its really great to hear that there are people just like me that I am not just the minority . Thank you to all who have responded.
I started back in September, 2008 after an 18 year hiatus. During my third or fourth lesson, the lesson horse I was on decided he was done and did a big spin to get me off. I broke my finger, and couldn't ride for a couple of months while the pins were in it. After I healed up, I went back, and was a complete basket case! I had never been a fearful rider before, so this was a horrible new experience for me! I was basically back to being a 100% complete beginner. The key to working through it was a **very** patient instructor/trainer who gave me enough time to work past my anxiety, but also knew when to push me a bit.
I also bought a QH in October of 2009 who is a saint, with a smooth as silk canter.
Then, I came off in July, 2010 doing some gymnastic exercises and broke my collar bone! I am still overcoming some anxiety from that, but not nearly as much as the first fall/broken finger. Since this second fall was off of my own horse, and I know it was just one of those accidents that can happen when riding a 1,100 pound animal, I have done better mentally coming back this time. But it still sucks to take some steps backward again.
I'd really like to be able to fall off without breaking something!
Bottom line for me is this, I love riding and my horse, and I'm just going to keep at it. I am a little bitter that the progress is way slower than I anticipated it would be when I came back in September of 2008, but I keep telling myself it's progress nonetheless.
I stopped doing the A/O jumpers 7 yrs ago. Went down to hunters briefly, and all but stopped riding for the past few years. Now I ride sporadically, whenever time permits, on my now 21 yr old jumper retiree and friends dressage horses.
I'm not sure if someone mentioned this, but I cannot stress enough that you need to be exercising when you aren't riding (I suppose even if you are riding you should have an exercise plan, but I think it is critical to maintain some level of fitness when not riding so you can get back faster).
I have been doing a minimum of 45 min. of low impact elliptical work 5-6 days per week, with balance ball activities and low weights on machines 2-3 times per week, and a yoga class weekly. It was brutal at first, but I am pretty darn fit now, and 1 month ago I exercised 4 dressage horses (2nd-I1) one day, and then 3 two days later. I thought I would be paying for it, but I barely got sore. It was pretty much like riding a bike. I knew what needed to be done. My legs and core didn't always cooperate, but the horses stayed happy and never questioned me at all.
I can Identify with you for sure! I had six years off after college with no riding at all in between gained some wait from being sick and lost a lot of my stamina. My confidence is NOT EVEN CLOSE to what it was in high school and college (4ft was nothing then) and I am a hunter rider. The biggest issue to overcome is my fear of falling IT HURTS WAY more now and I only have fallen twice but when the ground is frozen (imagine that in South Florida)... Now I only ride in the ring on really cold days and don't push it if whoever I am on is being fresh. ie stick to trotting circles and things I know I can handle
My advice is get on several things that give you confidence (maybe a little closer to the ground) than your average 17hh warmblood and the best thing to happen to me yesterday was when a dog spooked the OTTB I was tuning up for one of the kids and he took off bucking and I was able to stick. I guess my muscle memory decided to help me there.
I have also found that riding bareback has helped me alot finding my balance and center of gravity again. Good Luck its a long road!
This is great advice!
I too have found that bareback riding on a smaller horse works wonders for strengthening your riding muscles quickly and improving your balance. It has helped me stick in the saddle during situations where I would have got dumped 4 months ago.
Another thing to remember is that riding should be fun. If the horse is hyper and you feel like working on trotting only then that's totally fine. Whatever makes you feel comfortable. There is a fine line between pushing yourself enough to improve and going over the line and diminishing your self-confidence. A good trainer can help you work through this.
Good luck, and keep us posted! I'm getting ready to start lessons on my own horses in the next week or two, as well. I had been (see my previous post above) taking lessons on schooling horses for the past 3 months and it's been great. But now I'm ready for that next step, getting my own horses going again!
Also joining the club. I rode any horse anyone would put me on for hours every day for almost 25 years, then took 10 years completely off (family/work/the usual). And it is so true: the brain completely knew what to do, but the body didn't respond as expected.
