Do you have a horse?

I had mastectomy with lymph removal 2 months ago. Would like to hear from anyone who has had similar and has a horse to look after. I am looking for advice as to how long before you got back in the saddle and what long-term problems there will be. The Macmillan nurse has painted a pretty bleak picture of never being able to push a full wheelbarrow, not being able to lift hay bales and water buckets etc and, as my horse is my life, it is pretty depressing. Any advice and tips on how to manage things differently will be greatly appreciated.

Hi Summer Storm, I am not a horsey person I know there are several ladies on here who ride and who keep horses/ponies and continue to to enjoy that after mx, ANC, chemo and rads. Hopefully one of them will be along soon. I know that DJ007 still posts now and then, and she is a keen horsewoman. If you sent her a private message, I’m sure she’d be able to reassure you.

Hope you get some helpful replies soon

Hi Summer Storm
Can’t really answer your question completely as still to have MX soon but I have no intention of giving up my horses and the thought had never crossed my mind .
Hopefully somebody will answer soon who has been through this.

Hi Summer Storm.
Again can’t really answer your question as I had WLE,chemo and rads. I am also a horse owner and understand what you mean about horses being such an important part of our lives. Mine helped me get through all the treatment and still do. They are such good therapy.
I’m sure you will be able to ride again soon and care for your horse. It is still early days for you but I’m sure horse owners who have had mastectomies will post to advise you.

Take care x

Hi Summer Storm
When I first had my mx and 8 nodes removed, I went to the lymphodoema clinic and the nurse there said that she knew of women who went rock climbing so I am sure you will be able to lift hay bales and push a wheelbarrow, maybe not with 5 bales on though! lol. It may take a few months but your body will let you know what you can do.

I cannot help with the length pf time as I lost my horse several years before my mx. What I can say is if he was still alive I would have been able to look after him, I might not have the same strength to hold him whilst leading (he was 16.1 and v strong) and would not have wanted to be yanked along but I am sure if you are careful and build up slowly you will be fine.
Enjoy you life as much as you can, bc takes away too much from us if you let it. x

I talked to my surgeon about returning to sailing and all he could come up with was that lots of his ladies went back to horse riding. I think they are all out there riding their horses and not on the forum!
I sounds like the nurse was worried about lymphodema. The only specific advice I have been given is not to lift heavy shopping or luggage with affected arm or dig the garden. I try to lift with the other arm or both arms together. I also reduce the time spent doing heavy stuff like gardening. I was assuming pushing a wheelbarrow was okay! ( You don’t say if it is one or two arms affected).
Reading the forums here about lymphodema, there seems to be a push to avoiding it/managing it by excersise. I try to walk and do the stretching excersises as well to get the lymph stuff going around the body.
If in doubt, I would seek advice from a lyphodema specialist or call the BCC Helpline.
I note you say that your operation is 2 months ago which is still very early for lifting anything but the lightest objects. In a few weeks when the weather improves we should all be back to our much loved sports.
Good luck!

I certainly remember at least two keen horsewomen who were able to enjoy their horses fully post mx.If I remember correctly one of them [about 3 years ago] was back competing a year after dx/surgery/chemo etc.

Thanks everyone, very helpful - gives me hope

Hi There Summer Storm,
I have been on horses since I had my Mastectomy and Treatment Sept 2011, I had full lymph Clearance then a Second Mastectomy in September 2012. On the Looking after them part, I think you just have to be sensible especially with very heavy things, Ask someone to help you, Do Not struggle on thinking OMG I should’nt be doing this. I have to confess I did give myself Lymphodema by doing this so I speak from experience. I have stopped pushing myself to the limit and instead plan my actions a bit better.
Do not give up the things you love , take recovery one day at a time and stay within your comfort zone and you will be fine I am sure.
Just scrubbed out the most disgusting Industrial Oven today, Harder work than any horse, but slowly !
Here’s wishing you and your horse many, many more years of pleasure together, I think it’s even MORE importaint to follow your pleasures once you feel up to it.
Best Wishes Diane

thank you Diane have read a few accounts of people overdoing it and getting lymphodema so realise I do have to be careful and, despite wanting to do everything myself, will just have to accept these changes to my physical ability and get help when necessary. Hard though isn’t it.

Hi Summer Storm

There have been a few threads about horseriding, so I’ll post some links in case they’re helpful:

Best wishes


Hi Summer Storm well done for posting this question I,ve been really worring about this. I have two horses and am due for a mastectomy after I finish my chemo next month.

Thanks everyone for the comments and links. I sat on my horse 2 weeks ago, after he’d been ridden, and walked round with my teacher on hand with the lunge line in case I got nervous and wanted leading round. It was surprisingly worrying after the 7-week break and I am all hunched up in the photos. Storm wasn’t sure what was happening - he was definitely confused. Getting off needed help!
Got on again a week later and felt much more confident and did about 10 minutes, half at trot. He seemed to understand this time and was much more relaxed, probably because I was. I really wanted to canter but knew I couldn’t hold him if he got strong and I’m not taking any silly risks. It was great though and I’m sure I will be able to carry on with some sort of a horsey life during my treatment and recovery but I am going to have him on livery for the duration.
Lovely to read comments from people who understand how important horses are to some of us (why can’t they produce an anti-horse vaccine so we can live normal lives and have money and time to do things!!). The health care professionals I have dealt with are great but have no concept of the sort of life we lead

Good for you Summer Storm long may it continue x x

Now 12 weeks since my operation and have ridden the past few Saturdays but only when my friend has ridden first to gauge his mood. My first chemo cycle hasn’t stopped me enjoying my Saturdays but I only manage about 20 minutes before my energy runs out. My legs are weak too so I have difficulty making him move sideways but being on board is great and I feel much more confident now. Luckily he comes back from canter from voice aids alone so I don’t have to stress my ‘bad’ arm trying to pull him up. I am doing the minor chores if I go to the stables but none of the heavy stuff and now I’m on chemotherapy have to be careful of mud and poo in case of infection and always wear a glove on my ‘bad’ hand. Also have avoided going in this recent cold snap as I am definitely feeling the cold more. Explained my way of life to the oncology consultant who said we can’t live in a bubble and as long as I was really careful the psychological lift from seeing my horse would do me good.
A lovely thing – my friend who gave me the horse has just booked a week’s holiday in N Wales for her, her husband, 2 dogs and me a month after my radiation treatment finishes. My consultant thinks this is good too. She has booked a lovely cottage in private grounds of a big country house and has also booked us three lessons at a nearby dressage horse stud (which comes highly recommended by her boss at work) where we can ride classically trained Lusitano horses – not something you can usually do. Really excited. All I have to pay for is my food and any personal expenses, she is treating me to the rest and it is to give me something to get out exercising for and to look forward to. I can do as little or as much as I like for the week. Such a lovely thought, I am SO lucky.