Things I Didn’t Know Then But I Know Now (One Year)

There are a lot of things that I have realised since my op that either no one told me or I didn’t realise before.  Obviously not all of them would be relevant to everyone’s THR recovery but they were certainly relevant to me!  Obviously I’m not a medical professional either but this was my experience!  I started writing this post just after my hip replacement and there has been plenty to add to it since.

The Hospital Stage

  • A general anaesthetic can make you puke.  Lots.  I should have known this but when it happened I was completely mentally unprepared.  Since I’ve spent the last 10+ years successfully avoiding being sick, it wasn’t great.
  • I had to have an oxygen tube to start with. This surprised me!
  • The whole puking thing also meant I didn’t want to eat because I knew it wouldn’t stay down long.

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  • I got painted in red antiseptic which made me wake up and think I had something wrong with me.
  • I was really swollen near the incision.
  • Regardless of what I was told before my op, I still had to wait two weeks to shower.
  • The car journey home felt like the worst rollercoaster I’d ever been on!

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The Early Stages

  • Anti-embolism socks made my heels sore.  I used cotton pads on my heels which helped (although it is not medically recommended).  Someone moisturising my feet helped even more!
  • I completely lost my appetite.
  • Whatever I was told before my operation, regardless of having a raised toilet seat, I could find NO way to go to the toilet without breaking my 90 degree bend restriction.  Sorry.
  • I got SO tired.  Doing basically nothing.  But I couldn’t necessarily sleep at night because it was just so uncomfortable lying flat on my back.

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  • As well as being tired, my brain was generally very fuzzy (probably the painkillers).
  • When I went out in the sun I had a fair few faint moments (woops!)
  • My scar pulled the skin around it tight, making a bit of a crater in my flesh!  This happened a little bit with my original scar from my childhood operations but it has been far more significant with my hip replacement scar.

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  • I had to repeatedly explain why I had had a hip replacement!

The “Crutch Free” Stage

  • Post op. walking was not walking.  It was a funny cross between shuffling and marching.

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  • When I was still on bending restrictions but with the crutches and socks gone, everyone else thought that I was fully recovered.
  • Or rather, most people thought I was fully recovered APART from the people who saw me carrying around a pillow so that I could sit down without breaking the aforementioned restrictions.

The Later Stages

  • Little things reminded me that I had a false hip but everyone else had forgotten it even happened.
  • I started to want to do things that I never planned to do!  The perfect example being my decision to run again.
  • I keep discovering things which are a hundred times less painful than they were before I had my new hip – no stirrups riding anyone?

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Exercise – For The Mind, Body And Hip!

One of my goals for the year was to ‘get strong’; to continue to rehab my hip replaced hip and and to increase my fitness after 6 months of really reduced activity.  Since I made this goal in January, I upped my riding, particularly while I was doing the Top Barn Challenge 2019, but more recently I’ve been looking at my step count and lamenting the rubbish mid week days.  Now it has all changed!

I feel like I am now at the point with my new hip where I need to step up using it and push myself more.  There is that but also we all know ‘exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy’.

Riding

Obviously riding is my favourite exercise.  I’m still fairly consistently riding four times a week (which is as much as I can fit in around work at the moment) but I am trying to be more conscious of what work we do.  If I don’t feel strong enough or in the right mindset to school, I don’t.  Otherwise I know we will go in and flop around for a bit, achieving very little and getting me frustrated!  When I AM in the right frame of mind, we are schooling for much longer each time.  We are trotting more hills, TRYING to canter more and just generally enjoying what we are doing.

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Walking

The biggest change I’ve made is I’m consciously pushing myself to do more steps rather than just doing what I do.  Rather than going to the yard on the way home from work, I’ve been driving home and walking to the yard (which is under a mile away).  A simple change and certainly more time consuming BUT also an easy way to up my step count.  The days I carry two tubs of pig food with me are even better.. weights anyone!?  I listen to podcasts (Olivia Towers’s ones are my favourite) and I chill out.  I make sure I extend my leg properly and hold my pelvis properly and I feel much better for doing it.

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Cycling

My bike had spent many months stationary after I was allowed to ride a horse again but I’ve decided to get it out and try to, at least weekly, go out for a cycle.  The main problem with this is I’m not very confident in traffic as such, my bike rides have been at 5.30 in the morning!  Not much traffic then!  I love the feeling of the wind whistling past me though I need to build up to doing more hill work.  Again, it makes me feel good, starts my day well and allows me to see my pony an extra time if I go past the yard!

