You could do online work to help animal rescue? I don’t know but there must be a way.

My heart breaks for you on riding and have no answer there. Just wanted to let you know there’s someone out there thinking of you.


I’m so sorry this path has been so challenging :frowning:

Have you considered trying a gaited horse? Is that an option at all? I know several people with severe back issues who have been unable to ride “regular” horses, but do fine on a Fox Trotter or Rocky Mountain Horse or Tennessee Walker.

Are you still seeing a physical therapist? Can you explain the movement in the saddle, and troubleshoot how you might be able to strengthen or adapt to make things feel better?

A thoughtful, compassionate surgeon (a tough ask, I know!) might also have some ideas. The SI joint can be fused. If that would significantly improve your comfort level, maybe it’s worth considering?

And are you seeing a good pain management physician, too? They’re such a good addition to the team. There are bad to mediocre ones out there, do don’t be afraid to keep looking if you’re not clicking with the first one you see.

There’s a way to get your horse fix here, don’t lose hope :heart:


I’ve considered driving but that seems terrifying to me :joy:. I’m not sure why. It seems so out of control but it’s definitely a thought if it comes down to it.

Ill check with one or two of the program around here. Maybe they have had clients with similar issues? It’s so specific I’m afraid there isn’t an available solution without patching different things together.

Have you looked into products from any of the companies that design ostomy belts (probably not the right word)? Maybe they would have a back brace or could design something for you.

Big hugs. I hope life gets easier and you can enjoy riding again :heart:


Thanks for the suggestions. I don’t know anyone with gaited horses. It may help with some pain, ill keep an eye out to try one. I think much of it is just having my hip open to sit on the horse. I have similar pain riding a four wheeler.

I do have a pain management doctor. They tried injecting my back in two places but I didn’t have any improvement. They haven’t suggested fusing. They and my Neuro just keep changing my dosage. I’m looking for a new neurologist or maybe a rheumatologist would be better? Or both. Idk damn doctors. Need a different doctor for every symptom :roll_eyes: I’m not in PT right now. She said they won’t send me again because there wasn’t enough improvement last time. Told me to join a pool 🤷 it’s been frustrating.

I don’t have any answers for you, but I hear you. I have MS and my exhaustion stopped my riding for many years. I faced fewer challenges than you to get back in the saddle. I HAD to get back to riding, it felt like my soul was dying.

There is one Far Infra-red radiation thing I got that you might be able to work something out using it. It is the Incrediwear Body Sleeve at incrediwear.com. I use one, it helps my back, maybe not as much as a back brace but the pain improves. You might be able to cut a hole that you need in it and still have back support and some support for your abdomen, but I am not totally sure it would work.

Don’t just go out and buy a gaited horse. Be sure to ride that horse you want to buy first. On two gaited horses I’ve ridden, a Paso Fino and a TWH my hip bursitis flared up big time in response to their different ways of moving. Their backs still move, it is just a different movement than a trotting horse, much busier.

I hear you about driving. Somehow deep inside me I have a great fear about driving a horse. It is much easier to jump off a horse than to jump out of a moving cart in an emergency. Driving still might be an answer for you, I just wanted you to know you are not the only one who worries about driving a horse.

If you find a cooperative stable see if you can start of riding just 5 minutes at a time. This way you won’t strain your body as much, and you won’t get as sore. It sounds like it may take your hips a while to relax enough, take it really slow so you don’t injure muscles.

In this section I have a thread “Getting Riding Fit at the speed of a Snail.” I have been back riding over 12 years and I still cannot handle much more than 30 minutes a ride.

Be patient with yourself!


Thank you. I’ll check out the incredawear and see if I can adapt it.

Oh I have no plans to ever buy another horse. My goal is to get to a point I can half lease. I found an owner not far from me. She has a couple horses to ride and just wanted some company. I’ve been going over to hang out while she rides and then hop on for 20 minutes when she is through. That has proven to be plenty for now. My brain and heart are all in but this damn body. My midsection is just a frustrating mess.


I suggest that you just walk the horse, for the first few months at least.

I am glad that the horse will have a chance to get its ya-yas out before you get on.

As far as dismounting goes it is much, much, much easier for me to dismount without straining anything if my riding teacher pushes my left knee into the saddle while I rise in the stirrups and swing my right leg over up until I am ready to get my foot out of the left stirrup.

