Selma Blair praises animal therapy for helping her ‘grow with self love’ following MS diagnosis

Katie O'Malley

Selma Blair has credited horseback riding for helping her “grow with self love” amid her ongoing battle with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The actor, best known for her performances in Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde and Hellboy, revealed in October 2018 that she’d been diagnosed with MS two months previously.

The chronic condition can affect the brain and spinal cord, leading to symptoms including problems with vision, muscle spasms and fatigue, the NHS states.

On Thursday, the star posted a photograph on Instagram of herself with her horse Sky Top and explained how animal therapy can provide relief to people living with chronic illnesses.

In the photo’s caption, Blair said her trainer found her horse when she was struggling after the birth of her son, and that the animal has kept her feeling motivated.

“We only had a short time before I couldn’t even get to him or stay on,” she said of her first few encounters with the horse.

“But he has come so far. And even though I may seem like I have gone farther away, I am learning and getting healthier. Even as I get seemingly sicker,” Blair wrote.

While she is currently unable to ride the horse due to her illness, the actor said she is determined to ride the animal again.

“Affording horse shows will require some major work opportunities ahead,” she added.

Several of Blair’s followers have commented on her post praising her determination and courage.

“You are such an incredible inspiration,” wrote one user.

Another wrote: “Yes! You will ride again.”

“Sorry Selma, I’ve got no words, just tears,” added another.

According to the Mayo Clinic, animal-assisted therapy uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders.

In 2017, the Royal College of Nursing drew up guidelines for medical institutions on how to use animal therapy safely and effectively, so all patients who might benefit are able to access it.

Earlier this year, Blair opened up about her MS diagnosis, saying that when she learnt the diagnosis, she cried “tears of knowing I now had to give in to a body that had loss of control”.

Blair told TV broadcaster Robin Roberts on Good Morning America that she’d unknowingly been experiencing symptoms of MS since the birth of her son in July 2011, and that she self-medicated when her son wasn’t with her.

“You just have to, you can’t do it all,” the actor said. ”It’s fine to feel really crappy, and my son gets it, and now I’ve learnt not to feel guilty.”