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Yoga

I’ve been quite on off with my yoga recently but there is no denying it has amazing benefits for your mental and physical state.  I always feel the effect on my muscles after only one yoga session so I definitely need to get going with it again.  I’m hoping to take my mat out to the garden now that the weather is getting better like a proper insta girl!

Running!

Now I have said a million times, I won’t be running with my new hip.  It isn’t exactly recommended, I don’t want to prematurely wear my hip and I’ve never really been a keen runner.  But sometimes things happen and what happened to me was that the Tuesday lunch running club at school needed an extra adult to cope with the sheer quantity of children wanting to do it.  My school has a very small staff and it didn’t look like anyone else was going to do it.  You know what I’m like when someone asks me to do something!?  On the proviso that some of the children would be so slow I would be able to keep up in a speedy walk, I agreed to do it.  Today was my first one.  I ran.  Admittedly there were plenty of walking breaks (I couldn’t leave the straggling last children behind) and maybe it was more of a jog but it was certainly the most in the way of running that I have done in a long time.  I actually enjoyed it.  It is such a cliche but I felt FREE!  Lets not forget that this time last year I was on crutches (before my operation) for any proper walking.  Don’t ask me how I feel – right now I feel ok but I’ll update you tomorrow!

So where do I go from here?  The plan is to continue riding four times a week (building up both of our fitness), try to get out on my bike and do yoga at least once a week respectively, to carry on with running/jogging/walking/motivating children club (IF I feel ok tomorrow) and to make sure EVERY day I do enough steps.

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

5 Things I’m Proud Of (2018)

I’ve decided to join Rhea Freeman’s ‘5 Things I’m Proud Of’ challenge and will be adding one more thing each day until the 31st December!

1 – The Confidence To Make A Change

This started in 2017 when I made the big decision to leave my permanent contract teaching job and follow my dream to a live in job at boarding school stables, but this year (2018) I have made some more major changes.

Firstly, I decided to leave that job in order to return to the Cotswolds for my operation (with no future job lined up!)  Three months into my recovery and feeling much better, I then made the decision to take a HLTA job (rather than try for a full time teaching one) alongside my self employed tutoring.

Both of these big changes have paid off for me so far but I am hoping I don’t have such big decisions to make in 2019!

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2 – Getting Out And About

It has certainly been a year of confidence growth!  With a trailer and the commitment of my travelling head lad (boyfriend..) 2018 was meant to be a year for getting out and about with Pea.  The hip replacement put a fairly big brake on this but we still managed to go out for lessons to two different places (in three different arenas).  Riding in different arenas has been great for my confidence, we have now experienced an arena with no fence and been in an indoor arena for the first time ever!

Each time we go out the stress gets less as we establish our routines and roles. I am still nervous about travelling Pea (even though she travels fine) but the more we do it, the more settled I feel. I’m proud of us all for breaking out of our comfort zone.

The intention was to get out to competitions this year too but that wasn’t meant to be.. hopefully we will have more success in 2019!

3 – My Recovery Journey

If you have ever visited my blog before you will know that in June I had a hip replacement.  Quite aside from being proud that I actually did it in the first place (though I made that decision at the end of 2017), I’m proud of how I’ve made it out the other side. 

I’m proud of myself for following the rules of my rehab, for doing my physio exercises, for getting back on my pony and ‘living my life’. 

I’m proud that I am now able to walk tall and (fairly) straight. 

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4 – Pea

As you can see in Pea’s Year it has been a big year for Pea. After settling in to life in Malvern she went through the upheaval of moving back to Bourton with no stress or complaints.

After running away from my crutches before my operation, once my hip was done she couldn’t have been more gentle and tolerant of me or the fact that she was being ridden by various tourists!

She responded to each stage of progress with interest and was almost unsure the day I led her out of the stable to get on! She has been pretty much impeccably behaved since, testing me only when I have been ready!

I’m proud of the willingness she has shown when my instructor has ridden her and I’m proud that we are finishing 2018 in a better position than we were at the beginning!

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5 – My Blog

If you had asked me at the beginning of 2018 what I would be proud of by the end, the changes, the trailer travel, the operation and Pea would have all been very much on my list, I could never have predicted the fifth thing I’m proud of.

I started my blog with very little expectation or intention but I feel like I have achieved something with it!

