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Managing Chronic Illness in the Equestrian Sports Pt. II

A few weeks ago, I posted an interview with Taylor about the impact of Lyme disease on her involvement in equestrian sports. We figured that the more we can shed light on an equestrian lifestyle marred with chronic illness or pain, the more others will benefit. This was the driving force behind this week's follow-up post featuring team members, Emily Martin and Mercedes Bennington. Take a look!

1. What is your ailment?

E: I suffer from chronic migraines. I've had them since December 2016.


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

E: It has really put a damper on my involvement with equestrian sports. I had previously been into barrel racing for 18 years and I was also into long trail rides. Now I've had to retire from barrel racing and my trail rides have become shorter and less frequent. I took last year off from showing period. This year I have started showing in things like horsemanship and trail classes. So I still get to be involved with equestrian sports, it's just a completely different avenue.

M:The biggest help is KT tape. EDS makes my joints super loose, regular braces do not always help keep my joints in place so KT tape helps hold them in place. I also take pain killers as needed. This is just a bandage on the situation.

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

E: I'm really into essential oils. They have helped me be able to keep my migraines at a more controlled level. I also have a chiropractor, acupuncturist, and I get massage sometimes.Oh, wearing a helmet seems to help my not get a migraine when I'm riding.

M: it affects me a good bit actually. I get injured more easily. But I try and make it work in my favor the best I can! I use my flexibility to do tricks with horses. But, it also limits me depending on how bad my joints are that day and if my joints fall out of socket. Sometimes I can just be walking a horse and something can call out of place. I also have a high pain tolerance. So if I do get injured I will not know for awhile which can be dangerous when working with horses. When riding or working a horse, I always have to tell myself to stop favoring to one side. I always favor my right side since that’s the side I have had 4 surgeries on. This can be dangerous specially in the saddle if I am leaning more left than right. It’s just small things like that I have to keep reminding myself.

4. Any advice for others?

E: My advice to anyone suffering from migraines or anything else would be to just take your time and regroup. Just because you can't do one thing doesn't mean you can't try something new. So just look at it as a new challenge and try to be positive.

M: my advice would be, find a good EDS specialist for sure. You will have good days and bad days (more bad than good) Be positive and don’t let this keep you from living the dream and doing what you love. It’s not going to be easy but it’s worth it.