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‘A part of me was taken away’: rider returns to the saddle after major surgery

A rider who was forced to give up horses owing to the agony caused by her undiagnosed hip dysplasia is back in the saddle — and wants others in the same situation to know they are not alone.

Abbie Casey thought aged 22 she would never ride again and said “a part of me was taken away”.

She told H&H her hip dysplasia — where the ball and socket of the joint do not fit together properly — was not diagnosed in her infancy, as is more often the case.

“I got to adulthood in a lot of pain,” Abbie said. “I was on morphine but [the pain] was constant. Doctors told me it was riding causing it, but eventually I had an MRI and they said: ‘Actually, you need surgery’.”

Abbie lives in Southampton but the surgery was only available in London and she faced a long wait, without knowing whether or not she would be able to ride again afterwards.

“My life had completely changed,” she said. “My mum still had her horses but I didn’t even want to go up there with her, or watch anyone else ride.”

Eventually, over a period of years, Abbie underwent major surgery on both hips, the second this spring. Some six months later, she was back in the saddle.

“The first time, I was so scared,” she said. “What if it hurt, or it hadn’t worked — but it was amazing, like that part of me was back. It was just awesome.”

At first Abbie rode her mother’s horse, but this month her parents bought her a 10-year-old Connemara mare called Lady.

“Mum wanted her horse back!” Abbie said.

“I’ve always had youngsters and more complicated horses but now I just want one who’s safe and will look after me, and have my hobby back.”

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Abbie said she had been unable to find anyone else who had undergone the surgery she was due to have and been able to ride afterwards, so she wants to give hope to anyone suffering the same condition.

“I felt I was really on my own,” she said. “I’ve now found more people like me getting back to riding after the operations.

“I thought I’d never be riding again and that wasn’t the case at all so I want to raise awareness.”

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