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View Full Version : Mature or Reriders - How do you do it?



ProzacPuppy
May. 19, 2009, 08:10 AM
I've started riding again after a break of about 35 years and while I'm still only working on trotting I have to ask - how the heck do you do it?

I've spent so long trailing along behind my daughter at shows watching her and her peers compete in the jumpers that I was lulled into a false sense of competence. Those JR/AOs make it look SOOOOO EASY. I was a fool.

I only take lessons once a week but I am stiff and sore even without falling off, I still don't have terrific balance and often get left behind when we go from a walk to a trot (feels like the horse is "jumping" into the trot", trotting poles I often get "left in the air"....

And so much to remember - sit up, sit back, heels down, don't lean, hands steady.....

I'm serious here - any advice for an aged rerider to ease back into the sport? The horse is a big, kind and forgiving WB mare who has every right to stomp my butt into the arena sand for all the mixed signals, back bouncing, clinging to neck etc.

Any exercises to get in better shape for riding? Any hints on how to get better balance in the saddle?

And forget about that sitting trot!!! If you have lumbar disc damage it is a b*tch.

Kudos to all those that I've ever watched in the showring - children, teens, adults. You guys are amazing.

Fly_High
May. 19, 2009, 08:15 AM
Those that say you never forget are lying. Haha I took 5 years off for college and came back a total mess, now yeh it was a lot easier to get back into the swing because I understood the concepts but it takes time to get your body into the shape you need to be successful. Don't stress too much. Your body will catch up and you will be fine. My suggestion is to take hot shower after you ride to help with muscle ache and always stretch before and after you ride. The rest is just muscle memory. Soon you will be going along without any problems and you will wonder why you found it so difficult. ;)

Summit Springs Farm
May. 19, 2009, 08:21 AM
You have to ride more often and as many horses as you can get your hands on. Any type of working out to get in better shape helps too. If you are fit and in shape, it will all come:D back !!!!

ReSomething
May. 19, 2009, 08:47 AM
Those that say you never forget are lying. . . . . ;)
And THAT is the truth more than anything. My first instructor said I needed saddle time, lots of it, and that was true too.

I've been back riding now for about 4-5 years after a long time off. Gave up my horse in '75, rode off and on, more off than on till '81, then quit cold turkey till 2004. First thing you have to do is get your body back in shape. Get a good stretching program going, start exercises that target your balance. Wii FIT maybe, the ball, some Yoga. A good gym is an excellent place to start. Watch out for that lower back (but a good sitting trot really involves the hip joints too).
I did the H/J thing and I was frustrated to the point of tears more than once. Did quit, but more because of the usual combinations of things, distance, time, like that. Started saddleseat. Should be easy peasy. Well, every time we did a downward transition or cantered off I was all over the place. The balance is different. Very erect, always seated, I was used to tipping just a tad, and two pointing - correct or not I don't know - but I never got left behind at an upward transition. Never (rarely) got a real lift up and sit down tidy downward transition though either.
I was quite bemused at first, and then decided I better get to work. Working on the weight (Menopause paugh!), Yoga for stretching, low impact cardio. I have to confess here that I went to the chiro for the first time in my life yesterday. My schoolhorse is deathly afraid of the tractor and bounced and danced all through the lesson Thursday, sitting the canter is difficult enough, "airs above the ground" were a little much.

'Kay, anyway. Saddle time with defined goals. Private lessons when you can get them (I cheated oh-so-much, just waited for my horse to take the cue from the group). Support and work on your balance and strength outside the arena. Flatwork. It can be done. Good luck.

monalisa
May. 19, 2009, 09:01 AM
I think you need to ride more than once a week. I took a 15-year hiatus and started riding again in my 30's which is much easier than it would be today. But I rode a lot when I started back - like 4-5 times a week - and I think it makes a real difference. There are few other sports that duplicate the muscles you use in riding so I think you just have to get out there and do it. It will get easier!

Airamennyl
May. 19, 2009, 09:27 AM
Re-rider here, I agree more time in the saddle is the ticket. I also run for cardio.

Due's Mom
May. 19, 2009, 09:33 AM
It never mattered how much time that I took off, I could get on and everything just fell into place.

I say Pilates for core strength and maybe some upper body strength training.

You need to try and ride 2-3 times a week in order to get your mojo back...jmho

ProzacPuppy
May. 19, 2009, 09:33 AM
I've been working out but mostly cardio as I've been "exercise challenged" for many years due to back injury and fibromyalgia pain. We just built a gym at the house so I really have no excuse for not exercising now.

I have 2 horses but the other one is an older ex-racer that appears to still hope for a return to the track. He is extremely hot even after all these years. The exact opposite of the WB - he is all go and has the most forward walk I've ever seen - always on the verge of a canter. So fear keeps me off of him. I know, excuses excuses. Even trainer's he's had have only tried to ride him once.

And I'm sure almost all mature riders have the same dilemma of time. The barn is 94 miles round trip from my house and my job keeps me in the office from 7 am to at least 5 pm.