  • I am proud to have received messages and comments from people who have appreciated me sharing my story (some of whom live in a completely different country!)
  • I’m proud to have been shortlisted and given an award in the Equestrian Blogger of the Year competition.
  • I’m also proud to be writing again for a purpose other than work!

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Happy Half Birthday Hip!

The 19th December was my new hip’s official six month birthday!

It has had a busy time

  • 2 nights in hospital
  • 2 weeks with a dressing on
  • 2 weeks of no showers
  • 3 weeks off work
  • 6 weeks of anti embolism socks
  • 6 weeks off driving
  • 2 months of crutch support
  • 10 weeks off riding
  • 3.5 months OF riding
  • 7 physio sessions

If you feel like revisiting the journey so far.. My Hip Story

But where am I now?

Life In General

I’m fully settled into my new job, though desperately pleased it is the Christmas holidays.  I have been ill twice in the last couple of weeks and I think it is my body telling me that it needs a rest – the three weeks off I had after my operation don’t exactly count as a rest and you have to wind back about a year before that to get to the last time I had any proper time off.

Riding

Because I have been under the weather and I’ve been away house sitting, I have given Pea a bit of time off however riding has got so much better.  Feeling both thighs ache after a ‘proper’ ride is amazing – although my left leg still doesn’t work like my right (and both are negatively affected by the way my pelvis is tilted and twisted in the saddle) they are at least both doing something!

I have managed to canter a little bit more this month.  Although I think my trot work is now as good, if not better than it was before my operation, my canter work is behind.  I find it uncomfortable, I’m struggling to sit and keep Pea going.  In fairness, she’s not exactly done much cantering in the last 6 months so she needs strengthening too.  We will get there!  We could do with cantering out so that I can get my bum out of the saddle and she can just go.  I’m making it an aim for the Christmas holidays.  As you can see.. we are seriously lacking skills.

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Hip Matters

I actually stopped paying much attention to my scar for a while but recently I’ve been back on the yoga and conscious of how my muscles are shaping up.  As a consequence of this, my eyes have been opened to the fact that I essentially have a big chunk missing from my left bum cheek!  I knew that scars pull the skin in tight but I guess due to the squishy nature of the area, my extended scar dent is something else!  You can actually see it when I’m wearing trousers!  It’s fine, I’m not going to get all funny about it but I have been wondering if it will change or always be that way.  It is very hard to show in pictures but I’ve tried – brace your eyes, here’s some bare flesh!

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There isn’t much to report in terms of my range of movement and strength as things are moving very slowly forwards/outwards/upwards!  I am still frustrated that when I cross my legs, my left knee sticks in the air.. it does make yoga interesting.  I think I just need to keep going.  I keep reading about people having more flexibility straight after their operations than they did before, it has been quite the opposite for me.  In fact, I had a para dressage assessment last year and was given a classification due to my restricted movement – does that mean I would still qualify if I was reassessed?

Now that I am being more ambitious with what I am doing, I do have times when my hip twinges, probably because I have moved it in a way it shouldn’t be moved.  I can’t quite classify what ways those are but I’m sure over time I will be able to see more of a pattern.

Aside from the flesh dents, rigidity and flashes of alarm I’m still very pleased with my hip – I am more comfortable walking, sitting and sleeping than I ever was.  I am so much less stiff than I was before.

Here’s to the next 6 months!

Another ‘Normal’ – Five Month Update

Another month has passed since my hip replacement! I was thinking  of calling this ‘The Old Normal’ as parts of life seem to be back to how they were a long time ago however there is one fairly crucial difference, so much less pain.

Life In General

I have always been a busy person and although my operation forced me to have some down time, now that I’m back in a full time school job I feel like I’m right back to that ‘full on’ routine again. I am a mug to be working three jobs (my tutoring and a weekend day at the shop add on to my school job). I guess I’m still trying to make up for lost income in the summer but I’m going to cut down on the shop work after Christmas and win some free time back!

Riding

Getting back into lessons has had a massive impact on my riding. I actually feel like I’m back to where I was ability-wise before my operation although I am struggling to feel good about canter as I used to find it so painful. I’m having a lesson next Sunday so hopefully gradually I can change that. These days I’m up to half hour sessions in the school and generally it is my muscles aching afterwards, not my hip. Horray!

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Hip Matters

I don’t want anyone reading this to think that once you’ve got a new hip and you’ve done a couple of months of strengthening that all is good and you can leave it there. I’m still doing physio exercises daily (which now involve a foam roller and an exercise ball) and there is still a long way to go to improve my range of movement. My scar area is also still sore sometimes.

