Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Knee Report

Why I Limp

Reading Shannon's blog (http:// today, I noted the comment that " I don't know a single dressage rider who doesn't have a bad back, knee, hip or neck."

I do have neck problems, an occasional back issue, and obviously knee problems. But, you know what? None of them were actually caused by riding. While I have pulled a back muscle now and then from the saddle, my chiropractor has often said that my back is in really good shape, usually so for a rider.

The neck stems from, I suspect, a fall I had as a child when I cracked my head on a radiator after I jumped on my parents' bed. I had headaches then and it wasn't until I discovered chiropractic that I have found a way to deal with them. Then, about 15 years ago, my car was hit by a drunk driver and I ended up with a whiplash injury. As far as I know, riding has never actually aggravated my neck. In fact, when I ride, it usually is better.

The knees...well some are a bit horse related. The right knee injury came in high school when I tried to go over the high jump and landed badly on the mats right where they overlapped. That was when I tore the ACL. The doctor just said it was a sprain, but years after, when I went to a proper orthopedic doctor, I discovered the real problem. Perhaps 10 or so years ago, I wrecked the left knee pushing a wheelbarrow across my yard with one too many bags of fertilzer in it for the paddocks. The barrow tipped, I tried to stop it and there went the ACL in my left knee.

Then I made the decision to have arthroscopic surgery. I did not have the ACL reconstructed in either knee mostly because I'd been living with the missing ACL in the right knee for so long, that I figured I could cope with the left knee as well. It was kind of OK for a while, but over time, the joints are started to protest more and more. But I have been lucky enough to find Dr. Magaziner, prolotherapy to tighten the remaining ligaments, and stem cell therapy to help restore some of the damaged cartilege. So, for now, although I am not pain free, I can ride and do most of the chores around the barn. (Well, the housecleaning could use some help....but even if I were 100% sound, that would still be true. *G*)

My knees often hurt when I ride, but, it's true. Pain is a part of least so some degree. Being a successful rider does make demands on the human anatomy. It's one of the reasons I love my Ansur treeless saddles so. Without a hard tree between me and my horses, there is a softness and unity between our movements I simply cannot feel in a treeless. If you have ever ridden bareback, you will realize how much you can really move with your horse. The Ansur gives you that feel with the security of a saddle.

I think too, the Ansur has helped keep my back in good shape by getting rid of most of the concussion involved in the sitting trot in particular.

As one thunderstorm after another threatens to roll across my township, I am simply sitting and thinking about riding. The one blessing is that when I went out to feed the Boys, it did feel cooler. I don't know if the storms have broken the back of the heat wave, but right now it feels pretty promising.

Of course, the arena is soggy again and my lawn....well, it needs a mowing badly.

Never a dull day here at Follywoods. There is always a nice "to do" list on hand.


  1. Anonymous10:28 PM

    My knees are mostly OK, occasional hip trouble and a chronic bad back - but I mostly know how to fix it myself (PT person taught me) and I exercise enough to keep it in shape. Riding is fine for it - sometimes I have to avoid sitting trot if its sore. As long as I'm careful about lifting, and avoid rotation, I'm pretty well off (for someone my age!).

  2. "Action List" is the Silicon Valley terminology. I quite like it. It sounds so pro-active. I have sidelined myself for a few weeks with a hip problem. As my hubby says, "God invented cars too late in the game or people wouldn't have had to ride horses at all. It's unnatural"

  3. Woohoo, I got quoted.....I feel like a celebrity! :)

    I should probably clarify myself: my knee, neck, back and hip problems didn't come from riding horses. It's the falling off that did me in!

  4. I wonder if you were predisposed to tearing your ACL's. Not that it's a good comparison but our dog tore her first ACL when she was less than a year and the other on as soon as she healed from the first surgery. There was no way to avoid it - it must have been the way her knees were configured.

    In an asymmetrical horse where you want the saddle to help even out/compensate for the horse's movement I wonder if tree or treeless is better. I could not ride Tetley bareback at anything but the walk - I would slip off his left side. So I think feeling and moving with him too much might not be a good thing in this case?

  5. Hello Jean, I am back from my holidays ^-^

    Very interesting comment about treeless saddle and feel of the horse.
    When I have lots ALL my extra-ponuds, I think it might be an area I will try on with Teena.

    Do they have "pretty" treeless western saddle?