Right now I've got my daughter giving me lessons. She is surprisingly good (though I should have expected it after 17 years of daily riding up to 10 horses a day sometimes). So I could have lessons every day if I chose to (she is at the barn everyday).

Also, I have a dietician I see weekly and she keeps telling me that riding horses doesn't burn that many calories and isn't really exercise. Ooooh I beg to differ. At least the way I ride (clinging, bouncing, getting left) I am breathless and exhausted.

MissKatie
May. 19, 2009, 09:49 AM
I second more time in the saddle and walking or other exercise to get back in shape!

Rosie
May. 19, 2009, 09:51 AM
Ah, been there. Done that. Also had chemo that seriously kicked my butt from a strength/fitness standpoint. (My trainer had taught my horse to do a "flying" lead change - and I was so weak when I started riding again that when the horse unexpectedly executed a beautiful lead change I went FLYING off!! :) Seriously embarassing!)
Best advice? Pilates, Pilates, Pilates! It will REALLY help your core, which in turn will help you feel not so left behind on transitions, etc. Didn't realize how out of shape my core was (I'm slender and appear in pretty good shape even when I'm not) until I started working on it.
Also, as others have said - ride as much as you can. Once a week is a good start - but you will find it difficult to get better without more practice time.

It IS a lot harder than most parents realize - many times when I hear a parent being too hard on a kid rider I want to tell them to climb up and give it a try themselves!

ENJOY!! You'll be wanting to go to some shows before you know it!!

Trees4U
May. 19, 2009, 09:51 AM
My advice is take your time. Stay on the WB mare. Don't pressure yourself to do more than your mind and body are really ready for. You'll get in shape and confidence will build. I know from experience that when we mature riders get tired or are overfaced (& I'm not talking just challenged) things can go bad. Your comfort level will expand and you will find yourself accomplishing more and more. I like walking as an exercise- easy but efficient. Ride more than once a week. You'll get there..;)

mortebella
May. 19, 2009, 10:00 AM
I'm a re-rider after 29 years. Know exactly the frustration. Except I probably thought I was doing better than I really was, til I saw the pictures and vids. :eek: I didn't even think it COULD be that bad. (Where's the "puke" icon?)

My advice: definitely ride as many times a week as the bod will allow, and I think you'll see soreness decrease. Maybe lesson twice a week, ride in between. I have fibromyalgia too, and it ain't fun. Yoga and hot baths...well, "help" is not really the right word, but I keep going. If you stop, it's all going to be worse. :cry: Try to do stuff that increases leg strength. AND work on your back/hip flexibility and rhythm. Not a lot to think about all at once, is it? :lol: Some of my best time is just remembering to hang out with my horse so I can enjoy him without struggling, and remember how much I love the animal and how lucky I am to be at a place in my life when I can have him. Yes, I want to be able to ride well. But I can care for him well and I have seen the change in him since I bought him, and the days when he used to wheel around and present his butt when you opened the stall door to now when he will leave his hay and come to me - you have to savor the victories you can win right now. Draw strength from those to use for your riding, and remember you didn't learn the first time overnight, either. Chances are, giving up just wasn't acceptable to you then. Just don't take no as an answer now, either. Old people can kick butt, too. :D:D

vacation1
May. 19, 2009, 10:05 AM
Isn't it amazing how easy it looks from the ground? When I started riding as an adult, I spent a lot of time apologizing to the horse:lol: A lot of it is just muscle memory, which means time riding, which is frustrating for everyone who can't ride as often as we'd like for one reason or another. But you will improve on 1x a week - it just takes longer.

KateKat
May. 19, 2009, 10:45 AM
I'm not technically a re-rider since I never really rode when I was younger, but I started riding a little over 2 years ago and boy oh, the best thing that has helped me is one on one lessons and upping to twice a week. I've noticed a huge difference since I've been able to get more saddle time. And ditto being back in shape, you will remember once you've improved your muscle strength and such. I used to be a competitive swimmer and when I get in the pool now, I still have the technique just lack the strength and staminda to do what I used to. So since you are a re-rider, you're already way ahead of someone who is just learning how to ride. From here its just practice, lots of baths, and lots of wine :)

Hunter Mom
May. 19, 2009, 10:55 AM
I would agree with the above posters. the more time you can ride, the better. Even if you're not "working" on something specific, just getting in the saddle (or bareback at a walk) will help. If you are comfortable on your girl, stick with her. However, each and every horse we ride can teach us something. Take the opportunity to ride others if it comes along. Anything you can do to improve your strength is good too.

Probably the biggest thing I've had to do is not compare my self to the "girls" who ride and jump way bigger than I do. I moved up to 2'6" last summer, and will be there a while longer. There are girls doing Juniors at my barn, one bringing along an OTTB who will be doing 3' or up next year (she just sold her 3' horse), and an adult who does level 3 jumpers. It is easy to let myself think that I "should" be jumping higher, but I have to remind myself that I do this for ME. What I feel comfortable at.

hollyhorse2000
May. 19, 2009, 11:46 AM
I took up riding for the first time at 39 -- Wow, was that a challenge. Didn't even have the benefit of having ridden as a kid. Very difficult, but totally do-able.

