Top Barn Challenge Summary 2019

If you have seen my Top Barn Challenge 2019 post you will have seen that I took on the challenge of committing to 3 hours of riding/horsemanship a week for 12 weeks.  The 12 weeks ended today and I’m pleased to say that I completed the challenge!  Not only did I rack up the hours but I ticked off some of the mini challenges and I also feel like taking part in this has helped me in so many ways these past few months.

Dressage

Quite early in the challenge I ticked off the dressage competition mini challenge and the new venue one to boot!  Reaching for the 3 hour time target each week has helped me to commit to making my schooling sessions a bit longer than they used to be.  I’ve discovered the magic of putting the time into a proper warm up which has undoubtedly helped me to achieve more schooling wise.  The proof was in the pudding in our last lesson when my instructor was impressed with how much progress we had made with accepting the contact.

Hacking

Hacking has probably been the biggest success of the challenge.  I’ve been riding out on my own so much more and not just for little half hour hacks but for proper hour hacks (and occasionally longer!)  I am so much more confident hacking out and have embraced the challenges that bad weather and spooky changes in the environment have thrown our way.  I’ve also finally got around to cantering out for the first time since my hip replacement!

Groundwork

I intended on doing more groundwork than I actually managed during the challenge but I’ve been much better at doing stretches with Pea.  I’ve also played around with getting her to stand and stay as well as follow.  She was pretty well behaved before but she just keeps getting better!

After The Challenge

I’m going to try to keep up the 3 hours a week (although probably won’t keep track) and hopefully I can  I want to keep building Pea’s fitness and my own so the hacking will continue and, all things being well, I will keep my solo hacking confidence!  Obviously our dressage goals still very much stand and I’m hoping to get competing again in April.

Six Months In The Saddle

At the end of February it will have been six months since I started riding again with my new hip so I thought it was about time I looked back on what Pea and I have achieved in that time.  There are lots of links to past posts in case you have missed any!

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September (Month 1)

In all honesty, in September the key achievement was getting on and staying there for more than ten minutes!  I found it really hard to sit in the saddle in the first place although it gradually got better as each ride went on and each time I rode.  By the end of the month I managed to trot my way round an Intro dressage test for Dressage Riders Online.

October (Month 2)

I found riding quite mentally challenging in October because I felt guilty about how little I was doing.  I was still only riding for ten to fifteen minutes at a time.  However, at the end of October, I cantered for the first time since my operation.  It was very uncomfortable!

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November (Month 3)

At the beginning of November we took Pea to Lyneham for my first lesson in about six months.  My instructor rode Pea for a while and then I did and I went away feeling on top of the world.  I had a few weeks of feeling really good about my riding (although I was still finding cantering really challenging).  However, at the end of the month I had a bump in the road where I was in pain again.

December (Month 4)

After feeling so positive about my riding for most of November, December was a bit of a flop!  I had a really good lesson at the start but then I was away house sitting and had two bouts of feeling really grotty so I didn’t do much ‘proper’ riding.  I did do a Christmas yard hack into Bourton on the Water to sing a Christmas song in the river and take my boyfriend for a ride on Christmas day.

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January (Month 5)

January was a much better month for riding.  I took on the Bronze Top Barn Challenge which meant I rode (or did groundwork with Pea) for at least three hours each week.  I also entered and completed my first competition with my new hip (which was also our first competition away from home and in an indoor arena) and had another amazing lesson with my instructor.  Everything was a bit disconnected and wonky at the competition but Pea started working so nicely in my lesson and I finally felt like she was starting to accept the contact and become supple.  This continued when I was schooling at home too and I was strong and comfortable enough to be riding for longer.  I’ve certainly found that a longer warm up has been beneficial and the difference in my leg since my hip replacement has meant that I’m still comfortable enough to keep going afterwards!

February (Month 6)

February was meant to bring my second competition of the year and my step back up to prelim (which I was competing at before my hip replacement) but first we had snow and then the equine flu saga exploded so I haven’t been out competing and I haven’t been out for any lessons.  It has been really frustrating because I feel like things were just starting to fall together and now they are on hold HOWEVER Pea has been schooling really nicely at home.  She is a lot more off my leg and seems to be working more correctly.  The big achievement this month has been our hacking.  I haven’t always been confident about hacking but this month I have been going out for 60/70 minute hacks ON MY OWN (with Pea!)  A massive achievement for me.

