I have always been a big believer that there is so much more to horses than riding. For most riders there will be a time where they can’t ride for some reason whether it is surgery, an accident, horse injury, weather or something else. Obviously over the last few weeks I have been in this position so here are a few suggestions for things to do to keep horsey when you can’t ride (which are geared towards the non walking for obvious reasons!)
- Give your tack a birthday! Even if you are religious about cleaning your tack after every ride, tack can always benefit from a thorough clean and condition. Better to get anything mended when you don’t need it!
- Sort out your grooming kit. Clean those brushes, chuck out anything broken, replace anything you are missing. I have had my Eqclusive HAAS brushes for a year and love them but this is the first time they have had a proper clean!
- Groom that horse! I can’t get her in from the field but being able to shuffle around is good enough to give Pea a good groom, particularly if I’ve got my mum to help me. It is amazing what you can achieve with good brushes and a bit of Canter Mane & Tail – her tail has never been so silky!
- Organise the lotions and potions. I tend to use my car as a moving horse care cupboard but every now and again I do a seasonal sort out – if it is July you do need fly repellent and suncream, you don’t need pig oil and mud cream. Put the winter stuff away.. or at least for a little while longer.
- Make some lotions and potions! Mum and I made some hoof dressing out of lard, oil and tree tree the other day. Next on the list is some milk, fairy liquid and glycerin based tack cleaner.
- Sort out your photos. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bit of an ‘insta kid’. I take ALOT of photos and sometimes they don’t get very far. Delete the bad ones, print the good ones, put them up on the walls. Remind yourself of what you love doing and what you want to achieve.
- Display your rosettes. It may be because I came to riding so late but I love a rosette – even the completing the fun ride ones! Put them up somewhere and remind yourself of what you have to be proud of or just to add a bit of colour to a wall.
- Go and watch someone else. I’ve been to local riding club dressage and the Hartpury Festival of Dressage. If you can’t ride you can still pick up some tips from others.
- Make plans. Work out your schedule for when you can ride again whether that is planning how you are going to build up your fitness, booking lessons or looking up your next competition.
I’m sure before long I will have a whole new set of activities to add to this as I am getting so much closer to walking. In fact today I walked from the field shelter to the gate in Pea’s little paddock without my crutch. I might be ‘can’t ride’ for a few weeks more but I’m nearly at ‘can walk’!
I actually feel amazing today, probably for the first time in a long time! My wound has healed up really well into a pretty neat scar. The horrible scabby, bumpy indented wound with the swollen, numb skin around it that I showed in Sleeping, Scoffing And Stepping Through Week Two is amazingly well healed. I don’t think I even need to warn you not to look now.. unless you don’t want to see bare skin!
My physio had okayed me to go swimming but I have been putting it off until my scar was good. Today was the day. As I mentioned in My Hip Journey So Far, swimming used to be a big part of my life and has been slightly pushed out by horses in the last few years. Even so, every time I go, I love it. This time last year I joined a team in an overnight 12 hour swimathon and racked up over three and a half miles of swimming in four sessions. I hadn’t trained or prepared for it, it was knackering going through the night but it was amazing. Today didn’t quite feel as triumphant but it was pretty good.
Part of the reason I wanted to go swimming was to have a go at walking in the pool. Although the resistance is greater in water, you are supported and it was so much easier to walk in the water (unattended) than it is on land. I also did my standing exercises in the water and didn’t have to cling onto anything for support like I do normally. Aside from all that, I swam, normally, just like I used to. It felt incredible. I also used my kick board to just do kick – with all this crutch work my arms don’t need anymore of a work out! It would have been far too easy to overdo it but I made sure I didn’t do too much and I rested up and floated around the rest of the time!
It is worth me mentioning that as amazing as the swimming was, getting changed and negotiating the wet changing rooms on crutches wasn’t easy. Luckily I had my mum with me to help me with my stuff and to give and take away my crutches at the right time. My local swimming pool has steps with a handrail in the shallow pool too which meant I could get into the pool myself once I was at the top of the steps!
