When Pain Rules Your Life: Riding with Fibromyalgia

Riding with Fibromyalgia

Comments (21)

Comment Feed

Riding & Fibro

What a wonderful find this article is. To my great astonishment I became a horsewoman in my later years. I started riding at age 52. Although only diagnosed this week at age 66, I have lived with Fibromyalgia since my mid-20s. There have been many times when I was convinced I would have to give up riding, but my heart and soul won't just not let me. I had have a wonderful relationship with a Paint mare for over 10 years now. I ride twice a week, one lesson and one free ride. That is my maximum. No matter how I feel each riding day, by the end of the hours at the barn my mood is calm and my outlook on life is sunnier. Due to the extreme tightness of my muscles I need to have chiropractic adjustments regularly as well as massages. On my good days, I treat myself to flying lead changes just for the pure pleasure of them. As a result it always knocks my pelvic girdle out of line and twists my spin, but my chiropractor puts them back. I don't indulge in this much anymore but the thrill is still there when I do. After years of being misdiagnosed, I now think I can settle my mind into accepting what is. I so appreciate the comments below the article. It's comforting to know that there are others still in the saddle despite the condition. Thanks.

Jennifer James more than 2 years ago

Thank You for the article

I read this with great interest. I am still able to ride and work and do light exercise, sometimes I pay for it the next day, some days I am lucky. I have spikes or flares that last a few days but nothing more than that. I am lucky. I have horses and agree with everything you have said. I have just resumed riding and was pleased to say a half hour lesson did more good than bad. And I just loved it, made me forget my aches and pains and gave me something to focus on and exercise doing something I love. I like the ideas you give on ground work as my arms and hands are worst affected and my strength has suffered. thank you for the article, the inspiration to keep going and the great ideas to do just this.

Julie more than 4 years ago


I was very interested to get someone else's perspective on riding fairly steadily through years of FMS. Mine is a little different from yours in that I actually accumulate energy from rising trot work. IF it fits quite a strict criteria. I must be riding a horse I know so we can sychronize our balance and anticipate each other's movements. The horse must be able to maintain a steady rhythm. And I must breath slowly in rhythm with the trot as I post, about four beats per breath most of the time. If I can trot like this for ten to twenty minutes I come home with my pain down around three units out of ten, my mind cleared of fibrofog and far more energy than I set out with. Most muscle spasms I was dealing with when I got on will be much quieter, too. Walk and canter are fun but they cost me something whereas my trot work is all payload. I keep wishing we could duplicate the action for non horsey fibro sufferers. I am just beginning to realize that not all fibro riders are even getting the benefit from their riding that has been the keystone of my treatment for years. I noticed feeling better after rides because I was riding a rather hot Thoroughbred who tuned into my steady breathing to hold himself together. Then a lymphatic masseuse confirmed for me that I was flushing my lymph and the rhythmic breathing was crucial for this to take place. It then became a staple for my treatment plan and has been dubbed my physiorides. :) If I can do this even once a week I am in fairly good shape. If I can do it two or three times a week I feel almost cured! Any more than three times a week begins to drain me; I've maxxed out the return on my input. I'd be very interested for you to try it on a steady horse if you have one available. One of my horses preferred to do this on a large circle, my current prefers to cover flat ground in a straight line. I hope you benefit like I did.

Ruth more than 5 years ago

Fibro and horses

love this article so happy to find i am not alone in having to reduce the amount of riding i can do x

sian more than 5 years ago

Environmental illness?

Most of the EI Drs I know consider fibromyalgia a symptom, not a disease. Mold illness is everywhere, but getting a diagnosis is very very rare. A recent study showed over 65% of homes have enough mold to impact health. Look into Dr Ritchie Shoemaker's work. And a Showmaker certified Dr will know how to test you for mold exposure. Hidden unseen mold ruined my health and killed my husband

Karen Dean more than 5 years ago

Environmental illness response

First of all, Karen, my most sincere condolences on the loss of your husband. It's a terrible thing to go through, and nothing will ever make it right. I am so sorry that you had to go through such an ordeal.

However... (you knew there was going to be a 'but') the information you opened with about fibromyalgia is not correct. It is not what has been found in the majority of research, nor at the teaching hospital in Oregon, OHSU - Oregon Health and Sciences Center. Fibromyalgia is believed by those most up-to-date with the illness to be a Central Nervous System disorder, often referred to as "Central Sensitization," originating in the brain.

See Medical News - Life Sciences and Medicine online article, "Fibromyalgia now considered as a lifelong central nervous system disorder"

The National Pain Report online article "Fibromyalgia Origins Found in Central Nervous System"

UpToDate online article, "Patient information: Fibromyalgia (Beyond the Basics)"

I find this important to communicate because those of us with fibro have to deal with a lot of misdirection from well meaning friends.

