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

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!

Back To School

It has been another big week for me!  I started my new job (back in a school) on Monday and today Pea and I went for our first lesson since my hip replacement.

I’ve had a few really sluggish and frustrating schooling sessions recently and I decided I am better enough to gain something from a lesson.  I feel like I’ve got use of my leg back but I’ve completely forgotten how to ride! I spoke to my instructor and we agreed that she would ride Pea for half the time and I would ride the rest.

It didn’t start particularly well – we haven’t taken the trailer out since before my operation, we have a different car and just generally hadn’t quite prepared that side of things!  Once we’d located a key for the hitch lock, botch job attached the correct number plate to the trailer and pumped up the tires, I made my boyfriend drive along the yard track and back to convince me I was happy to put Pea in.  We have a bad track record of trailer outings being a bit stressful and this one was no exception.

HOWEVER, once we were there (only five minutes late) it was all worth it!  My instructor rode for a while which is so good for Pea because she doesn’t often (ever?) have anyone riding her who can actually ride!  She’s had fairly limited proper schooling in her ridden career and definitely showed that.  I then got on and had a lesson.  We are working on getting Pea more forward, accepting the contact and becoming more supple.

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I am SO aware that my instructor riding Pea set her up to go better for me than she does when I get on cold but it still wasn’t easy, I still had to find those buttons.  I feel like I rode better today than I did in my last lesson (before my operation) so I’m feeling very positive about where we are going riding-wise and I left with the biggest smile on my face!

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As you can see, being a fluffy, unrugged wild pony isn’t very conducive with being a dressage diva.. Pea was SWEATY.  If anyone has any bright suggestions as to how to deal with it I’d love to hear them – it is too cold for proper washing, is clipping my only option now?

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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Week Ten/Day One

At ten weeks post hip replacement this morning I felt like I had pretty much bossed most normal person activities (walking unaided, driving, cycling, working and sleeping on my side).  Now I have attempted what feels like the last piece of the puzzle (riding Pea) I feel like I am starting a whole new journey from day one.

If we rewind to this morning, I had an appointment with my physio.  Last time she saw me I still had a crutch some of the time and I hadn’t started driving yet so for me to bounce in on my own she was pretty impressed.  She pointed out that although I’m not as wonky as  I was, I’m collapsing my upper body to the left because that is how my body is stabilising.  Obviously this isn’t what I should be doing so I’ve got lots more tough exercises to do to straighten me up and strengthen my core and need to spend a bit more time in front of a mirror to check I’m doing it right!  I asked her what she thought about me riding and she said that if I felt I would be ok, it would probably be good for me to get back to it.

I had a busy morning helping out at the yard and when it was over, I managed to get Pea in, brush her and get ready to ride.  I had built up in my mind that as soon as I was given the go ahead to ride, my body would be ready and that riding would mark the end of my proper recovery time.  That wasn’t really the case.  Getting on was fine but I couldn’t sit properly in the saddle as my hip just wouldn’t open up as wide as it needed to – it felt stretched and it hurt!  I had a walk around the arena and I felt my bum settle down into the saddle more rather than being sat on the back like it was at the beginning.  My leg wasn’t exactly hanging down, I didn’t feel like I could push my heel down, there was a funny crunching feeling when I moved and it hurt.  Dismounting was fine, I practically laid on Pea with my legs together then swung them round together.

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I got off feeling pretty devastated – I didn’t expect to be cantering round the arena but I did expect to be able to sit and walk comfortably.  I had to hark back to my own advice on positivity from the other day and think I’m probably still in the wallowing stage though I am very aware how lucky I am to even be sitting on a pony!

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I need to wind my expectations in and realise that the return to riding is going to be a long journey.  Today was day one, stage one – sitting on my pony.  It might take me weeks to be able to sit properly, or trot, or ride for more than a few minutes.  I’m going to try to be patient – after all, I’m 26, Pea’s 12, all things being well we have many many more years together.

Any words of wisdom to help me with this would be most welcome – there is a trustly booklet from the NHS for hip replacement recovery but I’m yet to find a returning to riding one!

Week Six – (Partial) Freedom

Lets just take a look at this picture for a minute.

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That’s right, no socks and no crutch – you would almost be forgiven for thinking that this is a pre hip replacement picture.. except for the fact that I have the most fantastically brown knees and the whitest shins!  And I’m wearing a dress at the yard still.

Let’s not get too excited.  I am 100% sock free but I am not 100% crutch free.   I was so panicked in Week Five – Owning My Own Recovery, thinking I would not be able to walk by the six week mark but things have steadily improved since then.  I went from standing on my left leg, to doing tiny steps across the room to being able to walk across the yard or the field.  Yesterday it was six weeks since my operation and my physio okayed me to walk unaided when I feel I am walking properly (or as properly as I can) but advised me to use my crutch when I am feeling stiff or tired.  I know all too well the damage caused by walking incorrectly so I am quite accepting of this.  I don’t want to hobble and limp around and do myself more harm than good.

My physio is pleased with how I am doing, particularly my ‘normal person’ stair climbing.  She has given me a few extra exercises to do to continue to build my left leg strength and suggested I try cycling since due to the other medical situation of this week (see here) I am not allowed to swim at the moment.  There is quite a big part of me that thinks I’m more likely to fall off a bike than Pea but I’m adamant not to ride her until I can get her in from the field and do all the pre and post ride pony care stuff myself.  I’ll let you know how cycling goes when I give it a try!

Being six weeks post op also means I’m allowed to sleep on my side (although I am playing it safe with a pillow between my knees).  I cannot describe the difference it makes to have bare legs and be able to curl my legs up on my side in bed.  The weeks of dreading going to bed are OVER!

In other news, I drove for the first time today.  I’m fine.  My leg is fine.  I may have given my boyfriend whiplash from practising my emergency stops!  I didn’t go on the road today, just the track to and next to the yard, but I’m confident that I am road ready now!

The toughest six weeks are out of the way, I can now carefully negotiate what I am calling part two of my recovery.  Pea seemed to genuinely notice that I wasn’t wearing my socks, I’m hoping I’ve got plenty more surprises in store for her in the next few weeks!

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