My advice -- LUNGE lessons!!! You really have to get your seat. The rest of it comes afterward, really. If your warmblood mare is good on the lunge, then spend most of your time trotting -- posting, sitting and two-point-- and walking. You do need more than one session a week, though IMHO.

Nothing is better than Pilates. You need to develop your core for your balance and evenness in the saddle. I go to someone who does "equestrian pilates," in that she works on specific issues for riders. It's been fantastic!

danceronice
May. 19, 2009, 12:11 PM
My body has never forgotten in terms of reflexes. The muscles know what they're suppsoed to to. Also, while I haven't ridden in five years, I haven't been inactive (skating, dancing, etc). However, which muscles have been stretched and which haven't is something else! They just need time to get used to it again, and the only cure for that is work 'em more!

Hunter Mom
May. 19, 2009, 01:13 PM
And let's not forget that Aleve and Advil are cheap at Sams Club!

Actually, the best thing for sore muscles is to use them again. It allows the lactic acids that build up and make you sore to release.

MissIndependence
May. 19, 2009, 01:26 PM
Well - I was in a similar boat. Re-rider after 25 years of not sitting in a saddle once. I was serious as a kid - came back to be serious as a granny (lol -well - I was 40 when I started back again). I second the comments that 2-3 lessons a week are crucial. It's simply too hard to try to redevelop the muscles and balance with just one ride a week. I had a horrible time coming back and was having similar issues.....could only do 1x a week. Finally my trainer came to me and told me that if I truly wanted to do it I was going to have to minimally commit to 2x a week. It made the world of difference. Now - I am a psycho extreme case. After almost 5 years back..... I now ride 5-6x a week - have multiple rides and do the high A/O jumpers. That is not normal - nor do most working adults make or have the time to do that. I think I over read the manual.

Just do the best you can, and focus on enjoying the horses, the time that you spend - and if you can - try to do Pilates or other training that can help get your core and abdomen stronger. That will help you with your back, the soreness, etc. Don't get discouraged. Take a lot of Advil :). All the stuff will sort of "click" after many months of trying - and one day you will feel "correct" again!!! Good luck to you.....I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. It's a total joy and lifesaver for me every day and I never ever take it or my amazing horses for granted!!!!!

Donkey
May. 19, 2009, 01:57 PM
If you've got the resources (daughter :)) take as many lessons as you comfortably fit into a week (3?). When things plateau in your lessons trade a lesson day for a practice day, then add the extra lessons back in when you hit a wall again...continue forever :D

Give it a year and you'll have some decent basics.

Invest in ibuprofen.

ProzacPuppy
May. 19, 2009, 02:05 PM
Daughter explained and showed how the core absorbs the shock in a sitting trot. Her's looked very dressage like. Mine was mostly airborne as she pointed out.

Some things I've learned:
You don't use inner thigh muscles in a desk job
A 16.3 h horse feels alot bigger than it sounds
Never exclaim "Whoa" as you get left behind. The horse thinks it is a command for her to stop.
Always bring treats for the horse. She expects some sort of payback for being a good girl.
Getting over an injury takes alot longer now than it did 35 years ago.

I actually would like to be good enough to do local unrated shows in the "subterranean" jumpers, or maybe the puddle jumpers. (Daughter is frustrated jumping the horse because the standards "don't go high enough" though the horse could probably limbo under them at the height they are).

I walk an hour a day on the treadmill, lift a couple weights and mostly sit on the exercise ball and watch TV in the gym. Oh, and I walk an obese pitbull and a male lab that feels the need to mark every friggin' shrub we walk by (so no real exercise there at all).

Now that summer is here I suppose I'll bribe daughter to give me a lesson or two during the week after work too.

Don't give the muscles time to tighten up and hurt.

ReSomething
May. 19, 2009, 02:12 PM
Hey, I'd have gleefully done the crossrails if the trainer hadn't thought it was beneath us. As it is I was the Queen of the Walk Trot Adults at the Winter tournament in Saddleseat. WooHoo!
Just get out there and have fun, horsie probably loffs you, especially if you buy mints in the five pound bag like I do.

Bobblehead
May. 19, 2009, 03:05 PM
PP, I understand where you're coming from. I'm 61, not a "rerider" but the "mature" part sure is appropriate, at least physically (not so sure about mentally). I also have a sister-in-law with fibromyalgia so I know how that can affect you. My suggestions are, first, don't try to evaluate yourself on the same standard as the younger folks. Your body just isn't in that place. I still tend to kick myself for not doing more and better in the past so that I could be absolutely wonderful now. But what works much better is to resolve to ride to the best of my ability NOW and keep progressing. For me, it's also essential to have a specific goal; otherwise I get lazy i.e. sloppy.