Next Steps

I’m hoping to get back out again in March providing my yard owner is happy for that to happen.  I want to be confidently riding prelims with passable canter movements by the time the summer comes so lots of practice, some lessons and trying out some more competition venues is on the ‘to do’ list.

Along For The Ride – Life On Localised Lockdown

Today should have been a ‘February Dressage’ post but due to the equine flu scare, I am not currently going to lessons or competitions.  I know people have been saying that the whole thing has been blown out of proportion but I couldn’t forgive myself if I went out somewhere and took the flu back to the 30 other horses at my yard (most of whom never go anywhere outside of hacking into the nearest villages).  So that is all I’m doing, local hacking and schooling at home.

It has been four weeks since my last lesson and I’ve been getting worried that all the schooling work is going to go downhill if we don’t have a lesson to set us on our way with the next steps.  So far that hasn’t happened and Pea went better on Friday than ever before but I’m trying not to do too much schooling just in case!

I did a couple of little hacks into the closest village on my own this week and have been feeling increasingly brave.  I decided that this morning I would venture a bit further and hack round both local villages.  This may not sound like an achievement but hacking on my own is something I have only become more comfortable with recently.  And when I say recently, I mean pretty much this week!

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Pea used to be a bit spooky, sometimes nappy and certainly more forward when out on her own but this morning she was the epitome of the popular dealer phrase ‘dope on a rope’.  I’m sure this is because I’m more chilled out now than I used to be.  A classic example of how horses feed on your feelings.

Now that solo hacks don’t make me stress every second I actually found going out for over an hour a little lonely!  I could have done with some music or a podcast to keep my brain entertained (though I would never ride with headphones in on the road).  I certainly noticed the many many people out walking and enjoying the beautiful (almost) spring day!

To join me for the ride.. click play.

 

How do you feel about hacking solo? 

I then did brave act of the day number 2.. turned Pea out without her rug on.  It has got warmer this week and Pea is starting to shed some of her winter fluff so I decided the time was right for her to shed the raincoat too.  I’m sure I will regret this in the morning but hey, it is half term, I’ve got time for major brushing each day!

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What is your horse’s rug situation?  Have you changed their rugs for lighter ones or ditched the rugs altogether?

Top Barn Challenge 2019

You know me, I’m a sucker for a challenge so from today, for the next 12 weeks, I will be taking part in the Top Barn Challenge.

Top Barn is a centre in the Cotswolds and each year they set this challenge on Facebook for horse people to commit to dedicating a certain number of hours a week to working with their horses.  The idea is to form a supportive community to help each other to stay motivated.

There are four levels which each have a specification of how many hours a week and how many challenges you need to do to complete it. Bronze is 3 hours a week with no compulsory mini challenges, Silver is 5 hours with 2 mini challenges etc.

I will be aiming for the Bronze challenge (3 hours a week of riding or groundwork) but will also try to do some of the mini challenges from the dressage, hacking and groundwork lists (though they are not part of the Bronze challenge).

I’m going to use this post to keep track of how I’m doing towards the challenge.

Week 1

7.1.19 – 40 minutes total to kick off the challenge, made up of riding, stretching and trying to teach Pea to smile and bow!

11.1.19 – I’ve achieved a mini challenge! After not riding for 3 days, I hacked out alone for 30 minutes. I hate hacking out alone so this was a real success for me.

12.1.19 – 35 minutes schooling session before work this morning. The best way to start the day!

13.1.19 – 50 minutes of riding at a dressage competition today. Back at the yard I did 10 minutes of massage and 15 minutes of stretching with Pea. The desire to reach my 3 hours certainly helped me to spend more quality time out of the saddle today.

Week 1 Summary – 3 hours

Week 2

17.1.19 – 40 minutes schooling and 10 minutes of carrot stretches in baltic weather conditions!

18.1.19 – 30 minutes schooling including some uncomfortable canter.

19.1.19 – 60 minutes in the saddle for a lesson with my instructor.  Had a really productive session today, I had no idea how much it was possible to sweat on such a cold day!