This is not to say disease causing mold isn't a problem, I know that it is! But when one of my friends suggested I look into it, I did - and found that the significant majority symptoms of mold exposure were widely at variance with the significant majority of fibro symptoms.

I find it somewhat ingenuous to suggest that doctors believe it's a symptom, not a disease. Please don't tell that to the legions of sufferers. It is a real and often disabling disease; if the docs you know feel that way, I urge them to become better informed.

I do respect your advocacy for mold-born illnesses, and hope that people hear you. But please don't think it's the same as, or often mistaken for fibro. These are not the same thing.

Terry B more than 5 years ago


Hello i know you commented t3 yrs ago my gp taljs of the above as a condition i have my consultant basicaly told me to get fit enough for a 10 k run im feelibg so low as im in oain every day im offered pain relief but it dousnt work so they try another i dont have a full fiagnisis i have pubs and needles in hands most if the 24 hours burning hot spots every where aches and pains im a previous lupus sufferer very sore joints in hands and elbows and back im just so musserable i wish i knew what this was so i could read up and gelo my self more oh and ive stopped riding its too painful

Sharon goldsmith more than 2 years ago

Thank you!

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about 3-4 months ago. I have been struggling for the past 2-3 years, and everyone tells me to exercise. But exercise kills me. I stopped riding about 2 years ago, and I have been looking into getting another horse to help me with my fibro, since I have heard that it could really help me. After reading your article, I am definitely going to be looking into getting back into riding, since I think that could really help. thanks again!

Bethany more than 5 years ago


Have you considered changing your diet? I have done lots of reading on diet change. Daug Kauffman has a web site that offers some interesting help. Good luck and I wish you the best.

Stephanie Bushman more than 5 years ago

Thank you

I really needed to hear that someone else feels what I do. After being so active all my life, having no energy and no strength tends to increase my depression. I love my babies with everything in me but just filling their hay net tire wipes me out. It's amazing how hard everyday activities have become. This article gives me hope that I am not alone in this battle. My horses are my life and I don't want my Fibromyalgia to control every corner of my life. Thank you so much.

Taara A more than 6 years ago

Thank you!

This post and the comments are much appreciated! Coping with RA and fibro is a challenge, physically and mentally. Caring for my horse leaves me with no energy to ride, but just being around him is therapeutic. You gave me ideas and encouragement. Thank you all!

Diane B more than 6 years ago

Overcoming Fibromyalgia

As a supporter and believer of holistic horse care, I'm also a Certified Riding Master, Instructor and Nutritional Health Coach. Fibromyalgia is simply a nutritional deficiency where the body has just run out of essential nutrients to help the body maintain and/or heal itself. This information is not commonly known by most medical doctors. You must change your lifestyle of eating habits. There are foods that are detrimental to your body, whereas there are foods that aid in healing. Fibromyalgia is easily overcome by adding some essential minerals and fats to your diet. Sufferers of this soft tissue damage are recommended to stay away from anything containing gluten. Wheat, barley, rye and oats. No fried foods of any type, no oils, no margarines (real butter only), processed meats that contain nitrites or nitrates, no carbonated drinks, no BBQ'd meats or veggies that are blackened (carcinogenic!). The most essential nutrient missing in your diet is selenium. Find a top quality pharmaceutical grade vitamin/mineral supplement. It is recommended that 600 mcg of Selenium is needed daily, per 100 lbs. of body weight. You simply cannot get this much out of the food you eat, so you do need to supplement. Fibromyalgia is simply "white muscle disease" found in livestock, like sheep, horses and cows. Veterinarians know this, but MD's don't because they are not taught how to cure anything, but only treat symptoms with pharmaceuticals. Holistic and Naturopathic doctors do understand that the body can fix itself, wants to fix itself, if given the correct nutrition.

Mary more than 6 years ago

Fibro advice

I respect your knowledge you do have but to say that healing fibromyalgia is simply a matter of good diet and right supplementing is insulting to those of us who have worked very hard at our nutrition. Its not that simple for most. And my healing has actually been delayed by professional advice like this because it made me feel like if I just ate the exact right thing I would be healed and since I was still suffering I must be doing something wrong. It kept me from searching out more helpful treatment. I have been sick over15 years, eat healthier than anyone I know and know more about supplements than most of my doctors. Fibromyalgia is a complicated disease, that like all diseases, is improved with quality nutrition. But just as good food doesn't heal everyone with hiv, cancer, lupus, stroke, etc it doesn't with fibro either. I am sure your comments were meant to be helpful but saying this sort of thing only sets many up for self blame and delays them finding the right help. Please reconsider you spiel in the future.