Another suggestion is to add something like yoga or tai chi to your exercise program. The cardio-type exercises are great for endurance, but tai chi is helping me with subtlety of aids and balance, not to mention attitude in general.

I agree with the other posters about more time in the saddle and avoiding the hot horse. One thing that's really worked for me has been riding for shorter periods of time more often, which seems less exhausting and fits into my schedule better. It will also let you adjust physically, and personally I think I'm progressing just as fast.

To me, the essential elements for an older rider are (1) an absolutely safe horse - you just don't need a potential injury (2) a clear understanding of what you really want to do - not always easy, but helps you keep going, and (3) accepting your true limitations humbly (your chance of beating the hot young show riders is minimal) but pushing yourself to your true abilities (no reason you can't go to at least medium levels in dressage or jumping).

Riding at this age is all about YOU. It should all be fun. Don't compare yourself with the young kids (unless it's to gloat at how much better you're doing in something.)

RugBug
May. 19, 2009, 03:51 PM
Saddle time is the most important thing, IMO. I was off for 12 years and had a hard time coming back. The mind/body remember what it's suppose to feel like but the muscles have a hard time cooperating with the instructions from the brain because they are out of shape. I did once a week lessons for two months and was frustrated. Then I started half leasing and riding three times a week. The improvement was MUCH quicker. The muscles came around and started obeying my brain.

I was actually joking with my trainer last night saying she was trying to kill me that first lesson back. She had me jumping (although only 2') and with my lack of muscle control it was lucky I didn't flop right off.

foursocks
May. 19, 2009, 04:58 PM
Congratulations on getting back in the saddle! I was a very serious rider as a junior, then did school, school, school for 12 years and started riding again when my husband got sick of me whining about missing it. I was so freaky bad when I started again I came on here for help, just like you. I needed a support group!

As everyone has said, get as much time in the saddle as you can- and get as much out of every ride as you can- at every gait. My horse has what I call his power walk that actually exercises my core- get your horse into a nice, rolling walk and relax into it, but with energy, if that makes sense. This will give you some easy exercise while at the same time building better muscle memory for riding. It also helps you feel your horse better, which I think is harder when we get older- we are more likely to stiffen up than relax into the forward energy of the horse.

Give yourself time, too- we don't bounce the way we used to, our knees do stupid things like ache, our backs slump, and stuff wiggles a lot more than it should. That's just life. But I have to say- I am in better shape now than I was throughout my 20s, and I'm nearly 39. I ride seriously 4-6 days a week, depending on my schedule, and use nearly every second on my horse to work both of us.

Good luck, enjoy yourself, and don't compare yourself to the kids- they are what they are, and we are what we are. I'm a smarter, calmer, more sympathetic and more centered rider than I was as a kid, and that maturity and sensitivity is something truly valuable that we older riders can bring to our horses. :cool:

Mee
May. 19, 2009, 06:36 PM
I'm a re-rider who has been back riding now for 3 years after taking 16 years off, and I can only afford to ride once a week. I live for my weekly riding time, and I have found that a really good weight lifting program has been my saving grace. I have improved much more this past year since I started the weight training. I use the exercises from the book, Ten Years Thinner by Christine Lydon and supplement with the inner thigh machine each time I go to the gym. I also do some sort of vigorous cardio 3-4 times a week (either jogging or the elliptical)

I also spend a portion of each riding session working without my irons. You may find it very helpful to drop your irons while walking and doing those little kid exercises like touching your toes and reaching up to the horses ears. I still can't do these well and this points out how much more work my core needs after all. Also, don't forget to stretch your muscles daily. Especially, before you ride.

I have also come to accept that I will always be somewhat sore after I ride. I know longer feel like I can't move for the next 3 days, but I KNOW I have been riding. I also wear padded biking shorts underneath my breeches because my crotch kills and my underwear tends to cut my legs.

I also read everything I can get my hands on regarding rhythm and pace. Above everything else, make sure it's fun for you. Do only what you can do and don't worry about it.

Smiles, Mee

Go Fish
May. 19, 2009, 06:48 PM
Yep...more saddle time. I'd also suggest more grooming time. Helps build upper body strength and is a lot less boring than working out at the gym. Ask trainer if she/he has a couple of hairy/muddy beasts you could clean up. Get out the rubber mitt and have at it...:D

twofatponies
May. 19, 2009, 07:05 PM
I have to second the poster who suggested "kids" exercises like leaning down to touch your toes while walking on the horse. When I started riding again at 35 hardly any instructors I rode with would do those things, and boy does it help your balance and confidence to learn to *change* positions while the horse is moving. Last winter we did a bunch of gymkhana games on weekends, and learning to lean over and stick a flag in a bucket at the trot has come in handy when I am out riding and the horse swerves or I lose a stirrup or rein or there's a low hanging branch. A couple of years ago any of those things might have sent me tumbling. Plus it was a lot of fun for all of us oldies who participated.

In terms of other exercises, yoga, tai chi or pilates are great for improving balance and focus and core strength. There's a "tai chi for equestrians" tape somewhere. And if you are walking, try to find uphills and downhills, even small ones, and do those as often as possible. We have a long hill nearby, and I walk it every night. It really adds some benefit to walking.