20.1.19 – 65 minutes worth of relaxing hacking today, perfect for a Sunday.

Week 2 Summary – 3 hours 25 minutes

Week 3

25.1.19 – 30 minute schooling session working on becoming more connected, followed by 10 minutes in hand.

26.1.19 – 60 minutes of hacking, 30 minutes schooling, 10 minutes in hand followed by 10 minutes of stretching!  This was a major success for me considering before my hip replacement riding for that long was majorly painful and since my hip replacement I have been slowly building up from ten minutes to an hour max!

27.1.19 – 30 minutes of solo hacking

Week 3 Summary – 3 hours

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Week 4

28.1.19 – 45 minute schooling session with two of the kids from the yard.  Pea is so much more forward schooling in company and produced a lovely flashy trot AND we did some canter.  Then I walked her off in hand for 10 minutes.

31.1.19 – 40 minutes of schooling (was actually in the saddle for more like an hour but spent a bit too long chatting to my yard owner!)

1.2.19 – 30 minutes plodding round and round the school trying to churn up the snow to make the arena more rideable for Saturday lessons!

3.2.19 – 35 minutes of plodding around the school AGAIN!  The snow had mostly melted in the arena but some of the school was still quite icey so I only did a few flashed of trot but did quite a lot of work on connection in walk and used some poles to get Pea moving!  I finished the session by walking her in hand for 10 minutes and then doing her stretching routine for another 10.

Week 4 Summary – 3 hours

Week 5

4.2.19 – 30 minutes plodding hack on my own into the village and back. I actually found it more therapeutic than worrying which was wonderful!

8.2.19 – 25 minutes of soggy schooling followed by a 10 minute walk cooling off.

9.2.19 – 40 minutes hacking into the village with my boyfriend walking with us. We had a proper paddle in the river to clean off her legs.

10.2.19 – 90 minutes hacking with the kids from the yard on what is known as the ‘cheese ride’ (because it goes past a dairy farm). We had to deal with cows, sheep, tractors and quads along the way but it was good to go somewhere I haven’t been for a while. We also did 5 minutes of stretching.

Week 5 Summary – 3 hours 20 minutes

Week 6

11.2.19 – 40 minutes of plodding around the village and playing in the river.  A solo ride!

15.2.19 – 25 minutes of the best schooling Pea has ever done!  Then 10 minutes of me trudging round in the dark walking her off!

16.2.19 – 40 minutes of plodding around the village.. on my own.. again!

17.2.19 – 70 minutes of bravely venturing around both villages and splashing in the river followed by 5 minutes of stretching.

Week 6 Summary – 3 hours 10 minutes

Week 7

18.2.19 – 40 minutes of schooling followed by 10 minutes of walking off.

20.2.19 – 60 minutes hacking on my own.

21.2.19 – 70 minutes of hacking on my own in the beautiful sunshine!

22.2.19 – 70 minutes of hacking on my own in the beautiful sunshine AGAIN!  I can’t believe how much I have been riding out on my own recently without any lack of confidence or nerves.

Week 7 Summary – 4 hours 10 minutes

Week 8

25.2.19 – 60 minutes of hacking with another girl from the yard and the horse she rides.

1.3.19 – 45 minutes of fairly dodgy schooling followed by a 10 minute cool down hacking down the track and back.

2.3.19 – 60 minutes of hacking including a canter!  Throughout this challenge my hacking confidence has improved so much and cantering out (on my own) for the first time since my hip replacement was another big step.

3.3.19 – 65 minutes of hacking around the local villages in some serious wind and rain!

Week 8 Summary – 4 hours

Week 9

4.3.19 – 40 minutes of pretty poor schooling split into two 20 minute sessions with a sit and chat in the middle!

8.3.19 – 45 minutes of schooling followed by 10 minutes of in hand cooling off. Some proper cantering today!

9.3.19 – 30 minutes of plodding into the village – a sneaky hack before work.

10.3.19 – 60 minutes of the most terrifying hack ever! I had got up at 5am to hack before a big day of moving house.  The wind was absolutely ridiculous and I honestly thought I was going to either be blown off Pea or fall off when she spooked.  I thought I was going to die!  In previous times I would have turned around and gone home but this time I pushed on which just shows how much my confident has grown.