The key reason why this is ‘another normal’ rather than the old normal is that I can do so much more walking without limping or being in pain. We went to Whipsnade Zoo today for a joint birthday outing (if you have never been, it is a BIG zoo) and I had no issue walking around. I often refer to Pea in the winter as a muddy hippo but I’m pretty glad she’s not as wide as one!

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There was a bit of extra poignancy as the last time I went to Whipsnade (also for my birthday) was before I was diagnosed with Perthes and the hip problems started.

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What Comes After Twenty Six?

Today, internet friends, is my 27th Birthday!  Which has had me thinking about the massive year that had just passed.  This blog is for life documentation so if you want to revisit the last year with me, come on in.

I have often said that when I turned 26 I had a bit of a ‘mid twenties crisis’.  I was suddenly really conscious of the future and how much I wanted to achieve but didn’t really feel like I was.

26 has been a rollercoaster, it started with the revelation in December that I was going to have a hip replacement within the next year.  This was followed by the happy occasion of moving in with my boyfriend along with a wonderful few Christmas celebrations with each of our families (and the animal ones).

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Passing my towing test (after one failed attempt..) and my Level 2 UKCC in Equestrian Coaching made me feel like I was getting better at my job and starting to become worthy of it but in February I made the difficult decision that I would have to leave it in order to have a guilt free, successful hip replacement recovery back where I had lived before.

At the end of March, we (humans and pets) made the big move back to the Cotswolds.

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In April I finally managed to reconnect with my family – I went to visit my brother and his little family and my parents.  I started tutoring, I started my new job at the shop, I started blogging AND of course I got my operation date through.  I also created this video – which was essentially an expression of the wonder of being back at my yard.

If you’re a long time reader of mine you know the story from here, Pea and I got out to lessons and I felt like I was just getting somewhere towards my goals, I even managed a fun ride when it all stopped in June for my hip replacement.

June and July were spent like this..

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And this..

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Cut to the end of August (if you want to relive the gory details of my recovery it is all linked in My Hip Story) and the big event was my return to the saddle.

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In September I entered my first online dressage competition and by October I felt ‘better’. I got myself a new job, in a school again and experienced the absolute wonder of getting a blogging award (My Blogging Journey).  There was also loss in our household as we said a sad goodbye to Percy the guinea pig though we then welcomed Patrick to keep Peter company.

In what little of November we have had, Pea and I have got back out for a lesson and she feels better than she has ever felt before (in my completely unprofessional opinion!)  Your Horse Live finished off my year of horsey education trips which included Badminton, Burghley, Blenheim, British Dressage Championships and HOYS.

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This may seem like more of a ‘new year’ style post but all my thoughts around my birthday revolve around how massive this year has been and although on paper it looks like a bit of a mess, I’ve learnt, I’ve achieved and, if I’m honest, I actually feel so much more confident about the future now.  Bring on 27!

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My amazing cake was made by MUCK Cakes by Hannah

My Blogging Journey

The Start

Quite incredibly it was my mum who suggested I start a blog – she thought it would be good to document my hip replacement for my own record and on the offchance it might help others going through the same thing. I pondered the idea (having previously blogged at university and then abandoned it) but when I got my operation through I was motivated to start.

The Premise

I wanted my blog to be about my hip replacement but also about my pony – getting back to riding was the biggest motivation for my recovery.  I have so many riding goals and aspirations and one day I’m sure I will achieve some of them!

The Experience

I have always enjoyed writing – I said I’d write a book while I was recovering but I didn’t get very far with it, my blog has been much more successful! I have also been able to push my interest in photography further – I’ve always been a snapper but now I really care about the quality of my photos. I also enjoyed making my own blog logo!  I would love to work for a horsey magazine doing write ups with photos!

The Reaction

I was bowled over by the number of people who seemed to be interested enough to read my blog – I even bumped into a mum of a child who used to go to the school I used to work at who said she read it – amazing! It has reconnected me with some people – a bonus!

The Goal

To get feedback that my blog has helped others has been fairly surreal but really good – I  hope that new people will continue to benefit from my account of my experience and that my current readers will enjoy following the next steps for me and Pea!

The Community

I have found blogging really therapeutic on its own but it has also allowed me to join lovely little communities of hippy people and of horsey people, some of whom have suffered injuries, with disabilities, from low confidence, who I can admire or relate to.  The internet can be an unpleasant  place sometimes but it can also be a really supportive one.