For a neat riding-related thing, try walking briskly downhill while holding one hand at a time in a riding position (as though carrying a wine glass). You will see how you need to engage your core to free your upper body, so you your hand floats independently!

lintesia
May. 19, 2009, 09:21 PM
You have to ride more than once a week...

Think of it like a musical instrument -- if the only time you got to "practice" was at your weekly lesson, you'd never get better. Riding a horse is the same. I'm a professional musician and an amateur rider. For years, I had my weekly riding lesson (which was all I could afford) and was completely frustrated by my lack of progress. One day, I thought about it in terms of learning an instrument and suddenly it was crystal clear why I couldn't improve.

Luckily for me my circumstances changed and I was able to ride several times a week and then do a half-lease (2 lessons, 2 practice rides). I approached my practice rides as I did my music practice sessions -- always with a plan, building "technique" through positive repetition, never doing anything long enough to cause physical injury.

Translated into riding, I would do 1/2 a lap of the arena posting trot with stirrups, then 1/2 with no stirrups, then 1/2 with one stirrup, then 1/2 with the other. Switch directions. Repeat. Add in 2 point, etc. etc. (Give the horse breaks, of course!!!) Work up to an entire lap for each exercise.

I did this at one point several times a week for about 3 months and the basic muscle strength/memory I developed has never disappeared (I was in my early 40s then and am now in my 50s. I can now jump a 2'6" course without stirrups -- I'm dying mind you, but I can do it!!)

A long story, sorry. But persevere and you WILL get stronger!!

twofatponies
May. 19, 2009, 09:35 PM
And go "Cesar Millan" on your dogs, and pick a half dozen specific spots per mile or whatever where they are allowed to pee, and the rest of the time give a hiss, a yank on the leash and keep on walkin'! ;D

Jaegermonster
May. 19, 2009, 09:50 PM
It never mattered how much time that I took off, I could get on and everything just fell into place.



Bitch.
but i digress.....LOL

anyway, I have 3 herniated disks in my lower back and degenerative disk disease. I had lived with the pain so long and was nearly crippled I honestly thought I would have to suck it up and just be in agony or not ride.
Then I found the most awesome chiropractor (for me), got a ThinLine pad, and got some of those flexible stirrups.
The pain has gone.I can ride now and walk upright immediately after getting off. I am even learning how to sit the trot again. It's amazing. My back still gets sore if I overdo it but nothing like it was before.

WIExpat
May. 19, 2009, 10:14 PM
So happy to see this post. I'm riding again once a week after 15 years as a serious competitor with my own horse. I stopped about seven years ago for college, work, political campaigns, and now that my life has slowed down I finally have time for horses again.

Lots of saddle time if you can do it- the first time back on I was so sore I could barely walk up the stairs to my apartment. I also think that working out helps- I am not as little as I was when I was a 15 year old junior, and I'm definitely not in shape. Walking and running has helped, as does stretching before and after riding. I never see riders stretch- we're athletes people, and this is an athletic sport! So stretch!

On a side note...any reriders a little spooked about coming back to jumping? It took me quite awhile to start to see/feel distances again without giving up two strides before, going into my two point and grabbing mane.

copper1
May. 20, 2009, 06:55 AM
I say kudos to all of you " reriders"! Good for you for realizing a childhood dream or restarting when you saw how much fun the kids were having! Take your time and don't over do. As everyone said, riding as much as you can and doing another form of exercise like Pilates or walking/jogging/weights will all help. Admire the others but don't feel you must become Beezie or McClain! Go at your own pace and enjoy the heck out of the best sport ever!

ProzacPuppy
May. 20, 2009, 08:17 AM
I'm glad I posted. Gives me hope.

Right now if I leaned over to touch my toes I'd probably tip right over the side. Balance is not good. Then again my balance on the treadmill is also atrocious and if I don't hold on I tip over sideways as well. Pilates lookes like a good place to go

I've got another huge positional problem when riding. My ankles tend to tip to the outside (away from the horse) when I get loose in the saddle. The pain makes it even harder to put more weight in the stirrup and hold on when I'm out of balance like that. I try really hard to keep heels down and weight in the heel but kicking and heels down is hard for me.

Big problem is also that I have started using my daughter's GPA helmet which while a bit worn is otherwise in great shape. Except for the smell. I have Febreezed, Lysoled like a mad woman but to no avail. And while I'd love a new GPA I can't afford one. I bought cheap paddock boots and I find that they don't soften up as well as daughter's Ariats always have. Kind of worried that a cheap helmet will also require compromises possibly in the safety department.

Which leads me to another problem - fear. I'm afraid to canter, afraid to trot the Xs, afraid to fall off. I'm sure my mare can sense my fear as well.

Foursocks - My ex-racer has an amazing forward rolling walk- as fast as a horse can walk without breaking into a trot or canter. His frustration level is nil though and I'm sure I'd piss him off. Daughter has ridden him for 12 years with "no leg and no contact" and done really well. What the heck does one do to hold on?