Week 9 Summary – 3 hours 5 minutes

Week 10

11.3.19 – 10 minutes of stretching for Pea today – I got so involved in a Pony Club rally at the yard that I bailed on riding and spent my time grooming Pea and getting rid of some of her winter fluff instead.

15.3.19 -40 minutes of a truly awful schooling session where nothing seemed to be going right followed by 10 minutes cooling down.

16.3.19 – 60 minutes in the saddle for my lesson.  Pea was working so much better into the contact in trot so we worked on her canter (which didn’t go so well) and her square halts.

17.3.19 – 40 minutes of hacking followed by 15 minutes in the school to practise our square halts and 10 minutes of cooling down.

Week 10 Summary – 3 hours 5 minutes

Week 11

18.3.19 – 40 minutes of schooling.

22.3.19 – 30 minutes of schooling.  I also had a go at picking out Pea’s feet from one side – no problem!

23.3.19 – 60 minutes of hacking in the beautiful spring sunshine!

24.3.19 – 60 minutes of hacking through the villages.

Week 11 Summary – 3 hours 10 minutes

Week 12

28.3.19 – 60 minutes of eventful hacking!  The village that we always hack through was being turned into the set of a film so there were lots of people, unusual objects and noisy tools to hack past then we came across a four horse carriage!

30.3.19 – 60 minutes of hacking – we went back through the village to see how the film set was progressing and there has been lots of turf added to cover the double yellow lines on the road.

31.3.19 – 60 minutes of hacking around the normal route, past all the road closed signs and through the film set for the last time before they keep us well away next week!

Week 12 Summary – 3 hours

19 for 2019 (Facts About Us)

It is a new year and I think it is a good opportunity to introduce myself, Pea and our blog to followers old and new. Here are 19 key pieces of information to get you up to speed!

  1. My name is Poppy!
  2. I am 27 years old
  3. I live in the Cotswolds with my boyfriend and two guinea pigs Peter and Patrick
  4. I work in primary education
  5. I have UKCC equestrian coaching qualifications (which I don’t currently use) and a horse care diploma (which helps me to look after my precious pony!)
  6. I started properly riding 5 years ago after childhood hip problems (Perthes Disease) restricted my activity options when I was younger
  7. I now have a ceramic left hip (as of June 2018)33a757f8-1f48-446a-9e89-5dc267ac27e9
  8. My pony’s normal name is Pea but her posh name is Scarlet Sweetpea
  9. She is 14hh
  10. She is passported as a Welsh Cob but has gypsy origins!
  11. She is 13 according to her passport but could be several years either side of that
  12. She is barefoot (and always has been so it is not something I have changed)
  13. I started riding her at my yard (Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre) 4 and a half years ago and then bought her 3 years ago
  14. She lives at the same yard that I bought her from (although we did move for a while) and lives out 24/7
  15. My chosen discipline is dressage and we hope to do more of it this year 42867B0F-2D8B-48B1-9806-399F9DEB9C27.jpeg
  16. I started my blog to share my experience of having a hip replacement at 26 and returning to riding afterwards
  17. I put out a new blog every weekend
  18. I have an Instagram, Facebook page and Twitter feed linked to my blog if you want to see more photos and tales
  19. Most of the video footage and photos of both of us were taken by our top supporter, my non horsey boyfriend

Falling In And Out Of Love

Time for a confessional to address a slightly taboo subject – falling in and out of love with riding.

Before I start, just to clarify, not a day has gone by where I haven’t loved Pea.  Even in the early days when sometimes I couldn’t catch her for love nor treats.  Even when her tankiness caused me to have plastered fingers for weeks.  Even when she reared whilst being held by my ‘horses are dangerous’ boyfriend! I’ve never fallen out of love with Pea or horses.

There has also never been a point where I haven’t wanted to WANT to ride.. Just the achieving the wanting has been hard.. Have you got that?

ANYWAY, I have had my fair share of roller-coasters when it comes to how I have felt about riding (even having only started five years ago) and in the interests of honesty I thought I’d share my experiences and tips.

The Lows

Unhappy Hacker –

If you’ve read Riding – How It All Started you will know that I had a major confidence wobble right at the beginning.  There was a time when I didn’t want to leave the yard.  I even walked miles and miles leading a horse when I was too scared to ride it after half a hack!  And cantering our? Forget it!

