Horseback riding is a demanding sport, there’s no denying it.
How do you do it with lungs that occasionally function on less than half capacity?
Not only is there the part of actively riding the horse, which demands active breathing on the part of the rider, but also all the hours of care around it. Asthma is not helpful with that.
Lifting heavy items, grooming and tacking up, trudging back and forth many times from pasture to barn. Pushing wheelbarrows. Handling feed buckets and heavy hay. Sweeping, toting tack around. Bending. Lifting. Twisting.
The past several months have been a challenge. My hay mold allergy turned serious. A couple of different inhalers each day could no longer keep the wheezing at bay. Same story last year, mentioned in this post – Horse Fun & Health Fail.
Sort of creeps up on you, too. With so much else to take care of, what’s a little tightening of the chest? First, breathing on a day-to-day basis becomes very labored. Then, the throat feels constricted, all the time. The rescue inhaler no longer seems to be working.
Soon there’s a feeling of fatigue, all day. Less talking, since it’s strenuous and there has to be more pauses for breathing in between. Driving with the seat semi reclined all the time, to give more space for the lungs. Then the hoarseness comes, making it very irritating to speak much at all.
Puffing on the Nebulizer machine no longer creates any shakiness – the lungs are getting too inflamed to let much of the medication in.
When little stabbing knives set in over your back, it’s time to change strategy and trudge back to the asthma doctor and call in the oral steroids.
Any time spent horsing around makes me very happy, so of course cutting it out completely is not really an option.
Helpful Hints – Anyone feel free to chime in with more!!
- Grooming horses outdoor only, minimizing inhaling dust.
- Using a face mask during any dust inducing activity. (I faint in temperatures of 90 F with a mask so, well, as much as can anyway.)
- Watering the arena again between horses if doing a second ride.
- Giving up on all sweeping. Seriously.
- Stepping out if stalls are being cleaned.
- Avoiding the worst trigger, hay in my case, – my friend is handling the hay for me now.
- Use a spacer for the inhalers, especially with the steroids, as they can make the vocal cords really suffer and make things feel even worse.
- Super important for me – continue running in some form. Many years of competing in long distance running has given me great lung capacity. Keeping it up in some way, even during bad asthma bouts, really helps. I just make sure to do it in air conditioning at home, and use the inhaler before and after.
Other than the past months less fun asthma antics – things are just fantastic! Valiosa is starting to feel even better under saddle and steadier in the contact. Yesterday we also got out on a road exploring a bit, way too rough gravel to do again, but she was very brave.
Still working on the true forward button. This is not it, in the free walk.
And the summer heat goes on, and on.