Bobblehead
May. 20, 2009, 09:52 AM
I'm glad I posted. Gives me hope.

Right now if I leaned over to touch my toes I'd probably tip right over the side. Balance is not good. Then again my balance on the treadmill is also atrocious and if I don't hold on I tip over sideways as well. Pilates lookes like a good place to go

I've got another huge positional problem when riding. My ankles tend to tip to the outside (away from the horse) when I get loose in the saddle. The pain makes it even harder to put more weight in the stirrup and hold on when I'm out of balance like that. I try really hard to keep heels down and weight in the heel but kicking and heels down is hard for me.

Big problem is also that I have started using my daughter's GPA helmet which while a bit worn is otherwise in great shape. Except for the smell. I have Febreezed, Lysoled like a mad woman but to no avail. And while I'd love a new GPA I can't afford one. I bought cheap paddock boots and I find that they don't soften up as well as daughter's Ariats always have. Kind of worried that a cheap helmet will also require compromises possibly in the safety department.

Which leads me to another problem - fear. I'm afraid to canter, afraid to trot the Xs, afraid to fall off. I'm sure my mare can sense my fear as well.

Foursocks - My ex-racer has an amazing forward rolling walk- as fast as a horse can walk without breaking into a trot or canter. His frustration level is nil though and I'm sure I'd piss him off. Daughter has ridden him for 12 years with "no leg and no contact" and done really well. What the heck does one do to hold on?

I think you're getting a little overwhelmed right now. Step back a moment. What is ONE thing you can do that will help you feel better next time you ride? Is it buying a new helmet? Is it sticking with ground poles? Is it resolving to forgo cantering for the time being while you work on better balance at the trot? Is it starting Pilates? Is it riding a quieter horse? Pick one thing that you can actually make a difference with in a short time.

I've done almost all of the above to deal with insecurity/fear. I got overwhelmed by fear of jumping; so I decided to stop jumping entirely until the desire to do it was so strong I just "had" to do it. In the meantime I worked on my position, which after all was what really made me fearful. Then one day I decided to warm up for my lesson by jumping a 2-foot course, and it went like a dream. I still only jump occasionally (still working on my seat), but my confidence level has improved.

Any ASTM helmet will be safe. You don't have to pay big money for a safe helmet. But I do think that buying your own new helmet is a great way to admit to yourself that you really ARE committed to this project.

I have one more easy way to build core strength that hasn't been mentioned yet. Any time you have a chance to go up or down stairs, do - WITHOUT holding onto the handrail. You use your abs a lot more that way.

Janet
May. 20, 2009, 10:10 AM
In the studies I have seen, some of the cheapest helmets have been the safest (one of the Troxel's was teh safest, but I forget which one.

More saddle time is definitely the key.

There are also riding specific exercises you can do. There is a book co-authored by our own Weatherford (I have it but forget the title). Practical Horseman has an exercise described every month. Pretty simple/easy, but specifically aimed at riding muscles.

It is probably SMART to want to perfect your balance and control at the trot before working on canter and jumping.

ReSomething
May. 20, 2009, 10:38 AM
The stinky helmet: my old trainer told us the story one day of using a foaming feminine hygiene product. Sorry guys, but it's true. Forget which product. Supposedly it worked great, saved her from having to chuck a $350 GPA, and it did crack us all up.

Balance: basic balance, stand on one foot and stay there for a minute. Graduate to moving the foot forward, backward, ronde de jamb (ballet moves), leg lift, and finally start closing your eyes. (I still can't hold my balance with my eyes closed). Simple and you can do it anywhere, anytime.

Fear: Tincture of time. Actually there is some sort of scientific explanation that says that you need some certain number of positive experiences to lay a foundation of confidence, and then some other number to overcome a negative, so starting with Mr Steady Eddy is hugely important. It also really helps to use positive and even neutral imagery - positive is "I have practiced a two-point and can keep it consistently for two laps of the arena, and will easily keep it over these 6 cavaletti" neutral is "This two point is easily maintained, I will keep it over these 6 cavaletti focussing on my rythym and breathing". I call the second example neutral because I would be focussing on something altogether different than what I was doing, and I know for a fact I can breathe and keep a count in my head.

Falling off: Learn to fall. Practice some emergency dismounts, make it less of an issue in your head. I've fallen off about once a year since I started re-riding. When I fall off, I close my eyes and go limp, I am not exactly happy but the trauma level is a lot lower. The mat work forms of martial arts have a lot of falling exercises. Ride, ride, ride. The more times you ride and stay on, even if you slither here and there, are positive "staying on" experiences.

Borrow or buy a copy of Jane Savoie's That Winning Feeling, in which she discusses the use of positive imagery to the exclusion of all else. Banish the thought of falling from your mind, focus on every successful movement you have made, recreate it in different forms as you need to.

