Getting back in the saddle

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Lilymary
Lilymary Member Posts: 1,740

A few of the regulars on here may be aware of my tortuous recovery after hip replacement in April 2021 ("New Hip Day"). I still have muscle weakness which affects my balance, and more particularly a very grumpy psoas tendon which shouts loudly if I lift my knee any higher than required to go up stairs, and I have to lift it with my hands to get into bed or the car etc. The medics occasionally give the tendon a tweak but sadly it's not looking hopeful for a complete and permanent solution.

But by heck, I'm bored with waiting for it to recover. So with my surgeon's permission, and at the age of 63, I'm resurrecting one of my greatest pleasures, horse riding. I haven't ridden a great deal since my youth, and not at all for about 7 years for various reasons, not least my rubbish hip for the last 3 of them. So I rang the stable, told them my story, and asked for a slender, bomb proof horse for me to try out. I decided if I couldn't trot on him, I'd just walk round in a circle for 30 mins, and if I couldn't even do that, I'd just cuddle the poor confused lad till time was up (the horse, not the trainer!). I needed a horsey fix one way or another. The stable I chose used to do Riding for the Disabled, so I reckoned they'd be familiar with my potential limitations.

Well, they gave me a short fat cob they keep for older or wonky people like me, and apologised for his fat tummy! My trainer, Anne, is so careful not to push me too far and "do me a mischief". We got me on board via a mounting block (days of swinging on from ground level are well and truly over) and just let me sit there while my body settled into position, to gauge whether this was a go-er or not. Nothing cracked or shrieked, so we put me on a lunge rein for a bit of walking in circles, and even managed a bit of a trot. Legging him on is very painful, and if I lose my stirrup there's no way I'm getting my foot back in without help. But heck, I'm doing it! 😃🐴 After 3 lessons, I'm now trotting off the lunge rein, I can trust my sweet, fat, slightly lazy little cob to look after me, and my dodgy tendon only shouts for a day or two afterwards, then settles down to its normal level of whingeing, which is good enough for me. I had to buy some new kit, as my old stuff either doesn't fit or had disintegrated with age (much like me). So I've got to get my money's worth out of it now!

I'm trying out swimming again next. Not sure what my tendon will do, but my surgeon said I'd "have to get in some pretty weird positions for my hip to dislocate at this stage". All things in moderation, I'm taking it very slow and steady, but wish me luck.


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  • Fif
    Fif Member Posts: 113
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    Fantastic photo! Well done for not giving up and having a go. Your smile says it all! Good luck with the swimming.

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,712
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    Hey, well done you! I'm envious.

    I joined RDA and first rode a horse (as opposed to a seaside donkey!) when I already had two TKRs and one THR. I carried on after the other THR but my surgeon got a bit twitchy after my knee revision so I gave up. It was huge fun while it lasted. Carry on enjoying it all. Just make sure you stay on. I'm sure you're a much better rider than I ever was.

    I love the horse. Keep a good supply of mints and carrots. Nothing quite like a spot of bribery and corruption.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,423
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    Ooooh! Go you @Lilymary I think you have been amazing having had so much to deal with.

    Well done.

    The horse is indeed a tad plumptious😉

    Toni x

  • Jewels
    Jewels Member Posts: 202
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    You go girl @Lilymary enjoy every minute 😁

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,740
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    Well, I survived the swim, just took it gently - I was surprised how much my of confidence had gone (although I’m a rubbish swimmer anyway), and was as stiff as a board this evening, but nothing hurts too badly. Had a lovely chat with two other arthritis warriors in the changing room, it was good to be able to encourage each other. The pool is ideal, small, quiet and lovely and warm. Looks like I may be going again! After a really tough year healthwise and at work, it’s good to take a step back to start putting my battered body back together again.

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,423
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    Sounds like it was a good experience all round meeting other people @Lilymary 😊I reckon you will be back. I desperately miss swimming, but it's my lungs not my bones which are preventing me from going.

