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maura 11-21-2009 08:47 AM

riding after knee replacement surgery
Would love to hear from anyone who's had partial or total knee replacement and what it was like for them returning to riding.

I am slated for one or the other of the procedures soon, and am very concerned about my return to riding.

Most of my background is in hunter seat/eventing, though now I mostly trail and pleasure ride, the ability to get out of the saddle and stay in a balanced two point is critical.

Looking forward to hearing from folks!

Loosewolf 11-21-2009 09:55 AM

Well, I think I can safely say this ..
The techniques and equipment available today should present little restrictions on your normal life, after a good time of proper healing has taken place.
Have you discussed this with your Doctor yet? He may find that after full recovery, riding may be a therapeutic benefit. When you discuss it with him, I would put emphasis on the type of technique you will be using with your riding..Ie; mounting (a mounting block will be definate), the amount (or lack of) stress put in your stirrups, and so on.This will give your surgeon a clearer picture as to what is involved with riding..Highly likely he does not ride himself so, good descriptions will have to come from you. Bracing, wrapping, motion limiting/ support for your knee will likely be a part of it but, your Dr. will give confirmation on that end
NOT an MD but, I have faith you'll do time..

hiwaythreetwenty 11-21-2009 09:56 AM

While I didn't have full or partial knee replacement but I did have a patellar tendon rupture and it is pretty darn close to the level of rehab and damage done if not more. As knee replacement your get full mobility back I did not. I have had three surgeries on it and this summer was finally able to compete in eventing again and feel secure. The biggest thing is keep your legs strong after surgery if you don't then it is much more difficult to ride at that level. I was able to trail ride between surgeries and besides normal pains I didn't feel insecure. Best of luck it is a long rode but I am sure you will be thankful in the end.

maura 11-21-2009 10:44 AM

Thanks for the good advice.

I currently use a very tall mounting block that my wonderful spouse built for me; it allows me to throw my right leg directly over my horses's back while standing flat footed on the block; so I don't have to bear all my weight in my left stirrup while twisting and swinging over.

It's very painful even to mount from a short mounting block or a truck bed or trailer fender. I even dismount onto my tall block to minimize knee pain.

My doctor clearly doesn't understand the specific stresses of horseback riding; while a sports medicine guy, I think he's in that group of folks that thinks it's not really exercise because the horse does all the work. :lol: So that advice, to make sure he really understands what my expectations are, is particularly on point.

I've ridden in the Sprenger stirrups for years, I don't know how anyone over 40 rides without them.

Thanks for your posts, would love to hear more.

Loosewolf 11-21-2009 11:12 AM

It is simple..Let your body tell you when you have reached a safe limit..
Let yourself have the right amount of time to acclimate to the bio-mechanical changes this surgery may or may not bring.(any limitations, if AT ALL)
Finally besides a ton of common sense, google too is helpful (knowledge knowledge knowledge!) about your complete situation, padding your odds (and any appropriate body areas) is always a good thing. See that the ground conditions are good enough to be safe, come up to the level of technique you are able achieve SLOWLY! do not push it...
Just take EVERY OPPORTUNITY to protect your knee, and take real good care of the "good" one...
..and that should be it!
God Bless, take good care...Lw

dunsjump 11-21-2009 01:14 PM

My mom had a bilateral knee replacement (which in medical terms, means both knees at the same time) in November of 2007. She doesn't have the full bend she did with her "real" knees, but they have helped a lot and she can now walk like a normal person. As far as riding goes, she was never a big rider before and she does not ride at all now. She is too scared of falling off, even on the safe horses, and injuring her "new" knees. She has been on a horse once since and had a lot of trouble getting on and off because of the motion of her knees.

However, I think if she was a really dedicated rider before her surgery she would be back doing what she was doing as soon as she was cleared by the doctors to do it. It has made her quality of life better and I'm sure it will help yours...

Best of luck!

horsequeen373 11-21-2009 05:47 PM

I too am more then likely going to have to get total knee replacements at some point within the next year or so :( and I'm only 15. My plan is to do everything possible to avoid knee replacements (I do physical therapy twice a week, go to a sports medicine doctor, who specilizes in knees and is the best in the state, every 4-6 weeks, I ride without stirrups, I stretch, I wear braces, ice them constantly, etc). But it's not looking too hopeful in avoiding knee replacements.

hiwaythreetwenty 11-21-2009 06:19 PM

Mounting blocks are huge I nearly never get on my horse anymore from the ground and I have taught her to use whatever I put her up to for me to get on. Unfortunately on trail rides that means that in order for me to stop I have to have a remounting locations but it normally works out. Good luck! Just as a warning most non horse people don't understand us thankfully my doctor had ridden before so he understood when my question before surgery was when can i ride again, but the physical therapist thought I was nuts especially since I got injured riding a horse, but I won in the end.

maura 11-21-2009 06:41 PM


I am so sorry to hear that. It's a little different for me; I'm 51. I can't imagine facing these surgeries at your age. I rode professionally in my 20s and 30s, sometimes 10 or more horses a day. In my late thirties I changed careers and lifestyles, had a child and got an office job and settled for pleasure riding a couple times a week.

However, I now have horses at home and have been able to ride more regularly, so this is a blow. I have tried joint fluid replacement shots, braces, cortisone shots, lots of different meds, icing before and after. I've also had this knee scoped and cleaned up once; and a procedure called a lateral release along with scoping after that. Got back to riding really quickly after both the previous procedures. I've done lots of PT as part of the recovery from those procedures.

I'm also seriously considering mounting from the right -- it will absolutely break my brain to relearn the habit of 40 years, but my right knee is in much better shape. Both horses are sweet, sensible QHs - one has done cattle work so is probably used to being mounted from both sides.

I've known I was heading for partial or total for years, I just thought I could manage it a little longer without resorting to this invasive a surgery.

Recovering from this surgery and looking at fat, happy horses in my front field is going to be tough....

Loosewolf 11-21-2009 06:51 PM


Originally Posted by maura (Post 468294)
Recovering from this surgery and looking at fat, happy horses in my front field is going to be tough....

AH! still, and fortunately...
"This too, shall pass"

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