Riding Dressage with a Labral Tear, Part 1

A long long (very long) time ago, I injured myself on a run. The pain was, I'll be honest, pretty freaking bad. It was a sharp pain right where my thigh connected to my body at the groin. Doctors told me I'd pulled my adductor, and to rest for several weeks. Being young and stupid, I rested for about 3 days, then took up every form of exercise that didn't cause too much pain. I also continued to ride for my college equestrian team. This action required my team members to bodily lift me onto the horse, as lifting my leg over the back was excruciating.
Pretty sure this is me at the exact show where I had to be lifted on the horse to compete. Yay IHSAA Equestrian.
The acute pain of the injury eventually resolved. All the swimming and rowing during my recovery allowed me to return to activities fairly easily, though I never was 100% again. Running too much distance too fast could cause my groin to feel weak and liable to tearing again, and every sit up or leg lift I have done since causes a deep popping sensation in my hip. Not painful, but definitely not confidence boosting.

When Pig and I were working hard to break into the mid levels of dressage, I started to realize how much my hip issues were holding me back. I needed to be obsessive about stretching my hip flexors, or my right hip would fall back and block my horse. My abdominal muscles had to be absurdly strong just to hold my position in the sitting trot, much less apply an aid. This strength building was tough, but I did it.
I had, like, and 8 pack here. Honestly, we both did. I'm not sure how either of us made this level of competition work. Mostly just coasted through on wishes and hopes and sheer willpower. Also wine.
Cut to retiring my Piggy, and bringing home Bast. Suddenly I wasn't sitting the trot for hours and hours a week. Instead I was barely riding, and mostly posting the trot when I did get on. My training toolbox was expanding, but my hard-won stability muscles were wasting away. A year in, the problems started. A niggling little strain here, or pain there, would crop up. I tried to get back into running or lifting, but it seemed every workout led to an injury and rest period. Finally last spring I sprained my damn ankle without even falling off my horse. My weight just unexpectedly shifted, my stability didn't hold, and POP my tendon gave.

That injury was really the last straw. I knew I needed to seek help. I started with asking my doctor for an MRI. I'd suspected for years that I had a significant issue within my right hip relating to the college injury of years past. A quick bout of imaging later, and my suspicions were confirmed. I have a significant labral tear in the right side of my hip, along with a bit of tendinitis and other minor issues relating to the tear.
Of course I also never stopped riding, even with my sprained ankle. I just lengthened my stirrups and grinned through the pain. Because I'm actually the worst.
My doctor at the time wanted me to pursue physical therapy before looking into other treatments. I did a couple of months, but didn't see any real response. I was too nervous about fighting for my health to really move forward at that time. Unfortunately a few more injuries and false starts left me reconsidering my options.

A significant bout with sciatica pain finally forced my return to the doctor (a different one this time), and I was reissued a physical therapy order. I took my order to a different therapist, and everything changed…

More on my journey and how this injury relates to my riding coming soon!


  1. Ouch!! Soft tissue injuries are the worst. You hurt your knee one time and it's never the same for your entire life.

  2. I've been reading up on Labral tears and slipped discs (my mom has them) the science has been interesting, I hope that you found some amazing relief!


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