    After a tough year indeed you are turning things around👍️

    Love

    Toni x

  • Onebrokelady
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    Well done to you, that is a fat little cob 😀but he looks sweet. This is exactly what I'm hoping to be able to do in the not too distant future, I took up riding again a few years ago after a 30 year break and was ok for a few years but I haven't been able to ride for two years now. Ive just started some treatment that is working really well so I'm hopeful I too will be back in the saddle ASAP

    Good luck with it, you look so happy 😊

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,740
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    @Onebrokelady It was one of my main goals post surgery. I'd almost given up hope but eventually said "blow it, how bad can it get??" and gave it a go. I'm so pleased to have ticked it off. I've had a lot of muscle weakness to work on, and problems with the tendon in my groin (the one that lifts the knee) so we've had to adapt things quite a bit - long stirrups, high mounting blocks etc but my body seems to be getting used to it. Not up to a canter yet - I want to improve my balance first. I'm surprised how vulnerable I feel - I used to throw my leg over random horses pretty fearlessly in the past, but Anne's helping me build my confidence at my own pace, and feeling able to trust her really helps. I hope you'll be back up there really soon. Horses are such good therapy in every sense.

    Just got to get myself up a mountain next (a small one will do for now)! That might take a bit longer ... 😅

  • Ribble
    Ribble Member Posts: 23
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    Well done you! A great photo. I would love to have a go at horse riding. The only saddles I climb onto are bicycles. Your post reminds me of asking a horse riding friend about being able to mount a horse as I’ve had a false hip for a few years and now have knee pain. She said, yes, any time I wanted to try. She has a very calm and gentle nag in the field which I was welcome to try!

    Seeing your photo has given me new enthusiasm to have a go. Thank you.

    Enjoy your rides.

    Barbara

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,712
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    @Ribble , why not see if there is a local RDA (Riding for the Disabled) group near you? By the time I started riding I had two knee and one hip replacements. By the timd I called it a day I'd had both hips replaced and à very old knee replacement also replaced. RDA groups will have mounting blocks. Mine had a wheelchair accessiblw ramp. We walked up, rhe horse stood the othef side and we just dropped down into thw saddle. Before I finished I was using à hoist. A bit scary at first but only for us, the horses are well used to suxh thimgs. Go for it, girl!

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,740
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    @Ribble Do get in touch with a few local stables. Explain your situation, and they'll confirm whether they can accommodate you. We use a high mounting block, so I basically almost step onto the horse (ok, a bit of leg swinging over the saddle involved, but no stepping up into the stirrup) and I keep the stirrups long, which suits my new hip better. But I feel safer having a qualified instructor in the arena with me, who is used to working with far more challenging disabilities than mine, rather than on a friend's pony, even if it is normally very quiet.

    When I posted my happy news on a riders' facebook group, loads more people came on saying they were riding after joint replacements. My sister has been riding with 2 new knees, it can be done 🙂, but it's fair to say a higher degree of caution would be wise, and riding too soon after surgery won't do the implant any good. All things in moderation.

  • Ribble
    Ribble Member Posts: 23
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    hi Lilymary,

    Many thanks for your comments. I’m due for knee surgery in a few days and, needless to say, I’m literally quaking at the knees now it’s so near and here I am, up in the early hours, wide awake as the due date gets nearer! It’s good to hear that you got back in the saddle and are making the things you love doing possible. This does help with the courage I’m at present lacking. It’s more the recovery time that I’m dreading but I will try and take it all literally one step at a time. 😊

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,740
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    @Ribble , I posted on a riders facebook group about my surgery, and plenty of other riders with new knees and hips came out of the woodwork. My sister (two new knees) has also ridden from time to time. We all take it a bit more carefully, maybe adapt things a bit, but it can be done.

    The recovery can be a bit tough, but take it a day at a time. The difference is, pre-op things keep getting worse. Post op, it WILL get better! Just persevere with your physio, you'll get there. Come on here when you need a moan at any stage - lots of fellow sufferers here who know how it feels. xx

  • Skinny Keef
    Skinny Keef Member Posts: 994
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    Lovely photo, you look seriously pleased with yourself and rightly so 👍