There have been plenty of days when I have opted not to ride because I had no-one to hack out with.  If I do go out alone, I never go far.  I’m too worried about what might happen if something went wrong.

Confidence/Nerves –

The confidence issues continued.  Prime example being the time I managed to enter a hunter trial but turned into a complete nervous wreck/stranger and ended up falling off due to losing all control over my own limbs/ability to do anything!

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A special mention also goes to the preparation and occasion of my Level 2 Diploma riding assessment – there were a LOT of tears.  The utter fear of assessment is something that really affects me.

Pain –

If you are reading this you are probably aware of my hip situation (if not, you’ve got a lot to catch up on.. My Hip Story).  There have been many many occasions when I have forgone riding because I couldn’t face the pain and the after effects on my hip of having ridden.

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The Highs

The Summer Of Jumping –

There was a time when I did weekly clear round (small) jumping, jumped a yard horse 1m 15 in a ‘Chase Me Charlie’ and was happy to go to a friend’s house and jump their horse!

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Happy Hacking –

Also, in what feels like a past life, I was hacking out three a day!  Kilbeggan Blade/Brian (an ex National horse) and Bobby (a 4 year old driving pony just starting ridden work who I also competed at Intro dressage) alongside Pea.

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Horse Confident –

As I’ve said, in the past I was jumping onto different horses left right and centre, even riding the yard’s most infamous team chaser AND I went to try horses and ponies for the yard owner.

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Finding My Goal –

The catalyst to writing this post was that right now, with a new hip and a dressage ambition – I am SO in love with riding. I have a very long way to go before I get to where I want to be but I’m happy I’m on the right track.

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What I’ve Learnt

– Identify the problem. Be honest with yourself. What is the reason you’re leaving your riding kit at home or using other avoidance tactics?

– Find what you enjoy and stick with it. If you don’t want to jump, don’t. If you never want to ride in an arena, don’t. If you don’t want to hack alone, don’t!

– If you want to make a change, don’t be an island – allow someone to help you. If you need to build your confidence, book a lesson. If you need a hacking buddy, find one! If you’re struggling with your horse, get someone else to ride it and see if they can help.

– Measure your success against yourself and be realistic with your expectations. Albert Einstein wrote ‘if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’. If yesterday you wouldn’t walk over a coloured pole, don’t expect to be eventing any time soon.

– Celebrate your successes! Walking over that coloured pole may have been a massive achievement over your confidence issues! Celebrate that!

– Be aware of the Olivia Towers ‘stretch zone’ theory (read about it in Tips from HOYS). You’ve got to branch out of your comfort zone a bit but don’t tip yourself over the edge.

– If you don’t like something – change it. Are you avoiding going for lessons because you’re not keen on your instructor? Find a new one.

– Go with the flow. Accept that sometimes you will feel better than at other times. If you’re feeling good, roll with it.

There are some loves worth fighting for!

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Back In The Saddle Dilemmas!

As I said in Week Ten/Day One I’m back in the saddle. After my initial upset at how much I’m having to start from scratch and how painful and uncomfortable my first ride was, things have improved gradually. On my second ride I trotted, on my third ride I managed ten minutes, on my fourth I hacked out and on my fifth.. well the achievement was that I’d ridden the day before and I was able to ride again!  Slowly but surely my leg is starting to hug Pea’s side rather than stick out awkwardly and my body is starting to remember what to do (whether it is doing it or not is another matter!)

It has been quite a challenge to reprogramme the part of my brain that thought once I was riding again I’d be able to just crack on. At the moment I have short stirrups and eye-sore heels (as you can see below), my bum is nowhere near as deep in the saddle as it needs to be, my riding sessions are very short and the idea of riding five times a week is a pipe dream! Pushing the negatives aside, as I said – it is all getting better every time I ride even if the pictures aren’t showing that!

