WILDHORSE! Contact us at wildhorse@wildhorse.vpweb.com - We teach therapeutic horseback riding in Montana.

Therapeutic Riding and MS:
 A dialogue between Laura B., Wildhorse! Therapeutic Riding Program Student Student, and Dr. Kari Ann Owen, Ph.D., Program Director and Head Instructor of Wildhorse Therapeutic Riding Program.

What riding activities we have done have been most helpful, and why?
                Coordinated leg movements, posture, and stirrup arrangement have been extremely helpful. The stretches and balance exercises have also helped – especially the ones you showed me that I can do every day on my own in addition.
 

                I have gained confidence in my own resilience and abilities after worrying that I would have to leave graduate school and give up on my career goals. I directly attribute this to you and to horse therapists Guinness (Salle de Francais), Trysta (Arabian), and, especially, Madison (Registered American Quarter Horse).

What are your MS flare recovery goals? As you improve, what will be the specific signs of improvement?
               
 My recovery goals from this past flare are to regain control, coordination, and strength in my right leg/side. As I have improved the greatest signs have been my ability to lift my leg, climb the mounting block independently, dismount independently, and increase awareness of my right foot.
                I did not think the proprioception issues with the right foot would improve, but they have! The practice of using the stirrups has helped with learning how to compensate and have new ways of knowing what my right foot is doing.
 
Proprioception: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprioception
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The cerebellum is largely responsible for coordinating the unconscious aspects of proprioception.
Proprioception (/ˌproʊprioʊˈsɛpʃən, -priə-/PRO--o-SEP-shən), meaning "one's own", "individual", to take or grasp, is the sense of the relative position of one's own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.
of one's own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.
 
 
Does stretching help or hurt?
                Helps. Always.
 
I have hardwood floors in my home, and we could practice ballet exercises here which I hope would strengthen your troublesome leg? I could even buy a portable barre. Interested?
               
I am very interested. 
 
Are we attempting to hold back further development of MS, or to cure it or diminish it? Please list in order of urgency the MS symptoms we want to address. 
               
We are attempting to hold back further development of MS and diminish its symptoms.
 
As the axons of nerves demyelinate,
 
Demyelination is the loss of the myelin sheath insulating the nerves,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myelin#Demyelination

The best way to preserve them is stress and – many people use the phrase “use it or lose it” in terms of demyelinated nerves. Unfortunately, as I heal from each flare this can be a very painful process. Luckily, this time the pain diminished over time. The major symptoms to focus on are:
  • strength (especially the right leg)
  • Muscle tension/spasms
  •  Right foot proprioception
  •   prickling sensation
  •                 Fatigue/Concentration
  •  Postural Issues from compensating for weakness 
  •  Depression/Anxiety
 
You did a brave, brave thing when you rode the working walk. How did the working walk affect your MS? 

                Besides exhaustion, the increased movement of the working walk (and now the trot!) have not affected my MS as much as it is just exhausting. The exhaustion is of a good kind. It tells me that I am getting stronger and pushing myself in the ways I need in order to not eventually become . Occasionally, I will have noticed increased muscle tension after riding the Working Walk and Trot that does not seem to alleviate after stretching, but I know stretching is helping. It’s the same tension that comes from any challenging physical exertion.




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