How to Ride After Total Hip Replacement

Dream Ridge Stables, horseback riding, hip replacement
You know the saying, “it takes a village.” I recently had the opportunity to get back in the saddle after my second total hip replacement. As a freelance writer, I specialize in equestrian travel for my work. With my first hip replacement two years ago, my surgeon wanted me to hang up my cowboy hat and retire my riding boots. The dangers of falling off a horse with a ceramic ball joint that could break were a valid concern, but I wasn’t willing to give up horseback riding vacations. Now, three months after my right hip replacement, I was worried about my range of motion (ROM) getting back on the horse.

dream ridge stables, horseback riding, hip replacement
Getting back in the saddle at Dream Ridge Stables.

I had planned a road trip to Oregon wine country and found an equestrian center 30 minutes outside of Portland. Dream Ridge Stables Owner Karen Brauer and her trail guides were happy to help get me up on a horse and back in the saddle for a trail ride. I had notified the stables ahead of time regarding my recent joint replacement and my request for a calm horse and mounting block. Dream Ridge Stables was a dream come true for me. Karen had selected Latigo, a 16 year old Quarter Horse who was steady as a rock, yet moved out on the trail.

horseback riding, hip replacement, dream ridge stables
Use a mounting block

With all of her equestrian students and trail riders, Karen reviews horse safety, brings riders into the indoor arena to go over basic riding instruction and then takes guests out into the pasture before taking them on the trail. While an experienced equestrian, this refresher course on Western riding was welcomed by me, as it gave me time to relax and remember to take a deep breath once I was back in the saddle.

joint replacement, range of motion, horseback riding
Range of motion after joint replacement

As noted in my blog post on horseback riding after hip replacement, range of motion (ROM) is limited after surgery. It is important to stretch before attempting to get on a horse. Keep in mind that mounting blocks are your friend. Not only do they save the horse’s back, they help to save your joints from further wear and tear.

horseback riding, joint replacement, dream ridge stables
Horseback riding after joint replacement

Don’t forget to take a deep breath and settle into the saddle after you have mounted the horse. Sit up straight, relax and enjoy the ride. I found it helpful to drop my stirrups if my hip (or your knee) felt tight and needed a short break. Of course, I took my feet out of the stirrups when the horse was walking – not moving at a fast pace – and rotated my ankles around before putting them back in the stirrups. In closing, I’d like to thank my surgeon, physical therapists at Lafayette Physical Therapy and the team at Dream Ridge Stables for getting me back in the saddle after total hip replacement. It really did take a village and I’m so grateful for everyone’s support! Do you have a physical disability or joint replacement that’s keeping you from exercising? I’d love to hear your comments on the subject.

Nancy Brown, horseback riding, hip replacement
Riding after total hip replacement

If You Go:
Dream Ridge Stables (503) 631-8466
20524 S Ridge Road
Oregon City, Oregon

Article by Equine Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Dream Ridge Stables while researching additional travel articles for Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory. Please check the stables website for current trail ride and lesson pricing.