The first thing you want to do is have fun. There are loads of people out there who have no clue they ride like cr*p, helmetless and *this* close to falling off, just look on youtube and craigslist, and every time they ride they have a blast anyway. Read the book, and every time you ride focus on the fun stuff you did. Leave the "what if's" and the "I used to be . . " out of it altogether. Lord knows it can be hard! Three times I've posted on this thread, in my infinite wisdom :rolleyes:.
Go out and have a good time!

analise
May. 20, 2009, 10:55 AM
On emergency dismounts:

Practice dismounting at the walk! Practice at the trot, if you feel brave enough! And then, when you lose a stirrup posting at the trot and somehow completely lose your balance and come off, you'll magically land on your feet! Or, uh, at least that's what happened to me once...Ahem.

Definitely work in more ride time, if you can get it. I know I felt much better riding when I was doing two lessons and week and working an extra bit of riding in between.

There are even things you can do that help when you aren't riding. Stand on the edge of a step balanced on the balls of your feet and make like you're going into two-point. Gives you a chance to kind of practice at finding your balance without having to be on a horse.

One thing I had an instructor tell me to do (and I should do more) to get lighter for my posting (instead of whacking the horse in the back every time I sat) was to get a chair without arms and kind of straddle standing, knees bent a bit, and slowly come down like I would for the down part of posting until I just barely touch the seat, then back up. And keep doing that. She also wanted us to do something similar to that exercise with a table in front of us to hold our hands over so we could practice keeping our hands about an inch above the table (no higher and no resting them there!) to work on keeping our hands still. Another thing I should probably go back and do.

And on expensive helmets: My $40 or so one protects my head just as much as any hemet that costs more than $100. And it's definitely nice to have a helmet that is mine only.

LShipley
May. 20, 2009, 11:47 AM
I was not an accomplished child rider, but I had lots of fun. After at 20 year gap, I really didn't have anything to fall back onto skill wise. But nothing makes me feel like I am 10 years old again like riding bareback does. :-)

The people closest to my age at the barn are so advanced, that I don't even bother to compare myself to them. I compare myself to the 10 year olds, who have been riding for about 3 years, like me. They also ride ponies, like me. It is a little weird when we go to the local shows, and I compete mostly against 10 year olds. The weirdest thing was when a woman saw a small person on a pony, and without bothering to look at my fac, came up and said "Hi, what is your name?" Once she realized I was older, she asked, do you lease this pony? No, I own her... Is she a lesson horse? No, I own her... Meanwhile her 8 year old is on a 16 hand warmblood .... (Nothing against warmbloods or 8 year olds on them, but the two of us next to each other made quite the contrast).

As an adult, I really enjoy the learning process for both me and my mare. We're improving together, all the time, and I appreciate and like putting in the effort and work into getting sharper transitions and nice leg yields. Someday, I hope to have a really nice leg position. But my horse seems to love me regardless, and that is the best part.

As some of the people here have said, stretching is important. Doesn't matter what you do, but I have found stretching regularly at home, and also right before I get on, makes a world of difference.

Meredith Manor's website has some nice articles about riding, too, that are interesting to read. Here is one about fear that your post made me think of: http://www.meredithmanor.com/features/articles/faith/fears.asp

Good luck, have fun!

Hunter Mom
May. 20, 2009, 12:21 PM
Fear of falling is a very real thing. I have definitely found that the ground has gotten harder since I was a kid. We have a "humpty" club at our barn, and I won the trophy last year for the most falls. Oh well. I just get back on and ride. I think that helps me to get past that fear.

rdc
May. 20, 2009, 02:00 PM
I've got another huge positional problem when riding. My ankles tend to tip to the outside (away from the horse) when I get loose in the saddle. The pain makes it even harder to put more weight in the stirrup and hold on when I'm out of balance like that. I try really hard to keep heels down and weight in the heel but kicking and heels down is hard for me.


I was having this problem badly (38yo, reriding four months now). There's an old surgery scar on the outside of my left ankle, too, which made it hurt even more.

I had a lesson with the amazing Colin McIntosh last week. He picked up on it and told me to remember to keep some weight in my big toe. This immediately corrected the pronation, straightened up my whole ankle joint and suddenly made it much easier and less painful to sink into my heels.

AppendixQHLover
May. 20, 2009, 09:42 PM
I got a Pair of MDC stirrups which flex and have the pivot. It relieved 90% of my ankle and knee pain.

I used to have a slightly whacky horse but my job started getting busier so I traded up for a queit horse that isn't such a challenge.

ProzacPuppy
May. 21, 2009, 08:17 AM
Alot of really good ideas that I am going to put into practice. Maybe buy a new helmet, look into the stirrup situation (though I think daughter has Sprenger).

As for practice falling - I have enough trouble dismounting when she is at a standstill and someone is holding the reins. It is such a long way to the ground from her. (Only recent riding was a couple lessons on a small and elderly QH and a cattle drive (I kid you not) on yet another 15 hand QH.

Kudos also to all those folks who ride the behemoth 17-18 hand giants. The ground must look really far away.