Good luck. At least you have a PLAN!


As was already suggested, I was thinking taking up driving might be a way to go forward. It’s what I did. I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for over 25 years. I became a rerider in 1999 and tried really hard to kill myself riding. I bought the wrong horse and had some scary crashes.

I decided to give up horses, but had such a hard time with it. DH and I decided to buy acreage and get horses again, with miniatures for me to drive. I never found a mini that would suit, but I did find a Hackney pony. I sure loved that guy. He was very hot, not a good choice for a new driver (and I did have lessons). My trainer was annoyed that I bought him.

We did fine. He gave me a few scary moments, but we got through it all without injury to horse or human. I retired him when he was 27 and trained my daughter’s larger pony to drive. He became a good driving pony for me, as I just wanted to toodle around the neighborhood. He was totally chill and we put a lot of miles on together. I drove him until he was in his 30s and started getting cataracts. I kept him until he died, at one point moving him from Colorado to South Carolina when I moved.

I certainly wasn’t a particularly good rider, and my driving skills were always fairly low level. But I was good enough for what I was doing and to keep us safe on the road.

Driving was a great solution for me as my problem was dizziness from vertigo. I couldn’t tell when I was balanced when riding, and it didn’t matter for the level of driving I did.

With the right horse, there’s nothing scary about it.

That’s my two cents’ worth. Best of luck with whatever you decide.



Do you have an equine therapy program in your area?

They are often for disabled kids, but they may be able to share ideas and modifications that work for some of their students. They may also be able to recommend therapists that use horses as part of their therapy, that may be able to offer further ideas. I am thinking saddle modifications, mounting block modifications and other modifiers that might help.

I have found, that in general, people who work with developing tools to improve accessibility to riding for all sorts of people, are quite interested (and well equipped) in finding solutions for new considerations.

I hope you find someone who can offer you help!


It sounds like perhaps another opinion or two could be useful? I’ve also faced doctors who aren’t very helpful…some seem to have a limited bag of tricks, and when that’s exhausted they just sort of check out. I also find them so silod and specialized, it can be so frustrating when you have multiple things going on, or when things are just complex :frowning:

The SI joint can be injected, too, and that might be a good place to start. Get some anesthetic in there to confirm it’s the problem spot, and then some steroid or PRP or something to treat that inflammation. Once you know for sure it’s at the root of your pain (or part of it at least), surgery can be discussed if the injections aren’t helping enough or holding on long enough.

Do lidocaine patches or Voltaren gel make any dent in this pain? Might be something to try if you haven’t. Being topical, they’re a lot less likely to cause systemic side effects.

I’m sure you have a whole team of doctors, and know it can be overwhelming to bring new ones up to speed, especially if they also wind up not being a great fit, and you have to do it all over again. But there ARE people out there who will really fight to get you comfortable doing the things you want…you just have to find them. :heart:


My situation is similar can’t ride and missing it terribly. My lung damage is so extensive I need 3 liters per minute supplemental oxygen just to do ordinary activities and 6 to exercise.

This site had helped me in the past.

There’s a lot of info but they do sell exercise programs. I bought one for hip flexors that was really helpful before I got sick.


Could you use a small oxygen cylinder strapped to your back instead? They sell something for sailing that is just a small amount of air to let a sailor check their anchor or clear their hull. Much smaller than scuba tanks. They call them Mini Scuba systems. I wonder if it could be adapted to your needs?

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At 6 liters a minute they don’t last long. Most people who ride with supplemental oxygen attach the device to the saddle. If you put it on your back and fall it can hurt. It also affects balance.

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Can you do a belt with back support? If so - it looks like nu-hope will custom make it per another discussion board I found:

I spoke with Nu-Hope this afternoon and yes! They can make a double ostomy support back brace for my dad!

Very nice people! They gave me necessary paperwork to get started, so when I see dad on Wednesday we’ll get the measurements they need.


Oh gosh! I’m so sorry to hear about what you are facing. That is a lot. Is there not a compact mobile oxygen system that can be used while you’re riding? I don’t know much about those things but I hope you find a way to get back on your horse in some way.

I’ll have to look into these exercises. Thank you!

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