In The Saddle: I’m finally getting back on the horse!

Anita Marsh
Anita Marsh
  • Housebound for three and a half months
  • On horseback again after op
  • Hoping to be back for trials at the end of the season

I can finally celebrate.

After three and a half months of being housebound with a knee injury, and a subsequent operation, I have experienced the eureka moment of being able to sit on my mare’s back and get back ‘in the saddle’.

My surgeon warned me after the operation it could take at least 6-12 weeks to return to my pre-operation fitness - including riding, driving and walking unaided.

I bombarded him with my list of questions...when can I walk across the field? (hurts on uneven ground) when can I go in the stable? (couldn’t go in for two weeks for risk of infection) and the so list went on.

The last time I saw him I was given the go ahead to ride April, my tri-coloured mare whom I had not been able to ride, groom or pick her feet out for over three months.

I’d had to hire in help to come to my home to keep April in the best of health whilst I recovered whilst my poor family helped with the housework.

I have experienced the eureka moment of being able to sit on my mare’s back and get back in the saddle

Anita Marsh

It took me a further ten days from the initial go-ahead to be able to mount and get back on-board, and boy did I smile (and wince) when I managed it.

With the help of a very tall mounting block and a friend getting both on and off was not my finest hour.

Thankfully my friend caught April, tacked her up for me and walked her to the mounting block.

I thought I’d be off trotting around and having a fine old time. However, the surgeon warned me on my first few occasions I might actually only be physically able to manage five minutes at a time due to the pain, as I still have fluid on my knee and have not quite recovered ‘full bend’ movement. He was so right.

The first time I was gutted to find I couldn’t lift my knee to mount (or dismount properly) and my ankle oddly felt so weak, something I hadn’t noticed whilst using crutches.

My right leg was completely useless and just hung there (in pain) but I did walk my horse in the paddock for five minutes, backing up my leg aid with a tap of my whip...very gently.

My horse sensed I was injured. She was very calm, if a little confused by my leg commands which had changed slightly since the right knee wasn’t very effective. She adapted and listened to the new commands I was giving.

Usually to walk on you squeeze with both heels, but I couldn’t so I squeezed with my good leg and tapped her behind my bad leg with my whip gently.

I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me start to ride again, from the support of my family and friends through to Mr Pacheco, my surgeon, the wonderful blonde nurse ‘Shona’ on the Isle, Natalie from A Star Equestrian and finally - a huge thank you to my husband for helping with my horse on the days I can’t change her rug or bring her in.

Whilst competing might be out for me at the moment, just to sit on April has already left me feeling on top of the world.

Although, with much patience and being careful I am ever hopeful I can do Bagmoor Hunter Trials at the end of the season.