A rider who returned to eventing following two hip replacements hopes to encourage others to continue doing what they love, and has formed a support group for riders recovering from surgery.
Derbyshire-based Becky Mullan-Feroze, 57, had her first hip replacement aged 44, and her second aged 48. Becky suffers with osteoarthritis but said fracturing her hip and pelvis in a rotational fall in 1990 had exacerbated the problem.
“I had to have early replacements and my surgeon said I wouldn’t ride again,” she told H&H.
“I didn’t know anyone that had had replacements so it was a really anxious time and I was looking for information and support but couldn’t find any.”
Before her first operation, Becky changed surgeons and said her new surgeon, James Hutchinson of Derby Royal Hospital, was supportive of her returning to the saddle.
“Dr Hutchinson was fantastic,” she said. “He said they want to get replacements into people who want to keep going and that life is about living. He really encouraged me – he warned there are risks; if you break your prosthesis then it can be quite dramatic, but he said falls are only as likely to break your hip as they were before.
“I returned to riding and competing after 11 weeks. On my first event back at Stafford my stirrup leather snapped going over the first fence and I completed the course with my stirrup in my hand. When I next saw my surgeon I said ‘I don’t need to see you again, I’m fixed!’
“At all my checks and X-rays he said because I’ve been riding I’ve stayed very strong. He’s not advocating riding post hip replacement if you haven’t ridden before, but he’s saying you should be able to carry on doing what you really enjoy.”
Becky underwent surgery for her other hip in 2012 and returned to the saddle seven weeks later.
“It’s been the best thing ever, most of the time I forget I have them,” she said, adding that owing to her osteoarthritis she is waiting to have both her knees replaced.
“I have the same surgeon, and while he said knees are a bit more complicated, I’m less concerned now.”
In 2019 Becky set up Facebook group Riding after replacement & other injuries, which now has 800 members.
‘It was amazing to ride again, like that part of me was back. It was just awesome.’
‘I did think ‘that’s it now, I’m in my 70s’; I really didn’t think I’d ride again’
“You can feel quite isolated going in for that sort of surgery,” she said. “Since setting up the group I can’t believe how many riders have replacement bits and how many are going forward for them. Globally we have people from all over the world sharing their experiences. And it’s not necessarily about as you get older, we have lots of younger people in the group too.
“It’s about us saying things are possible and it’s not the end of your riding. There’s been some really interesting and informative discussions. It’s extended to people who have had some major injuries and things like spinal surgery.
“I’m not saying everyone should ride, they’ve got to want to, but some of the ideas being shared such as exercises, or tips for first getting back on, or the most supportive stirrups, gives people that encouragement and support that makes you feel able to crack on.”
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