Riding and the Menopause

Jellymoon

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In this new spirit of openness, I thought I’d ask how any of you ladies have coped with having horses through the menopause?.
In particular, coping with the increased anxiety coupled with still riding, competing, dealing with young horses, backing horses etc. How many of you have pushed on through the fear and panic attacks and come out the other side just as brave and confident as you were before? Or is it best to admit defeat and trade the sports horses and the eventing dreams in for a safe plod. (Please not yet!)
Also, how the heck did you cope with watching your kids flinging themselves and their feisty ponies round the countryside during the menopause ? My teenage daughter now wants to event, and my hormones are screaming ‘no way, can’t cope with that’ and my rational side says,’ well, that’s what you do, so you can’t stop her!’
The physical symptoms are not too bad, can pretty much ignore them, it’s the mental symptoms I’m struggling with. The ‘what if that happens’ when I’m at the yard on my own, or getting on a fresh horse. Is this just a phase and will my normal self return? Because I quite liked her, she was quite cool (or thought she was) and had many years of riding fun left in her, still dreamt of being interviewed by Claire Balding one day….Not so keen on this new version, reminds me of my mum….horror!!!
 

Fransurrey

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I already have a safe plod. He's a little too safe if anything (you could reverse a truck into him and he'd just shrug it off). Anxiety is through the roof. I'm only mid-40s so could have another ten years of this crap.
 

Kat

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There was a really interesting segment on Radio 2 about perimenopause on 20th July. It should be available on the sounds app still. It was part of the Jeremy Vine Show and started at about 13.05.

There is an app called balance for logging menopause symptoms to help you get the necessary help from your GP.

I'm not quite there yet, but was following with interest as my best friend is struggling with peri symptoms but the GP doesn't believe her.
 

Red-1

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I have no idea how to tackle it...

This was me before perimenopause...

Fearless...

223291895_566983187981185_7647803635446527047_n.jpg
Competing a very hot mare too...

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Then it hit, this was during, and despite doing nothing higher than 100 once perimenopause started, I burst into tears before this XC as I thought the 100 course was too much risk for my beloved horse. In fact, we never jumped higher than 90 after, despite 100 being a breeze for him!

223113066_503326050765953_5329535606481383206_n.jpg

Then... It got worse! I simply stopped enjoying it. I started to just do dressage, and often wore a body protector at that!!!

Then, when mum was ill as well, I stopped enjoying even that, sold my posh horse and bought an old cob. I have spent the last 6 months simply walking the countryside!

225932916_4238724306217913_2728445004020850513_n.jpg

If anyone has a 'cure' I would like to know it. Much as I love Rigsby and our wanderings, I would really like to go back to at least the rider who enjoyed BE100!

I scratch my head in wonderment at how I changed. I was the one who was put on the bucking broncs, because I had a velcro bum and could generally train them not to do it. Now, my innards would do a back flip!!!

Thank goodness for Rigsby.
 

HelenBack

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I'm very interested in this conversation because I'm 47 and am also starting to struggle with symptoms associated with the perimenopause. I'm slightly different to you in that I no longer compete and don't have young horses etc. My horse is a happy and mostly safe hacker and when he does prat about it's in a fairly entertaining way so I still find that quite funny. I do think I would still be up for eventing too but my horse has arthritis, hence why we don't do it anymore, and he was rock solid when we did do XC so I never really had to worry anyway.

My issue is with anxiety to do with things going wrong physically with the horse. As I said he's got arthritis and I'm always panicking and worrying about things going wrong with him and so soon as anything does happen I plunge into misery and fear the worst. If there are 9 positives and 1 negative I focus on the negative. I frequently feel tearful and am irritated by my other half just because he's cheerful.

I do wonder if it's all menopause in my case as I've always been a bit of a negative thinker and I don't think COVID has helped any of us, but I do think I generally feel more low and flat than I used to.

I don't have kids so I can't help with that but on speaking to my GP and reading up on it more women seem to suffer with the psychological effects as opposed to the physical ones so we're clearly not alone.

I'm considering HRT and am probably going to give it a go. The women I know who have tried it so far have found it to be helpful. If anybody else had tried it and found it helpful or has any other good coping tips I'd be very interested to hear them.
 

Kat

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Oh god @Red-1 that bit about thinking even a 90 is too much risk for your horse is ringing bells.

I haven't competed or hunted in ages and keep making excuses based on risk to my horse. I have never been a brave competitor but we did enjoy low level stuff, pleasure rides and following the bloodhounds. Now I can't drag myself out, maybe it is age/hormones rather than laziness and bad habits post lockdown.
 

