Back in the Saddle: Ferndale Woman Returns to Riding after Hip Replacements

By Katrina Dupins

Linda Porter of Ferndale loves horseback riding. She began taking lessons when she was 9 years old.

“That was the only way I had of riding when I was that young,” Porter said. “I didn’t get my own horse until I was about 50. But I always loved them. I love the outdoors and bonding with the horse.”

Porter owns two horses now: a thoroughbred and a small, black, trained three-day eventing Morgan/thoroughbred cross named Jitterbug Dancer, who “is a lot of fun to ride.”

Porter & Jitterbug

Linda Porter and Jitterbug prepare for lessons in dressage.

Several years ago, Porter began feeling stiffness in her joints. She thought it was muscle pain at first, and she was able to control the discomfort with medication. In 2019, the pain became more severe. She had trouble climbing stairs. Sitting down and getting up were difficult. She had to brace herself with her arms. She decided to seek advice from an orthopaedic specialist.

“It is important to know what hip pain is,” said C. Lowry Barnes, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine. “Oftentimes people think it’s near the hip. But true hip pain often presents itself in the groin, and people have a limited range of motion that interferes with normal daily activities.”

At one point, Porter says she could hardly sit in the saddle without pain. Mounting the horse was also difficult.

Porter & Jitterbug

Porter started riding again in March 2020 after recovering from two hip replacements.

“One of the things I liked about Dr. Barnes was that he really looked at my case carefully. I had such confidence in him,” Porter said. “Everyone on his staff was so supportive. They answered all my questions and treated me with respect.”

Porter scheduled both hip replacements within six weeks of each other. The first surgery was in September 2019, the second in November.

Eager to get back to riding, she made sure to follow Barnes’ advice carefully. After being released by Barnes, she went to a

physical therapist for strength training. Her husband also helped a lot during recovery.

“It was hard to wrap my mind around using a walker for three months,” she said. “But I knew it was important to follow Dr. Barnes’ instructions. You have to be strong to do what I do.”

Porter was back in the saddle by March 2020. Since then, she’s ridden joyfully about three to four times a week with Jitterbug. Twice a week, she and Jitterbug travel to Crestfield Farm on Crystal Valley Road in Little Rock for lessons in dressage.

“I think I would’ve been in a wheelchair if I didn’t have surgery when I did, Porter said. “I would tell someone who is in a similar situation not to wait as long as I did. It can be scary. But it is worth it. I got such a good result.”