I have been misunderstood on several points (probably my fault).
1. I meant to say...(and I think I did say, but I am not sure and
probably not these exact words) "I would not recommend painkillers as a
long term solution to the pain CAUSED by endurance riding." A better way
to reduce the pain caused by extreme physical exertion is to reduce the
I did not say (at least I don't think so) that painkillers should not be
used for alleviating the chronic pain from injuries or illnesses of the past.
2. I mentioned in my post script, that I had never used painkillers
myself, not to demonstrate that I am tough or that pain killers are bad,
but rather to show that this viewpoint was coming from someone who had
never had to deal with severe pain...and therefore was as substantially
biased viewpoint. (Yes, I have been lucky.)
3. I am not rabidly anti pain killers. If I ever have to have my
appendix out, I want to be doped up to the eyeballs. But at the same
time, I'm not going to ride endurance right after the operation. I am
going to let my body heal (don't know what I would do if my body never
would heal...hopefully, nothing to cause it further damage).
Oddly enough, I used to be of the school of "going on in the face of
pain" and "don't let the pain stop you from doing the things you want"
until I started riding endurance and working with horses.
I have seen the long term damage that is done to horses who are asked to
persist in the face of pain, for the sake of competition. We have rules
in endurance riding that says we aren't allowed to administer pain
killers to our horses as it is not in the best interests of the horse.
And then I discovered...it is probably not in my best interests to
persist in the face of my pain either.
Having my property next door to "the killer" allows me to see the fate of
countless horses who have been "over ridden" and are now considered
useless as riding horses. Having 200 acres of fenced pasture, I have had
the opportunity to "try to find homes for" countless horses, who just
have too much traffic on them, and are not 100% sound. These horses are
hard to place (and some of them are still at my place, eating out their
retirement on my grass; I do NOT begrudge them this).
Having had the opportunity to ski with/against people with knee braces (at
the age of 21) who couldn't walk by the time they were 25....
I can only recommend....don't do it; you'll regret it when you are
older; don't mask the mild pain of today so that you can persist. As the
mild pains of today, if ignored, become the chronic pains of
tomorrow...which can't be masked but have to be lived with.
I cannot agree with whoever it was who said that endurance riding is not
physically taxing. If it weren't, the original question ("how do I avoid
feeling the next day as though I had been hit by a truck?") would never
have been asked.
I have now come to the point in my own training, conditioning, competing,
etc. to where I ask myself, "If I were my horse, would I ask myself to do
this?" If the answer is, "no" then I figure I shouldn't be doing it
either. I would never compete in endurance with a horse on painkillers;
which doesn't mean that I would never use painkillers on my horse (THAT
would be inhumane!)
If you choose (for whatever reason) to use painkillers on yourself during
an endurance ride (I also don't think there ought to be a rule about rider
medication), that is your choice. But I wouldn't recommend it; I've seen
what it does to horses, and I've seen what it does to people. Rarely ever
does it lead to a happy, pain-free life--like mine has (admittedly) been
so far. I'd like to keep mine that way.
Ironically, I have found that the best way to keep my life pain-free is
to avoid painkillers. Painkillers are a great way to let your little
pains become BIG pains.
I don't ever want to get to the point where I need painkillers just to
get up in the morning. For those of you who are already at that point, I
can only say I am sorry, but I am glad I'm not you.
Orange County, Calif.