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Adult riders & coping with aging

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  • Adult riders & coping with aging

    Guess I'm just looking for a little support, commiseration, and comparative experiences....

    I always thought that someday I'd reach my goal the Jr/AO jumpers. But, you know how it is with horses. The best laid plans often fail. I was almost there, and then my horse colic'ed and required surgery. The road back was really long, and we never quite got back to the same level. A demanding job, kids, a cross-country move, and several years later....here I am. I can get around a 3' course alright now, but it's no thing of beauty.

    At this point, I'm starting to face reality. I'm scared of anything over 3' (with just cause, because my eye stinks now). I don't have the finances, time, or family support to reach any elite levels. These things are not likely to change in the near future, and I am not young anymore. This is hard for me to accept, because horses have been my life. Am I really on the way down already?

    I know there's a lot of adult riders and re-riders on here. I was wondering how you cope with these realities. Of COURSE I still love horses (mine in particular because he's an angel). I'll ride 'til I'm 80, God willing! I just thought I had more potential, and I never reached it. Has anyone here had to reset goals/priorities/expectations?

    Sorry this post sounds so whiny! Believe me, I know how lucky I am to be around horses at all....and I will always be grateful for that.
    Last edited by Momateur; Apr. 10, 2019, 10:41 AM.

  • #2
    Funny that you think you're on the way down, while I think I'm on the way up because I feel like I'm more knowledgeable and patient, so am more able to put my horses' health and welfare first. But then I always had my reservations about using horses to achieve my goals, so it's been a relief to no longer be driven to use them for anything other than the kind of work that I'm confident has a very low chance of damaging them.

    IOW, losing our drive to achieve our goals may be the best thing that could have happened to our horses, assuming that we continue to take care of them.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm somewhere in the middle of BOTH of the above comments, the original post and Kande04's comment. I'm a re-rider that had some solid years in the 3' children's hunters as a junior and even a few fun forays into the 3'6" junior ring on borrowed horses when they were available.

      I quit riding when I started college and then started again in my late 30's on a green horse that had plenty of scope but not much step to move up to the 3' ring from the 2'6" Modified Adults. Because of finances, I quit again a few years into that project horse only to start up again in my mid 40's.

      Here I am now, 48, coming off a leased horse, again- not much step on that one to move up but SO MUCH DESIRE to get out of the 2'6" ring and I now have my own that has plenty of step and scope to do the 3' and beyond. However, a new fear factor has set in. Any time the jumps go up even a little bit, I get anxiety. So, how am I ever going to get out of the Modified Adult/2'6" ring? I can sit at the 3' ring for hours and think they don't look that big but the minute I look down at the same jumps from my horse's back, they suddenly look giant to me.

      At the same time, I think that this dilemma may be a blessing in disguise as it may give my new horse, who is only just 9, a longer career with me since he wont really be pounded or have to work that hard.

      I, too, am grateful to be doing this at all but I understand your "whine" (if you must call it that), OP. I have the same one in my head daily.
      http://www.poochpaddock.com/

      http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Po...4588358?ref=mf

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      • #4
        I hear ya. Just go easy on yourself. I had a long gap in my riding "career" and now struggle as a middle aged adult to be anything resembling competitive. At first it was hard but over time I realized my goals have changed. I'm not concerned about how high I'm jumping or whether or not I'll show. I just want to focus on the horse's welfare by re-learning how to be a good rider.

        Comment


        • #5
          I think this happens to every real world adult amateur, multiple times, through our riding careers as we get older and life gets busy and bodies change. I recently made the decision I have no real interest to try to get back to the 3' ring, and am sticking with the 2'6. I also transitioned out of jumpers and over to hunters and eq. It's what fits my lifestyle best and doesn't stress me out, it's still fun. My trainer has told me I'm capable of more than that, she thinks I could be competitive in the 3' adult eq. I agree with her, I could be. But my work schedule doesn't allow me to ride often enough to be fit enough to confidently get around those courses, it's too stressful and not fun and wouldn't be fair to whatever horse I'm on. So I let logic win out and said I know, but I'll pass. I don't think you should view this as on your way down, the adult amateur set makes up the majority of the horse world, including in USEF. We in the 2'6 ring are not on our way down, we're just enjoying ourselves.

          I think what's really important for adults (and especially those that rode competitively as juniors) is to remember that this is supposed to be fun. When it becomes more stressful than it is fun, you need to reassess. There's many ways to enjoy horses that don't require competing at the elite level. You just have to find your joy in a new way.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by hairystockings View Post
            When it becomes more stressful than it is fun, you need to reassess.
            This. 1000 times this.
            http://www.poochpaddock.com/

            http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Po...4588358?ref=mf

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm right there with you! I rode and showed a lot as a child and into my early 20's....... and then life happened and all of the sudden things were not so easy. I was now the one financially supporting my horse addiction and could not afford to show as much as I did when my parents were footing the bill. My horses either got older or injured and I was not in the position to purchase another one to take their place. I had to adjust my goals and have realistic expectations of what I wanted out of horses and myself. I now have a husband, a demanding job, a house to clean, and pets to take care of and all of that takes time away form me getting to ride. Some days I come home home and just want to sit on the couch and stare off into space. I don't know how those of you with children do it!