Cowpony

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Do you know, I never realised the two things were linked!? I used to jump 2'9" courses but gradually started to prefer keeping my feet on the ground, so haven't jumped at all for a couple of years. I do affiliated dressage now, so always have the excuse that I'm riding in a dressage saddle and that's horrible to jump in! But I've just taken on a new loan pony who needs a bit of variety so I may need to put my brave pants back on.......
 

Red-1

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Oh god @Red-1 that bit about thinking even a 90 is too much risk for your horse is ringing bells.

I haven't competed or hunted in ages and keep making excuses based on risk to my horse. I have never been a brave competitor but we did enjoy low level stuff, pleasure rides and following the bloodhounds. Now I can't drag myself out, maybe it is age/hormones rather than laziness and bad habits post lockdown.
I was in a good position after dressage and SJ, horse was well able to do the course, but a couple of people had issues and falls. Before, that would merely have irritated me from the perspective of being held up while the course was clear, but suddenly it welled up, and at one point I refused to go XC!

Fortunately Mr Red had gone that day, due to be progressively getting more wimpy, and he told me that he didn't mind if I never ran again, but I had entered, we were ready, and by god I was going to do it. Of course, he romped home, but I never did that height again!

I am just in menopause now, as opposed to perimenopause, and I hope it will change!

ETA - Even worse, the horse did 10 double clears in a row, apart from the big fat E on his record, where I totally missed a fence out. I had perimenopause brain too. No memory. Awful!

On the bright side, the cob inherited some very nice tack, lovely arena and stable, a Bloomfields lorry, and a mother who has retained most of her knowledge. Not bad to say he just strolls round the village once in a blue moon!
 
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teapot

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Peri-menopausal here (most likely according to my GP, consultant not convinced given I'm 34! and the brain fog has ruined my riding...
 

Upthecreek

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I think your ability to push on through your fear and anxiety depends on the previous experience/resilience you have to draw on, the support you have around you, as well as your personality type. I have always been a worrier and I have to try really hard not to dwell on everything that could possibly go wrong about pretty much everything. That’s quite normal for me, possibly made worse by perimenopause, but it’s how I’ve always been. However if you are not like that until perimenopause hits you I can see how it would be harder to overcome as you don’t have a lifetime of experience at dealing with those feelings to draw on.

Regarding riding, though I am often plagued by worry and self-doubt, particularly now I’m getting on a bit, I see it as a personal challenge to do whatever I’m afraid of because not trying just makes me feel like a failure.
 

Hackback

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I had a medical at work and mentioned to the (very young) female doctor that when I'd found out my bloods revealed I'd definitely gone right through the change I was very disappointed because I though I'd have started to feel more like my old self by now. She replied with a smile 'oh no, completely different set of hormones now'. At the time I was just shocked but now I want to go back and punch her smug face (virtually of course, I wouldn't do it IRL ... I don't think 🤔 )

Some women talk about menopause being liberating but I can honestly say I haven't experienced that at all yet, still hoping though. I miss my old hormones.
 

Jumoro

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Anxiety was an issue for me during perimenopause - initially I had no idea there was a link. I eventually started hrt for other symptoms and it really helped with the anxiety. I took a break from hrt last year (young GP wanted to see if I could be "weaned off it") and the anxiety returned with a vengeance. Suffice to say it was a short-lived experiment and I am now back on hrt, feeling like my normal self again and I've have just started schooling at 90, which is the biggest I've ever jumped (I'm a slow learner lol).
 

Rowreach

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Have to say I'm really enjoying my safe but oh so much fun cob - after years of starting and producing young horses, and schooling other people's dodgy ones, I had quite forgotten how much fun it is to be able to ride a horse that wants to look after you, wants to go out and have fun, and has a bit of self preservation too.

I am quite happy for the gung-ho version of Rowreach to stay well and truly away.
 

Upthecreek

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I had a medical at work and mentioned to the (very young) female doctor that when I'd found out my bloods revealed I'd definitely gone right through the change I was very disappointed because I though I'd have started to feel more like my old self by now. She replied with a smile 'oh no, completely different set of hormones now'. At the time I was just shocked but now I want to go back and punch her smug face (virtually of course, I wouldn't do it IRL ... I don't think 🤔 )

Some women talk about menopause being liberating but I can honestly say I haven't experienced that at all yet, still hoping though. I miss my old hormones.
Yes I think it’s important to accept being a different version of yourself rather than it being just a phase you are going through and then you will go back to ‘normal’.
 

MiJodsR2BlinkinTite

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I'm 60 now and started going through the "peri" at about 45 I seem to remember.

