Endurance definitely seems to be a sport for older riders- 50s, and 60s probably outnumber 20s and 30s. I started AERC rides in my 30s (am early 40s now) and still feel very young, compared to feeling old at h/j shows and events!
Actually, at endurance rides you will see a lot of people who look *really* old and weathered and who have all kinds of physical ailments. Some of them walk with limps, have had back surgery, knee replacements, etc., but can kick your butt on an endurance ride. I think being able to do endurance is largely a state of mind.
I saw Jan Worthington cantering out of the vet check at the WEG in Kentucky, and thought, "That is who I want to be!"
I met someone at Tevis last year (crewing, like myself) who had started endurance at 60. She was now the self-proclaimed "Queen of the LD's," champion for her region. "That is who I want to be," I decided.
I watched one of the riders from our region who is in her late seventies come in from her fifty-mile ride. Everyone wants to give her a hand, but the truth is, she doesn't need it. She was out helping another rider with a green horse through a water crossing the day before. "That is who I want to be."
There are so many older women in endurance that there's no need to stop at one role model!
I'm 75 but it doesn't feel like it.
I do 50 milers on my 11 year-old arab pony. We usually place in the first 5-6, and she could go a lot faster, but I have to admit I do get a bit tired and hold back on the pace these days.
We have been doing endurance for 7 years - before that I had a standardbred which I hacked around, but she hated endurance so I had to get an arab, lol.
As far as I'm concerned you use it or lose it, but I am also blessed with good health, an independent frame of mind and a love of the outdoors.
Besides, I hate housework.
So glad to hear of all the riders in their 50s and older. It's a lifeline for me, because I have been alittle sad that other responsibilities have been keeping me from trying competitive trail, or even just horse camping. Good to know that, of course, as with alot of things, there will be time. (I can make it happen in a few years, and I will; it's just right now that it's just not gonna happen).
Pa-eternally laboring in the infinite creative and sustentative work of the universe
the words of a 75yr old! (in 2011)
Crimson Sage (bred by Cre Run)
article from Arabian Horse World Magazine, July 2011
At 75 years young, Emily Richardson is still very active in equestrian sports. She completed the AERC 50-mile course on Crimson Sage (MHF Eclipse x Capri El Csage) in 40th place, with a ride time of 7 hours. Emily, who resides in northern Virginia, said, "I was foxhunting (which she still does three or four days a week) and started doing distance riding witht he three-day CTR (competitive trail riding) in 1962. Consequently, I met Matthew MacKay Smith at the CTR and I remember asking him, "Why are you doing this instead of endurance?" i don´t think I talked to anyone else at that ride but Matthew and his wife Winkie! I was hooked! So he started me out in endurance at the Old Dominion Ride with my Thoroughbred hunter. I did quite well then, but I wanted an Arabian," she said with a sparkle in her eyes. "By then, I was divorced, living in Washington, D.C., where I worked. I got my first Arabian from John R. 'Doc' Aldred, Rollingwood Farm, and boarded him at Madeira School in Leesburg. I had my hands full with this horse, but persisted, and then finally sold him and rode some of Lori Shifflett´s and Valerie Kanavy´s horses, as I´d known Val since she lived in Pennsylvania doing ECTRA (Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Association). it was 11 years ago that Lori called me and told me to come down to Cre Run Farm and buy this chestnut just off the track. That was Crimson Sage, who is now 17. Sage is a tough, brave horse who has a very high opinion of himself!
"My goal is always to come home with a sound horse to go again, whatever the sport," she said. "I had the good fortune in that my former husband, Aubrey Downs, is a wonderful horseman and gave me, with Valerie and Lori, a deep appreciation of training horses with long, slow, steady work. I don´t race and rarely know where I am in a ride until it is over. I have three good Arabians now. Two of them I hunt regularly on and with one of those I do endurance as well, and I do solely endurance with Sage."
As for her age, Richardson said, "I don´t think about my age as my friends keep me young as a history professor I´m surrounded by college students!"
About endurance, she said, "I always enjoy helping friends and bringing along new horses and riders in the sport - a sport that teaches you life skills. I worked with Quaker Peace and Service in the war zone in Sri Lanka providing food, medical supplies, and training women in basic health education and emergency treatment for about 18 months, and later, worked in Bosnia several times (over a couple of years) for US/AID delivering food and medical supplies into the war zone. I also worked in Sarajevo as a Western country representative in their elections. Endurance riding enabled me to get through very difficult times that, like endurance, required a steady mind and confidence. When friends ask me which sport I prefer, my answer is endurance! You get to ride, be with good friends, and see spectacular scenery for 50 miles and more! Why wouldn´t it be my favorite sport?"
I've never been lucky enough to have a horse that would be capable of doing endurance but I have spent many 4/5 hour trail rides in the saddle with my now dearly departed QH. However, at the age of 61 I still ride daily and would love to eventually find another horse that likes the trails as much as I do, my current horse is a drama queen.
My comment on the riding and age thing is that you really are as old as you feel and there is nothing more dangerous to your health than lying on a couch in front on a tv for hours on end.
My mentor did 25 mile rides into her 70's (until she got ill). Now that I'm in my 60's, have an Arab and am no longer interested in shows, I'm toying with the idea. If it ever cools off and stops raining.........
The average age at most 3-day competitive trail 100 mile rides that I did was well over 50! I know many of you remember Bucky and her 20+ year old horse at the NY 100-pushing 80 and still having a great time. My new horse, only 4 years old, is never going to be FEI but when he is old enough next year I, in my mid sixties-will be starting him on limited distance. He's a belgian cross so we will not be looking to top ten but I bet we will be very competitive in competitive trail and who knows, go for some endurance mileage too. Remember the motto is: TO FINISH IS TO WIN!
PS: He will probably out live me so I am also training him in dressage and making sure he is well trained enough to easily be re-homed when I can no longer care for him-something all of us should consider!
How you deal with your personal aging has a lot to do with how well you take care of yourself as you approach those older years. Being fit now and staying that way, will make it a lot easier down the road.
My husband is 73. When he retired in his early 60s, he took up running.He had always been athletic, working out at the gym etc, but with his job, didnt have a lot of extra time.
He now runs 8 miles every other day. He has climbed Mt Whitney for the last 8 yrs in a row - up and down in one day. He climbed Kearsarge Pass last week as a training climb for his annual Whitney climb next month (and that was also up and down in one day). He runs half marathons - has another race coming up in October )he regularly beats everyone in his age group - but in his 70's there aren't a lot of other runners out there! So he likes to compare his times to those in their 60s and 50s since he generally is faster than a lot of the runners.
To look at him, you would never guess he is in his early 70's ( he's a fit 6 ft 3 and 140 pounds)
I retired a few yrs ago and have spent my time getting out and doing a lot more riding including some "interesting" trail rides. I used to jump a lot (sreegularly several times a week and was competing) . I dont jump much now, and I dont compete in endurance, but I ride regularly in the ring and spend a lot of time out on the hills in our area. We have climbed up and down some knarly trails and its a blast.
Get fit, stay fit, get regular exercise and there is no telling how far you can go.
There was a great blog a few wks ago in the hunter jumper section about some of the "older" set who still foxhunt. One of the women was in her 80s and said she just bought a new off the track TB, was teaching it to jump so hoped to ride out wtih the hunt in the spring. Oh and she would be bringing her new horse in the new truck and trailer she just purchased.