Kristinenesbitt more than 6 years ago

Fibro is 'simply'...

I couldn't help wincing when I read your opening line, Mary. If there is one thing anyone with Fibromyalgia quickly finds out it is that FMS is never 'simply' any thing. It would please us all immensely if you were right but your theory doesn't take into account those of us who were fine until an accident, emotional trauma or disease/treatment brought on sudden symptoms. If you knew how often we endure your well meaning but simplistic sort of optimism, and how horribly discouraging and alienating it is to have what is extremely messy and complicated for us be described as a neat little package. I almost choked with disbelief that you actually wrote, "Fibromyalgia is easily overcome..." I have been under the constant care of a naturopath for fifteen years. Although he has made a very positive impact on my symptoms and quality of life I am as yet uncured, though not for lack of effort. You gave no indication that you have this disease so please, in future, speak to those of us who do with more respect and compassion.

Ruth more than 5 years ago


I'm sorry all the above comment is bull! Yes diet plays a part but won't cure you. I was a professional jockey and got diagnosed 4 years ago and had for 10 years before that and I eat healthy, don't drink alcohol,eat 5 day and water only and don't smoke and I take vitamins especially vit d and I still get flares only for days not weeks or months but it still lets me know it's there even though I still ride and walk twice a day so not all fibromyalgia patience are not trying to help themselves and sit in deep depression as Drs would like to think!

Helen more than 5 years ago


What you wrote made so much sense.
Do you have a web site

Allya more than 3 years ago

Adjusting with fibromyalgia

Horses have been my companions since I was a toddler. I rode fast and long and started and trained many horses over the years. Then the pains and lack of stamina came along in my 40s doctors where no help I had confusion and frustration at my being unable to "Cowgirl Up". The last several years I have changed over to gaited horses and recently sold my beautiful 15.3 hand foxtrotter because grooming, tacking up and getting on and off just became to overwhelming. I now have the smoothest 13.2 hand Icelandic that takes good care of me and allows me to go for miles on adventures. Being 5 gaited helps my body to stay flexible. I am very long legged with a 36 inseam but this Icelandic even though short is very stout and round. Still it is still a bit hard on my vanity but he doesn't know he is small and out walks my friends horses and very sure footed in rough terrain. So we are a funny pair and a conversation started. I love how easy it is to get off but I have also trained him to step up to bumpers and logs. I too can't imagine being without my horse they are my therapy both physically and mentally.

Cindy Chaney more than 6 years ago

Riding horses with fibromyalgia

I was told in 2004 that I would loose the use my legs. I then volunteering at Heavenly Horse Haven with 100 animals to feed daily. So I started helping doing what I could to help feed and take horses in and out to pasture. I have been helping for 5 years and have gained back some muscle mass and strength. I have adopted my lifetime therapy horse that I ride as much as I can and this post above is exactly how I feel daily. I ride maybe an hour at a time and that really helps me in so many ways .I sleep through the night after riding Jolene...

Donna Stauffer more than 6 years ago

Such strength

I found your article while browsing around for info on horse riding with FM. Reading the way you have come to accept your condition, even the fact that it will get worse with time, but nevertheless not allowing it to take you away from your passion, brought a tear to my eye. My wife suffers from FM and I have been looking for ways for her to keep up an active lifestyle. Getting a horse is an option as she simply adores them and would love to take up riding again. She sometimes mentions days when she feels so 'unfulfilled' at not having been able to do anything even moderately strenuous. I would like her to be able to jump on a horse and go for a little walk on these days. Thanks very much for the info and I wish you continued happiness with yur horse.

Tam Biswas more than 6 years ago

Riding with Fibromyalgia

I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the article. I was touched by your thoughtfulness in regards to your wife's condition. I hope to hear that she is riding again, and if not, that she is visiting a horse and active in some way with horses again. Thank you again for your thoughtful comments. I wish you both all the best.

MaryAnn Myers more than 6 years ago

Fibro and riding

thanks for writing this. I am 63 and I have good days and bad days. I have a lesson once a week and sometimes the rest of the day I am good for nothing. But being able to ride makes me feel like I am NOT an invalid. The horse i am riding now is a challenge but my instructor gives me lots of walk breaks and when I say I'm all in, then we stop. I actually wish I could ride more than once a week as I think it might even help my fibro. I have been doing core exercises at home for over a year and know that at least that part is in good shape. Even if all I end up doing is walking, I will not give up riding. It makes me feel like I am alive. It's kind of funny though, that on the days when I am feeling the worst i usually have the best lessons. Thanks for writing this. It gives me hope....

Mary Eckstein more than 6 years ago

Subscribe to the Harmany Newsletter

* indicates required
Email Format

View previous campaigns.

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Harmany Equine:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.