During the years of "the Change" I had to look after my ageing mother, at home, on my own, and that totally crucified me. Could have done without it! The most difficult period for any woman has got to be menopause and here I was stuck on my Todd with someone who could be sooohh damned difficult; I was having hot flushes and panic attacks and unfortunately got to the stage where physically I couldn't cope with the pressure either mental or physical of looking after mum anymore (and I was screaming out to my local doctor's surgery and other professionals, and got diddly squat help from anyone), so I had to put her in a home for the last 10 months of her life which I still feel incredibly guilty about. Ohh and I was coping with horses at home (mine) and running a livery yard at the same time as all this was happening. If I said it wasn't easy that's a huge understatement!

However, things DO pan out. It is all behind me now; sometimes I'm as stiff as a board and have to remember to keep taking various vitamin supplements. I took on my first-ever youngster 4 yrs ago when I was 57. It was terrifying! But I did have the professional support of the person who'd backed her and that was invaluable. I've also in the last two years bought my first-ever trailer! We've had some fun with my little pony! A little bit scary towing on my own for the first time, and again, I did have support - and we got there!!

When mum died I needed a job, and landed a lovely job at a local college (which has equine as part of the curriculum!). I love being among young people - great to be with young enquiring minds!! I need this, and value it!

Ohhhhh - just one hint for "ladies of a certain age". Never repeat never accept an invite to ride-out with someone half your age. You will end up totally WRECKED! Guaranteed. But you'll love it!!
 

The Fuzzy Furry

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I have no idea how to tackle it...

I scratch my head in wonderment at how I changed. I was the one who was put on the bucking broncs, because I had a velcro bum and could generally train them not to do it. Now, my innards would do a back flip!!!
This
Is
me!

I'm v happy tootling or ragging around the countryside, doing hacking, camps, staying with friends, doing v low key SJ and xc, but......

I look longingly back with rose tinted specs at the days when I did a whole lot (a huge whole lot!) more, but when am asked to step outside my current 'safe' zone by a friend or coach I often curl up or decide its time to finish.

Current mount is sharp but not silly-dangerous, just forward thinking-going and likes being active.
 

Bluewaves

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The main thing for me is increased anxiety over minor things. I was always a 'careful' rider so that much hasn't changed. My fitness isn't what it was either.

But I stress now over stupid things like not getting him clean enough when i wash him. I was never that sort of person before.
 

samleigh

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i'm 50 this year & the have been feeling like this for the last 2yrs. Even in the car I look at things my horse could potentially spook/find worrying and she isn't even within 10 miles of where I am, she's in her field FGS !!!
She is currently on Box Rest/field rest for 12 weeks, the thought of getting back on and dealing with rehab walking is making me feel really anxious, she's never done anything wrong either, despite being a young TB mare. I was also one who would ride anything/jump anything, ride 7 days a week if I could.
 

Jellymoon

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Wow, I’m not alone, I’m not alone!! Isn’t it so great that we can talk about these things so openly now? Thank you for responding to my thread.
I think two things I’m getting from this: to let your old self go, but not completely…sensible choices with what to ride and when, but also to keep pushing yourself out of the comfort zone so you don’t end up being someone you aren’t and feeling rubbish about that.
I think I’m not going to give up on the idea of carrying on competing, but perhaps I need more help. Someone who can help me on the ground and also ride the horses with me too so I’m not on my own all the time. My daughter is around in the hols, which is good, but she doesn’t really get it and I don’t want to transfer my irrational thoughts onto her. I don’t want to squash her eventing ambitions, but when the time comes for her to have a proper horse it needs to be one I can exercise for her too. So sensible choice needs to be made there, and also some help with that would be good.
 

Jellymoon

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i'm 50 this year & the have been feeling like this for the last 2yrs. Even in the car I look at things my horse could potentially spook/find worrying and she isn't even within 10 miles of where I am, she's in her field FGS !!!
She is currently on Box Rest/field rest for 12 weeks, the thought of getting back on and dealing with rehab walking is making me feel really anxious, she's never done anything wrong either, despite being a young TB mare. I was also one who would ride anything/jump anything, ride 7 days a week if I could.
Isn’t it awful? So weird.
 

Jellymoon

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I'm 60 now and started going through the "peri" at about 45 I seem to remember.

During the years of "the Change" I had to look after my ageing mother, at home, on my own, and that totally crucified me. Could have done without it! The most difficult period for any woman has got to be menopause and here I was stuck on my Todd with someone who could be sooohh damned difficult; I was having hot flushes and panic attacks and unfortunately got to the stage where physically I couldn't cope with the pressure either mental or physical of looking after mum anymore (and I was screaming out to my local doctor's surgery and other professionals, and got diddly squat help from anyone), so I had to put her in a home for the last 10 months of her life which I still feel incredibly guilty about. Ohh and I was coping with horses at home (mine) and running a livery yard at the same time as all this was happening. If I said it wasn't easy that's a huge understatement!

