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Managing Chronic Illness in the Equestrian Sports

June 8, 2019

Equestrians managing chronic illness whilst trying to participate or train in the equestrian sports is a difficulty that is still quite taboo in the horse world. K and T Creations happens to have a deeply rooted passion for shedding light on the trials that chronic illness and chronic pain will surely bring. Taylor Hoover, the "T" in K and T, lives with Lyme disease. Lyme disease has dramatically affected Taylor's participation in equestrian sports, although you may never know it judging by her constant dedication to equestrian and livestock disciplines. In order to shed light on such a personal matter, I asked her a few questions about life with Lyme, and she was kind enough to provide responses that may help those in similar situations. 

 

1. What is your ailment? 

A: Lyme Disease

 

2. How has it affected your involvement in the Equestrian Sports?

 A: Taylor competed in the Equestrian Sports in college, while symptoms from the Lyme disease served as seemingly immutable obstacles. Extreme brain fog would cause Taylor to forget necessary and basic information, like how to tack up a horse for example. Taylor was also severely temperature sensitive, so she missed many riding lessons when conditions were likely to cause an adverse reaction. Amidst her other symptoms, Taylor developed dyslexia in college. Reading and writing were always a staple skill for Taylor. She had always been advanced in both areas, but her own brain sabotaged these skills. It left her in a whirlpool of her own emotions, surrounded by feelings of embarrassment and a sense of helplessness.

 

3. What are some coping methods you've used to function properly?

 A: Taylor used horses as her therapy. Not only did they bring her a sense of peace, but the act of driving to her lessons and being able to maintain muscle memory while on the horse allowed her a sense of control over her life. There weren't many factors of her life she could control, how her body would act and react to certain situations certainly wasn't one of them. Maintaining the ability to drive to her lessons allowed her to nurse a healthy sense of stability and independence in a world that appeared to be denying her of both of those qualities. The takeaway here is that you should find something you can do a majority of the time, even amidst pain or illness, and stick to it. Do it well and do it often. Be passionate about it! Even if the action is as mundane as driving to a riding lesson. It's your life and you need to make sure you seize it in whatever way possible. This may take some creativity, but it's essential to not just surviving, but reclaiming your life from chronic illness or pain. 

 

4. Any advice for others?

A: Taylor had some basic advice for others regarding Lyme disease in particular. This advice can be summed up in three main points. 

  • Lyme disease can affect both people and horses, and is the fastest growing disease in the world. Stay vigilant. For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage on Lyme Disease: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html:

  • Chronic Illness/Pain and Lyme disease sufferers may feel isolated because of their ailments. Please understand that it is the opposite! Managing a life with chronic illness/pain allows you to create relationships with people you may have never met otherwise. It is a surprisingly supportive community. 

  • Look on the bright side. Always. 

Managing life with chronic illness/pain is a theme that will be reappearing in the next few weeks with some helpful additions from other team members with unique difficulties. Please stay tuned, and as always, thanks for reading!

 

 

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