I started out trying to do what I had done in my teens and 20s: tootling around on a friend's green warmbloods. While I was able to stick what they threw at me, I realized that I didn't WANT to anymore - I don't trust my body to do what it once did for me earlier, like bounce instead of break, and so on.
So I politely recused myself from the greenies and went and found a trainer with quiet school horses. She was perfect at getting me back into it - I was literally afraid to jump a little X - I knew exactly what to do, but did not trust my body to do it, from balance to every other physical part of a jumping effort. She smiled, was patient, but never stopped encouraging me - and 6 months later I was having a blast rocketing around tiny 2'6" courses. Just the most fun!
At the same time I started with that trainer, I started a serious exercise program - I totally agree with the Yoga folks, I do Pilates but same difference - it focuses on the riding muscles and flexibility, which is a big problem for me at this age.
I left that trainer only due to her barn being full of juniors, I wanted what this thread is achieving, which is a group of like-bodied older adults to vent and whine with. Found a barn/trainer that was more adult-oriented, which added a huge amount to my growing repertoire of learning all new stuff - that on average a hunter course lasts 2 minutes; how to do canter sets to get my aerobic ability to the point that it could last in two point for that requisite 2 minutes; when I had a physical setback from illness I had to actually ratchet back to 30 minute lessons since that's all my body could hold up to; and on and on.
It's all very humbling; it's all very much driven by the physical (even the psychological fear is driven by the new physical reality). It's not necessarily just physical limitations, it's physical *differences* - trainers themselves have to be creative and study some physical training for older adults, to understand that you aren't just a wealthier junior with less free time on your hands - your body is actually physically different and has different requirements and different abilities.
I am getting ready to join the ranks. Have been off my horse for almost 4 yrs and I was old then! He has retired, but I miss it so much. So what do I do? Go get an OTTB, although he has had some retraining and is 12 yrs old. I am starting from scratch, here on my own farm, doing ground work with him. I am going to start sitting on my retired guy just for walk and some trot work, to help me gain the mobility to get on my new horse this spring.
I am in no hurry.....this is a project for me to keep me mentally and physically stimulated. I have several people that can help me and get the first few rides in for me.
I also had a green OTTB and was having trouble being a rerider, even with a trainer. I wasn't having fun and I wanted to quit. I stopped my re-riding for a few months (for personal reasons) and while I took abuse for letting my horses sit, I don't regret it and would do it again.
Laugh at me, you may, but I did a few big things while not reriding....
-Started martial arts again
-Allowed myself mental health days away from the farm.
I used to do martial arts when I rode in college and I used to preach about how much it helped, so I started. And it does. Your mileage may vary, but I have found riding helps me maintain the fitness I already have, but doesn't help me improve it so much.
I've gained stamina, muscle tone, body position/spacial awareness and balance. Those things were definitely lacking, and I just don't think I'd have gotten them back just riding. (I would assume things like ballet, dance, and any other quick moving activity that requires acute body position awareness, coordination and fitness would also do the trick.) Now, even hacking without a trainer, I feel like my mind and body (and horse) are speaking more of the same language and I don't get as horribly frustrated. I *almost* enjoy riding again.
Also, I decided to not go to the farm on days when other things were bothering me, in trade I tried to slowly cut out the things that were bothering me. Maybe counter-intuitive, but for me, I feel I owe it to my boys to stay HOME and let the staff care for them if I'm not at least 90% that day, or week. Because they are boarded, there IS always tomorrow, and horses shouldn't be a drag. I am not a carefree junior rider anymore, with nothing to think about but my riding day in and out. I am an adult, with big girl personal, work and life issues... but part of getting back into riding was realizing that I sort of need to uncomplicate my adult life as much as I can if I'm going to have the energy and focus to DO this again.
Last edited by spaceagejuliet; Feb. 1, 2011 at 04:29 AM.