How to Deal with Horseback Riding and Hip Replacement

"Nancy Brown cattle drive"
Equestrian Writer Nancy Brown on a cattle drive at High Lonesome Ranch in DeBeque, Colorado.

During my elementary school years, I remember taking my horse swimming while riding bareback.  I remember standing my horse, walking away from my horse, and taking a running start, vaulting onto my horse, while he patiently stood still.

Horse-loving baby boomer

Fast forward forty years and you have an over-weight, horse-loving, baby boomer who is not aging gracefully. These days, I rely on a mounting block or bale of hay to step into the saddle.

Hip dysplasia and horseback riding

Due to my hip dysplasia, I’m no longer able to reach my left foot into the stirrup from a standing position on the ground. My left leg only lifts off the ground so far.  This deterioration of my hips, due to minimal cartilage, is frustrating for me, but thanks to advances in the medical industry, I’ll have a new ceramic hip soon.

No pain in the saddle

Fortunately for me, I don’t experience any pain in my joints when I am horseback riding. It’s getting on and off the horse that is difficult.  After years of walking with a slight limp and at the insistence of my husband, I made a follow up appointment with an Orthopaedic Specialist. The x-ray of my hips from 2011 to 2012 showed much less cartilage in my left hip than the year prior. It was time for total hip replacement (THR) surgery.

"High Lonesome Ranch cattle drive"
Looking ahead to clear skies, green pastures and horseback riding vacations.

Preparing for joint replacement surgery

In addition to my twice weekly deep water aerobics class, I have been able to continue horseback riding with the aid of a mounting block.

As you read this blog post, I am in the hospital having Total Hip Arthroplasty. I’ll keep you posted on my recovery, physical therapy and eventual return to horseback riding.

Have you had and type of joint replacement surgery, be it knee or hip replacement?  Have you been able to go on a horseback riding vacation?

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4 thoughts on “How to Deal with Horseback Riding and Hip Replacement”

  1. Good luck and good wishes, Nancy! I took a long hiatus from the saddle due to a course of high-dose prednisone for an inflammatory disorder. Once I got off the ‘roids, I had to build some muscle back. Yep, I use a mounting block. Heal up and get well soon.

  2. Hi Nancy!
    How is your recovery coming along? Did the surgery go well? Have you started PT yet? (I know, question, question, questions!)

    Nancy, years ago I was shot through both legs. I lost half of my quad on my left and the bullet lodged in the bottom of my femur, fracturing my knee on the right. The doctors saved my leg and very sadly told me that with much work (pain) I would walk again… I would never run, climb mountains and certainly, I would never ride again.

    It was hard. It was horrible. It was hell. It lasted forever….and I really wanted to just STOP and die.

    I was a guide and my biggest passion was riding.

    I was riding (with the help of some really strong pain killers) within two months.
    I was walking without a cane within 6 months (once I realized I limped more with it). I was riding my mountain bike the following summer (following others that felt the “need” to run!! LOL) and riding every day.
    4 years later, I was hunting for Sheep.

    I believed then, as I do now, that the strength comes from inside us… You WILL heal, You WILL mount/dismount, and you WILL ride…

    I’ll be praying for your recovery and hoping that WE, you and I, will ride out together one day.
    ~Amber-Lee, aka Alaska Chick

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