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The question is – what should I be doing? My physio has advised me to walk as much as I can and I am meant to be strengthening my muscles, in particular my core. She also gave me permission to ride which is meant to be helping me to stop collapsing through my left side (as I am doing below!) The problem is, every ride involves lots of walking in order to get Pea and turn her out after which hurts and tires me out and the riding does the same. I don’t know if it is possible to quantify the right amount of walking and riding for where I am in my recovery right now. The old adage of listening to my body isn’t working – if I listened to my body I wouldn’t be doing much at all which completely goes against the idea of building my strength. I don’t know where to draw the line!

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My next physio appointment which was meant to be next week has been pushed back to the beginning of October (due to staff training) but I am seeing my surgeon a week tomorrow.  In the meantime I will just have to try to achieve a middle ground between what I want to do and doing nothing!  Putting my worries to the back of my mind – I’m just happy to be back on board!

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My Last Week Of Pony Freedom

In my last post (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/06/11/positive-thoughts/) I said that I has plans for making the most of my last ‘normal’ week with Pea.  It didn’t quite go to plan!  I really wanted to put all of our progress into practise at a dressage competition so I booked ourselves up for a Prelim test at Rectory Farm.  I have always been lucky with Pea, she is generally in good health with the exception of her weight issues.  In true typical horse style though, on Tuesday, the day of the dressage competition, this is what I found at the yard..

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I’m not going to lie, I was immensely disappointed.  I really wanted to be able to say that we had gone out and done something before all my time off started.  I am fully aware that horses can carry on with only one eye but if you had a swollen, itchy eye, would you want to go in a trailer to a place where you had never been before and do a dressage test?  I wouldn’t.  As much as I am becoming more confident and ambitious, my pony’s welfare comes first.

The second grand plan for the week was to have a reunion hack with my old (not old at all) hacking buddy, Rachel.  A couple of years ago we were regular hacking buddies, we used to go out for slow and steady hacks in the evening when noone else was around and gossip about our lives whilst enjoying pony time in the sunshine!  I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that she wasn’t the most confident rider either so it worked well for us to ride together.  Exams and life got in the way for her and she stopped leasing.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hacking with lots of different people but when I have been working until late and ride out in the evening when noone else is around, I miss the casual pace of our rides.  It was a long time coming but this Thursday we managed a reunion ride!

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I decided that Thursday’s hack would be my last ride before the operation.  I feel like I need to be well rested by Tuesday, I can’t risk hurting myself at this late stage and actually, I have aways been a firm believer that there is more to being involved with horses than riding.  I like nothing better than just being with Pea and the other horses at Bourton Vale.  I’m not going to be able to sit in the field and just enjoy the view for a while so I have been making the most of it.  Doesn’t she look fantastic in her new fly mask?

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In other news, Whiskey, the horse who built my confidence from absolutely nothing to something I could work with (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/13/riding-how-it-all-started/)  has returned to the yard after being away as a companion.  Just like Pea, she started life as a gypsy pony and seeing them together in the field makes me think of how far they have come and how far I have come!  And if Whiskey can cope with having had burns to her chest (from long before we had her) and losing an eye (having had a tumour in it), a little hip replacement should be no problem for me!

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The next couple of months is going to be a very different ball game when it comes to me having ‘pony time’.  Fingers crossed I can work around the hip precautions and the crutches!

 

Self Preservation And Perspective

Today I went for my hip education appointment at Southmead.  Myself and eleven other people (all, I would say, at least thirty years older than me) listened to the advice of a nurse and occupational therapists about what we need to do to prepare for our operations and what precautions we will have to follow afterwards.  Although I have read the booklet, looked at the pictures and endured my OH’s demonstrations of what HE has learnt from the booklet, it hadn’t quite hit home how tricky everyday activities are if you stick to the precautions.  Which I am going to do.  A good recovery is going to be absolutely crucial to getting the best I can out of this hip for as long as I possibly can.  Usually I live life at speed, I always have more to do than I can fit into my days.  It sounds like by the time I have got out of bed, managed to shower and dress myself it will be time to go back to bed!  Speaking of getting dressed, I now have a long shoe horn, a special sock ‘putter onner’ and what is essentially a litter picker – I think I’ve got a lot of practising to do in the next two weeks!