KayBee
May. 21, 2009, 09:05 AM
One thing I had an instructor tell me to do (and I should do more) to get lighter for my posting (instead of whacking the horse in the back every time I sat) was to get a chair without arms and kind of straddle standing, knees bent a bit, and slowly come down like I would for the down part of posting until I just barely touch the seat, then back up. And keep doing that. She also wanted us to do something similar to that exercise with a table in front of us to hold our hands over so we could practice keeping our hands about an inch above the table (no higher and no resting them there!) to work on keeping our hands still. Another thing I should probably go back and do.

Amen to all this poster said, especially about the "chair" exercise. And I had to lol about the table exercise because I "invented" it for myself. Funny to see that it's something that's really recommended. (Yes, I'm an adult re-rider too - 2.5 years now.)

As for "heels down." I have a short Achilles tendon so getting into my heels was tough for me. I got an exercise/resistance band and would do exercises with it. Place the ends in either hand with your foot in the center. "Point" your toe slowly to full extension and then "pull" your toes back towards you. (You can do this seated in a chair, and watch TV while doing it.)

Do the exercise in reverse. Easiest to lie on the floor and have someone hold the band ends for you but you can wrap the ends around a doorknob or something. Here you're pulling your toe toward you against the resistance.

Really, really works a muscle in your shin that allows you to "pull" your toes up rather than "pushing" your heels down. Also helps stretch and strengthen your calf muscles.

Other than that, I'd say the key to my initial success was a good teacher
(thank you Tammy Hoefer, Brook Run Farm) who was an excellent judge both my ability and fitness. Pushed me just enough in terms of skill and "breathlessness" to keep my confidence up and foster improvement.

Jumping never scared/worried me. To this day, outside of a spooky or just plain obnoxious horse, the thing that scared me the most was... cantering a circle. I couldn't quite believe I wasn't going to crash into the jump standards and of course my gaze would "lock" on them making it much more likely that I would... crash into the jump standards. (Never actually did it but it took a looooong time to get confident about it. Still hate turning near obstacles. And by near I mean "within 10 feet," lol.)

ETA: I now ride a 17.1 horse and... all the other horses look *small* to me. I never am really aware of how high I am unless we're somewhere with low-hanging branches. That's the only time I really feel high above the ground.

Anyplace Farm
May. 21, 2009, 09:52 AM
I'm 45 (well, I am in about 4 mos) but I can't say like a lot of women my age that my body has changed much so weight-wise, I've not had a problem. I do find, though, that I need to ride more to feel like I've got some control over my body. So, like what many others said, the more you can ride, the better.

Like a few other posters, I also run. Bought a treadmill in Feb and love having it down there in my basement for me to use whenever I need it. I have learned that I can't worry about a set schedule for working out. It always gets derailed. I just aspire to doing it so that means I fit it in when I can. For instance, I run with people at work that are training for marathons. I know Mon/Tues are non-riding days for me so I will run w/a girl here right after work for a half-hour on Tuesdays or however long that keeps me entertained. I figure something is better than nothing. The treadmill is there for rainy days and after hours.

Most of all, you just have to stay positive and keep at it. I also like to read about successful people and how they got where they are. I picked up this book recently called "Talent is Overrated" - it's an excellent book. Click here (http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/21/magazines/fortune/talent_colvin.fortune/index2.htm), then skip right to page 2 and scroll down until you see in bold the #1. That's where they talk about how people with no apparent talent for what they are doing got where they are (like Tiger Woods, etc.). It is called 'deliberate practice'. I particularly like this line, "The great performers isolate remarkably specific aspects of what they do and focus on just those things until they're improved; then it's on to the next aspect." That's actually how my brain works. I can't move past certain things that are hanging me up until I get them right. Otherwise, to me, it is like throwing spaghetti against a wall and hoping something is going to stick.

I'm yammering. Regardless, check the book out and also check out "The Power to Win". A current book written specifically for horse people. Excellent book.

RugBug
May. 21, 2009, 11:13 AM
Kudos also to all those folks who ride the behemoth 17-18 hand giants. The ground must look really far away.

My horse is only 16.2 and the other I ride is 15.3. I've started doing the old lady dismount where I get off using the mounting block. If you've got one that stands well you just ride up, park 'em and slither off. Saves my knees.

iechris
May. 21, 2009, 09:28 PM
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks the jump standards are just a bit too close for comfort! 3-4 people doing 3-4 different lines essentially all at once tends to make me freeze up because I just know I'm going to be in somebody's way.

I do think working out helps, espeically if you can't ride more than once or twice I week.




Jumping never scared/worried me. To this day, outside of a spooky or just plain obnoxious horse, the thing that scared me the most was... cantering a circle. I couldn't quite believe I wasn't going to crash into the jump standards and of course my gaze would "lock" on them making it much more likely that I would... crash into the jump standards. (Never actually did it but it took a looooong time to get confident about it. Still hate turning near obstacles. And by near I mean "within 10 feet," lol.)