However, things DO pan out. It is all behind me now; sometimes I'm as stiff as a board and have to remember to keep taking various vitamin supplements. I took on my first-ever youngster 4 yrs ago when I was 57. It was terrifying! But I did have the professional support of the person who'd backed her and that was invaluable. I've also in the last two years bought my first-ever trailer! We've had some fun with my little pony! A little bit scary towing on my own for the first time, and again, I did have support - and we got there!!

When mum died I needed a job, and landed a lovely job at a local college (which has equine as part of the curriculum!). I love being among young people - great to be with young enquiring minds!! I need this, and value it!

Ohhhhh - just one hint for "ladies of a certain age". Never repeat never accept an invite to ride-out with someone half your age. You will end up totally WRECKED! Guaranteed. But you'll love it!!
This is so encouraging, thank you. You have been through a lot and hats off to you for persevering. Even though the horses are a cause for anxiety at times, they are also our sanity, right?
 

Hepsibah

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I'm 48 and I haven't been able to ride out at all during this heatwave. I create enough heat all on my own so the sunshine makes it close to impossible. I used to love sunny summer hacking, now I wish for clouds. :(
 

Jellymoon

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I’m also wondering how much Covid has affected those of us struggling with this. Perhaps we have got so used to not doing as much with our horses that we’ve got comfortable. The thought of pushing yourself out again is quite hard isn’t it. You build scenarios in your head. And it’s somehow easier just to stay home in the garden with the OH.
And what’s wrong with that?
Nothing, other than it gets really boring. And I’m 40 something, not 80 something. Not ready for gardening yet.
I do want to be safe though, I don’t want to risk myself too much as I like my life and want to see the kids grow up, but surely it’s not too much risk to do some low level competing on a nice horse?
Do you think lots of women give up on things (not just riding) during the menopause and end up feeling a bit frustrated for the rest of their lives?
 

exracehorse

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I’ve been going through the menopause for past 7 months. Hot flushes. Night sweats. Haven’t slept for nearly a year. My anxiety has gone through the roof. Plus feel super tired a lot. It’s draining physically and emotionally. And I have a baby that’s just been backed to continue her education plus two others to exercise and my sharer has left. I’m already stressing about the winter and could quite honestly get rid of the lot. Two are retired so I have five in total and am all by myself at the yard. I work as a cleaner and my back was really bad yesterday.
 

The Fuzzy Furry

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I’m also wondering how much Covid has affected those of us struggling with this. Perhaps we have got so used to not doing as much with our horses that we’ve got comfortable. The thought of pushing yourself out again is quite hard isn’t it. You build scenarios in your head. And it’s somehow easier just to stay home in the garden with the OH.
And what’s wrong with that?
Nothing, other than it gets really boring. And I’m 40 something, not 80 something. Not ready for gardening yet.
I do want to be safe though, I don’t want to risk myself too much as I like my life and want to see the kids grow up, but surely it’s not too much risk to do some low level competing on a nice horse?
Do you think lots of women give up on things (not just riding) during the menopause and end up feeling a bit frustrated for the rest of their lives?
I think I'm the opposite. As soon as any restrictions lifted last year, I went to training, arena hire etc - in fact I *think* I might have done more between May 20 and Jan 21 than in the previous year! I only stopped for 5 days at the start of lockdown 1, then thought blow it, everyone else was running, cycling etc, why shouldn't I hack (at least quietly!)

Closing swiftly in on my 60th, I'm making the most of what I can do and achieve right now. I'll enter things, then make my mind up on the day or night before - usually I'm saying 'no' but force myself to at least load and travel, then feel a sense of achievement when I actually arrive.... bigger achievement when I'm re-loading to come home, blooming shattered once am sitting on the sofa!
 

Dynamo

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Ladies, please don't discount the benefits of HRT. I did. I thought that because I had no physical symptoms I didn't need it. Eventually taking it after much research and encouragement, it has completely changed my riding life for the better. I am not what I was at 30, but no-one is. I am, however, a better version of myself than I was without it and am back out competing again. If you don't get satisfaction from your GP, please refer to Newson Health online for guidance on how to approach things with your GP.
 

The Fuzzy Furry

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Ladies, please don't discount the benefits of HRT. I did. I thought that because I had no physical symptoms I didn't need it. Eventually taking it after much research and encouragement, it has completely changed my riding life for the better. I am not what I was at 30, but no-one is. I am, however, a better version of myself than I was without it and am back out competing again.
I wish, I've gone through 8 years, yes you read that right, 8 years of insomnia, night sweats, heart racing, flushes etc trying to refrain from different foods and drinks etc.
I was refused HRT on 4 separate occasions due to my previous medical history. Sadly, not everyone can have it.
Though am glad for the majority that they can have it and it makes a difference.
 
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