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After the talks and demonstrations we each had a short meeting with an OT to go through measurements of furniture and other information relating to home set ups.  We established that

  • My bed is too low so I am going to be provided with risers for it.
  • We are going to have to swap sides of the bed – just one of the many habits I will have to change and one that my boyfriend is certainly not going to like!
  • The sofa just isn’t going to work as my recover chair – I’m on the look out for an ‘old people’s home’ style armchair with a seat height of 47cm!
  • The toilets are too low (no surprise there) so I am going to be sent toilet risers
  • I shouldn’t drive for six weeks

Very crucially though – I am lucky.  I have a shower cubicle (people with showers over the bath aren’t allowed to use them for three months).  I also have a boyfriend who will feed me and help me in any way I need, I have parents who are coming to stay in the area for six weeks and I have friends who will make sure my pony is ok amongst other things!  Compared to the woman who has had two months notice that she needs a hip op, has a daughter with leukaemia and a three year old grand child who she looks after (and only a shower over a bath) I am VERY lucky and that hasn’t escaped me.

However lucky I feel, it hasn’t been a great week.  I have had one of those fluey colds, the kind I have had a million times over but rather than my usual ‘crack on’ attitude.  I’ve gone into self preservation mode.  I need to get over this cold quick.  I haven’t had time off work but I have rested, taken pills, wrapped up warm and not physically exerted myself which means next to no riding.  Pea has pretty much become a field pony and it shows.  She has got a major grass baby belly!  Again, I am lucky though, she loves being a wild herd pony.  Thank goodness I don’t have a sensitive stabled beast that needs riding all the time!  My leg pain has been worse because I’ve been all achy and rubbish.. not how I wanted to spend one of my last weeks.  I feel like I might actually be learning how to look after myself though, rather than just overdoing it like usual.  A lesson learnt just in time!

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In other news, even my guinea pigs are prepping for the changes ahead – they’ve got a new feeder that refills for a few days – one small thing to worry about less often!

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Making Preparations

It is now June which means I can no longer say that my operation is next month.. it is actually this month!  No more months to wait!  I still have plenty of unanswered questions about what is to come, even after reading the extensive booklet I was given at my pre op (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/17/practically-passable-in-every-way/), but proper preparations have started.

Firstly, my lovely boyfriend has started shifting the furniture so that it is more ‘crutch friendly’.  When we moved in together we amalgamated most of our furniture but the house isn’t really big enough to cope.  Until this week you had to be pretty slim to get past the furniture to the bedroom and the shower room but that clearly wasn’t going to work for me post op.  Now the spare room can only be accessed if you are a mouse but the important rooms are far more accessible.  We used to have an equal, foot wide passage either side of our bed but the bed is now shifted all the way to one side so he has been practising climbing whilst I have been enjoying the luxury of space!

After the conversations at my pre op about not being able to shower at least for the first day after my operation, hygiene and cleanliness have been at the forefront of my ‘first world problem’ panics.  I took a trip to Boots to stock up on the things I think I’m going to want whilst I’m in hospital to help me to try to feel more normal.  It felt a little funny buying one of those travel bags of empty bottles to fill for hospital rather than for a holiday.  I also got a free gift of travel sized Liz Earle products when I bought my usual products from them – again, perfect for hospital!  Two and a half weeks to go and my wash bag is packed – not bad considering these days I tend to take one day at a time.

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I also bought a few new, loose dresses.  I know that there are tips and tricks as to how to get trousers on – men must do it!  I can’t help thinking that in the early stages it might just be easier to wear dresses.  As for the funny gadgets to help you put your socks on (that I have seen in my booklet) I feel like if I don’t wear socks for the rest of June and July, it is not the end of the world!

Physically, I’m doing my best effort at my physio exercises and trying to keep my muscles going whilst not knackering myself out completely.  I am having varied success with that as I still have nights where the pain completely takes over and I realise I have  overdone it in one way or another.  It is hard to break the habit of a lifetime!  I have started to do a bit of yoga (strictly in house using videos to help me) and of course I am still riding.  Not for long, not far and since the pleasure ride (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/20/pleasure-and-pain/) barely out of a walk!  Sometimes I feel like I can’t actually move my leg while I’m riding (not good if you need to put a bit of leg on when your pony sees a monster in the bushes!)  Most nights I’m happy just to spend some time with Pea.  Apart from the walking required to get to her, that is relatively painless!

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At this stage I’m not sure what other preparations I need to make!  If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.

 

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