A rider who returned to the saddle aged 73 after a neck operation, crippling arthritis and two hip replacements said if her story inspires anyone else to ride again, it will “make her very happy”.
Angela Fallowfield, from Dorset, had thought she would not ride again, but having recovered from her surgery, started riding her granddaughter’s pony Autumn last year.
“I was inspired by The Queen – I thought if she can ride, at 90-something, then so can I!” Mrs Fallowfield told H&H.
“I’ve had two cataract operations too – there’s not much of the original me left – and I did think ‘that’s it now, I’m in my 70s’; I really didn’t think I’d ride again.”
Mrs Fallowfield has spent her life with horses; she was first pictured in the saddle when she was 13 months old. And although her marriage and children put her riding on hold temporarily, she always returned to the saddle.
“About 20 years ago, I had a stupid accident with my horse on a bridleway,” she said. “He had a funny trip and I wrenched my neck, and he injured his fetlock and had to be put down.
“I had to have an operation, which stopped me riding for a while, but by then my elder daughter was riding quite seriously, and when she had children, I rode her horse.
“My doctor told me not to ride after my neck operation, but I thought, blow that!”
Mrs Fallowfield kept riding, her horses “getting smaller”, as she moved on to her older granddaughter’s 14.2hh.
“But then the arthritis got so bad, I couldn’t get on or off,” she said. “By last March, I was absolutely crippled; I could barely walk, so I had the first hip replacement.
“That went so well, and I was walking with a stick within two weeks, and I had the other one done four and a half months later.”
In October 2018, it was too dark for Mrs Fallowfield’s younger granddaughter Molly to ride her 14.2hh mare Autumn after school.
“I’d seen The Queen riding and mumbled about it myself, then my daughter said: ‘why don’t you come up and ride her?” she said.
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“I thought I couldn’t but found I still could; I’ve been riding ever since. Nothing very exciting, but I’m back on a horse. There’s nothing like the feel of the reins between your fingers.
“We’re a very horsey family so I’ve been involved with them all the time but there’s nothing quite like being back on board. If my story helps just one person ride again when they thought it was impossible, I shall be very happy!”
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