Not quite sure how I’m going to feel tomorrow, if I’m not too knackered I’m definitely going to go swimming again this weekend. Without sounding completely big headed, being the best swimmer in the pool even though I’m five weeks post hip replacement was great for my ego!
I wasn’t going to do a five week update as all the important next steps are earmarked for the six week mark HOWEVER this blog wouldn’t accurately document my journey if I missed out the feelings of this week.
Up until this point I have been really pleased with my progress, the op went well, the wound is good, the physio is going well, everything has been getting easier and I have pretty much smashed all of the goals set out for me in the generic hip replacement document and those I have set for myself. That is until this week. I have been panicking about the fact that six weeks should be the point at which I can walk unaided but I can’t see how that is going to be possible. I can speed along with two crutches or one as long as I’m not tired, I am walking 2-4km a day but when I try to take a step unaided, I just can’t keep my right leg (my good leg) off the ground for enough time to take proper steps. I just can’t do it.
My boyfriend has reminded me that in the space of a week (last week) I went from lying on my side and not being able to lift my left leg off the other one at all to being able to lift it right up several times. My mum said that it doesn’t matter how many weeks I am on crutches, my brain will let me walk when my body is ready. My top visitor Rachel (from My Last Week Of Pony Freedom), who has visited me every other week since my operation, said that it is just like when you are running up a sand dune; you start off with good forward momentum and then at some point it gets hard-going but you can work through it and get to the top eventually.
All this, and reading people’s words on the Facebook support group, reminded me that this is my journey and that each hip replacement recovery is individual. It doesn’t really matter what it says in the book, it doesn’t really matter what other people do. I desperately want to walk next week, I even had a dream last night that I could, but if I can’t, it is not the end of the world.
At the school I used to work at we used to talk about the children owning their own behaviour (essentially taking responsibility for their own actions and not getting bogged down in what other people are doing). I have decided to embrace my own journey and own my own recovery!
I can’t believe four weeks have passed since my operation! I have had quite a busy week and I feel physically tired in the old familiar way I used to before my operation (although from a lot less activity!)
When I wrote my week three blog, I aimed to get more secure using one crutch, which I have but I am still using two for proper walking. If I wasn’t doing very much I think I would be fine on one but I have spent a lot more time at the yard and doing other things which involve lots of standing around and walking and my leg gets tired quickly. When it is tired I can’t walk properly with one crutch, I guess it is just not time yet.
I am now able to walk up the stairs normally, just holding onto the hand rail which is amazing. I take my crutch with me and put it on the steps my left leg goes on but that is only really because I need it when I get back onto the flat!
The big aim this week was to get back to work. I have done several tutoring sessions and one full day back at the shop where I work. Everyone has been very understanding and considerate and it has all gone really well. I did have a major brain fuzz when I was first in the shop but I soon remembered what I was doing! It isn’t going to help my tiredness but I need the money!
Another change this week has been that I have started to forget that I am on crutches. Sometimes I find myself standing up and then realising I have to sit back down to get a crutch otherwise I can’t go anywhere! As long as I don’t have to go very far there are some things I can do crutch free.. this morning I had a proper standing up shower (without the shower stool) and managed to get in and out without a crutch, I am also pretty good at grooming and tacking up with as little movement as possible!
Things ARE still moving forwards but I’m feeling more and more frustrated that I still have two more weeks before things really change. I still have to wait two more weeks until I have my next physio session and can (in theory) ditch the crutches, ditch the anti-embolism stockings, start sleeping on my side and start driving. My parents will also be going back home to Devon in two weeks which is going to be a massive change for me. My mum has done SO much for me and aside from the fact that she is helping, it has been so lovely to have them close by for a change and spending some time together with our patchy pets.
I am predicting that the next two weeks are going to be quite tough, I am working a few days a week and resuming my normal tutoring schedule as well as spending more time at the yard and trying to continue to progress. Mentally, the tricky thing is that I also feel a bit like being four weeks down the line means I should be just cracking on with life and that I shouldn’t still be all about the hip anymore. I don’t want to bore people, I don’t want to be a broken record but my recovery is the big thing going on right now and it is pretty all consuming.