The Achievement

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If you didn’t already know.. on Wednesday I found out that I have been chosen as a finalist for the Equestrian Blog of the Year Award. I feel so privileged to have achieved this and for my ‘silly little blog’ to be recognised alongside some really amazing bloggers.

If you would like to read more about the award please check out:

http://hay-net.co.uk/equestrian-blogger-talent-recognised-in-awards/

Update!

I won the ‘Rising Star’ award – I absolutely couldn’t be happier to have been recognised and to have been chosen for one of four awards is just unbelievable!

http://www.hay-net.co.uk/winner-of-the-equestrian-blogger-of-the-year-award-2018-announced/

Dressage Riders Online

I came across Dressage Riders Online through the equestrian blogging and social media scene. I have thought about doing online dressage in the past but since I have had transport and have been trying to get out and about to improve my confidence, I have never done it until now. Obviously things are quite different at the moment (three months post hip replacement). I’m only managing short rides (15-20 minutes maximum), haven’t yet cantered and can’t really open my left hip enough to be straight in the saddle. When I started riding again I made it my aim to enter the August intro class – as intro’s last about four minutes and involve mostly trotting this was actually going to be quite a challenge!

The weeks went by and I hadn’t done anything about it but finally last Saturday I arranged for my personal videographer (or boyfriend as he is more commonly titled) to come to the yard with me. I had relearnt intro B the day before (having done it several times years ago) and walked through it. Slightly irritatingly, I did it all the wrong way as since I last used the dressage letters, they had been swapped over! My brain thought C was A and so on. Luckily I realised my error so on the Saturday, after a five minute warm up mostly in walk, I managed to ride through the test the right way round AND my boyfriend managed to video it.

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Watching the video back afterwards, I could have clearly done with more warming up time but on the flip side I could also see myself getting more uncomfortable as the test progressed. I couldn’t have done any more, it was a one shot (not) wonder!

Entering was easy, you select what you are going to enter and pay for it then upload your video or put forward a link to it on YouTube. Entries close on the 26th of the month so I was just in time!

So how did I do? I actually really don’t mind what percentage we got I am just proud to have ticked off a little goal in the long journey of getting my new hip into riding however results should be up tonight so I will let you know!

Update: I got 65.87%! Joint 7th so just out of the rosettes.

The question is, what should be my goal for October?

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Living My Life!

So here we are, nearly a week on from that top doctor advice that now I can ‘go and live my life’..  I thought I’d give a little update on how life is going.

The Downs

  • I’m fully back in the swing of my work schedule now.  I work 9.30-5.30 in one job and then work as a private tutor in the evenings which means..
  • I am SO pushed for riding time.  The evenings are rapidly getting darker and although I’m still only riding for short periods of time, when I ride after work on non tutoring days I feel so rushed!
  • Rushing is not good for my still recovering body.  After feeling so knackered from walking and mucking out ONE stable I have been doing some reading on how much muscle you lose from inactivity.  I am very much still getting my strength back, if I rest between activities I am ok but when I’m rushing I end up in pain or with cramp! It upsets me that this time last year at my old job there were 20 stables to muck out between two of us and this year I can barely do one!

The Ups

  • Although my brain is still stressed about work, money and time, I feel so much more relaxed about my leg.  I’ve been moving and sitting however I want and so far haven’t had any dodge moments since my restrictions have been lifted.
  • I’ve adjusted my mindset when it comes to my riding and it has made me feel much better.  My first ride made me feel like I had gone so far backwards and then as I did more to try to rectify that I was worried I was overdoing it.  I had some great advice that if I thought I was overdoing it.. I probably was and that aching is ok but not pain.  So I’ve stripped back my expectations and I stop when I get to the pain stage.  I’m treating my riding as though I’m starting from scratch again but am pleasantly progressing at a slightly accelerated rate than I did this time five years ago (when I first started riding!) I did something this week which was very exciting but I’m going to have to wait until next weekend to write about it.. watch this space!
  • I’m getting the hang of our new camera and so is my boyfriend.  We both love photography so it is nice to be able to take better quality pictures for my blog and social media.  We have a Canon with a 18-55 lense but are pondering what longer lense or waterproofing equipment we may need in the future (British Dressage Championships in the rain was tricky) – if anyone has any top tips please let me know!
  • I’m generally feeling more positive about the future with my scrummy pony, snazzy camera and bionic hip!

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