In November of 2017, I was diagnosed with genu varum or better known as bowleggedness. It means that the bones in my legs are bowed outward rather than straight. On top of this, I have a medial rotation of my kneecaps, aka my knees turn inwards. The combination of these two things makes things like walking and standing for long periods of time very painful. Long story short, regular everyday things are painful for me if it requires me to be on my feet. Sadly, the only way to truly fix either or both of these problems in big surgeries and if I get just one, that doesn’t guarantee that I won’t need the other.
Over the course of the past year, this pain has started to leak into my riding. I couldn’t ride more than 30-45 minutes at a time without considerably long breaks in between. With my wanting to become more competitive, add more horses to my string, and become a better rider, this pain was a big roadblock holding me back. Most of the time, I would try to push through the pain, but at some point, enough becomes enough. Taking time off was not an option for me, so I had to figure out a system to help me be my best and avoid pain.
After much research and discussions with my doctor, we decided to try physical therapy with bracing and a really cool pair of stirrups from MDC Stirrups. The stirrups have a wide tread that allows for more stability as well as a swiveling top that turns to 45º or 90º. By having the top that turns, it helps to reduce the rotation of the knee/ankle needed to keep the foot straight. In my opinion, it is genius. With my physical therapist, I do exercises tailored to me and my needs that help to build up muscles in my legs. By building the muscles up, it helps to keep everything in place and not hitting any other bones, tendons, ligaments, etc, leading to less pain. When I ride, I also tape my knees with kinesiology tape. The tape, though it seems like it doesn’t do anything, actually helps to connect muscles and give them support. In doing so, it helps the muscles work more efficiently and makes it so they do not fatigue as easily. After working for about 2 months I have seen some improvement and hope to see more in the future as I continue to work towards getting better.
For me, it has been one tough road. Luckily I have a great group of people that support me. Huge thanks goes out to my orthopedist for seeing my dream and helping me to keep going for it without hurting myself, my parents, my best friend Kelsey for sticking with my crazy self, my trainers Valarie and Lauren for being so understanding of when I need breaks during lessons, and for my patient horse Liam for not trying to buck me off… for the most part. I am pretty sure he enjoys those walk breaks just as much as I do. And a big shoutout to all those other kick-butt equestrians that don’t let hiccups in their life keep them from doing what they love, keep being awesome.
If you ever have questions about anything I mentioned in this article or just need someone to talk to about your own hiccups, feel free to DM me @equestrian.syd on instagram!
Until next time preps,
Sydney & The Ponies