Multiple Sclerosis and Therapeutic Riding

Multiple Sclerosis and Therapeutic Riding

Reprinted from NARHA Strides magazine, April 1997 (Vol. 3, No. 2)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an illness diagnosed in over 350,000 persons in the U.S. today. MS is that it is signified by more than one (multiple) areas of inflammation and scarring of the myelin in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin is the tissue that covers and protects our nerve fibers. When this occurs, nerve “communication” is disrupted. The cause of multiple sclerosis is not yet known. There is no one group of people who “get” MS.  Considered a lifelong disorder, trends show that MS often strikes between the ages of 30 and 50, and mostly women. MS is not considered a fatal, contagious or directly hereditary illness, although a susceptibility to MS may be inherited.

Medical Considerations for Therapeutic Riding
By Liz Baker, PT, Medical Committee Chairman
Multiple Sclerosis is one of a growing number of diseases that has a dual identity in therapeutic riding: it can be both an indication for riding, and a precaution or contraindication. This duality, an apparent contradiction, is created by the type of symptoms and problems caused by the disease; its signs and symptoms can be improved by therapeutic riding, worsened by riding, or even preclude riding altogether. In general, however, people with MS are often good candidates for riding, and this activity can help retain functional ability on and off the horse.