              Over the last few years I have come to terms with the fact that being that rock star rider is not something that the vast majority of us can do as the working amateur who is not at the barn daily getting time in the saddle. My current horse really helped me figure this out. In 2014 he had an injury that set us back almost 2 years. When the injury happened I was devastated. We had left our last show talking about how he was ready to step into the A/O hunters very soon and how I would finally have my A/O horse that I had dreamed of only to get him out to ride the next week and he was just not right. My vet and trainer really thought I was crazy when I called to make an appointment for a horse that was lame in the cross ties. After many vet visits, ultrasounds and finally an MRI and surgery we had a diagnosis and while it was treatable it was going to take him time to recover.

              I had this random aaa hhaaa moment one day and it became easier for me to accept my current riding situation and be totally OK with it. I have reset my goals and expectations of myself and my horse. Some days it may be jumping around that 3'6" course other days I feel like it was a win if I get on and we trot around for 5 minutes and don't die. I don't like to think of it as being on my way down I like to think of it as gaining wisdom and knowing when to pick and choose my battles so that I can do this for the long haul. The other cool thing about getting older (at least for me) is that I really don't give a sh*t about what a lot of people think. I know I am a good rider for what I have to work with and I am giving 100% every time I get on my horse. It may not always be pretty or get the exact result my trainer wanted but I gave everything I had and can walk away knowing that and still feel good.



              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by hairystockings View Post
                When it becomes more stressful than it is fun, you need to reassess. There's many ways to enjoy horses that don't require competing at the elite level. You just have to find your joy in a new way.
                It's easy to lose sight of the fact that there are many, many, many ways to enjoy horses that don't require competing at all, or even riding, for that matter.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kande04 View Post

                  It's easy to lose sight of the fact that there are many, many, many ways to enjoy horses that don't require competing at all, or even riding, for that matter.
                  I mean we all saw that video of the guy with the mini and the roller skates, right?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I feel ya OP. A couple of years ago I had a riding accident that almost cost me my job. I share the lack of desire to jump the big sticks, unfinished dreams, and age creeping up on me.

                    One thing that has helped me move forward after my fall was forgetting about what I used to do and the rider I was. I focus now on the rider I am. I am no longer fearless. I am no longer the rider I was. It took a while to come to terms with all that but I am happy. I sent training goals now instead of show goals. That helps too.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by hairystockings View Post
                      I think this happens to every real world adult amateur, multiple times, through our riding careers as we get older and life gets busy and bodies change. I recently made the decision I have no real interest to try to get back to the 3' ring, and am sticking with the 2'6. I also transitioned out of jumpers and over to hunters and eq. It's what fits my lifestyle best and doesn't stress me out, it's still fun. My trainer has told me I'm capable of more than that, she thinks I could be competitive in the 3' adult eq. I agree with her, I could be. But my work schedule doesn't allow me to ride often enough to be fit enough to confidently get around those courses, it's too stressful and not fun and wouldn't be fair to whatever horse I'm on. So I let logic win out and said I know, but I'll pass. I don't think you should view this as on your way down, the adult amateur set makes up the majority of the horse world, including in USEF. We in the 2'6 ring are not on our way down, we're just enjoying ourselves.

                      I think what's really important for adults (and especially those that rode competitively as juniors) is to remember that this is supposed to be fun. When it becomes more stressful than it is fun, you need to reassess. There's many ways to enjoy horses that don't require competing at the elite level. You just have to find your joy in a new way.
                      Agree with this so much. I took two long breaks as an adult (terrible idea!!) and the bravery I had in my 20's and early 30's did not return with me this time. I returned to the show ring last year for the first time in about 12 years, and I'm back in the 2'6" ring this year. I had been doing the adults when I stopped the last time, and I do want to get back to that ring (my trainer says low a/o's, I say adults, lol, we'll see!!). I'm delighted just to be back out there, and back even at 2'6". Sure, I want to move up, but I'm on no timetable at all, and if my feelings on that change, so be it. At this stage, work and life intervene a lot, so I recognize I just have to take what saddle time I can get. I would progress a lot faster if I could lesson more, but I can't, my job is very time consuming. I deal with that by keeping my focus on getting better and making steady progress -- so long as I'm improving, I'm happy, and wherever that takes me is fine with me. By focusing on the progress, even on little things, it keeps me from getting frustrated by what I'm not doing yet. I've also realized that in my 40's, I can't ride just anything, I need a particular type of ride to be comfortable (I like the forward, lock in and take you to the jump kind of ride, can't stand to stick and spur ride to the jumps!). By accepting these limitations/parameters, I eliminate a lot of the frustrations and can focus on getting better and having fun.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You need to rethink your goals with horses and riding, they are not and should not be those of a 25 year old. There's really no "up or down" for a lifetime non pro rider, there's only continuing to enjoy the horses and riding...not like you have to be up for year end awards or sweat qualifying your sale horses for Indoors. IMO those are peer pressure driven goals anyway, they don't create personal happiness and enjoyment, just get a rider some shiny things and get horses sold. The persuit of such things often knock the fun out of riding and center more on meeting the expectations of others, not inner fulfillment.

                        If you don't let yourself get wrapped up in other people's definitions of what you should be doing, you can certainly enjoy riding for a good long time and, really, as a mature Adult, it's your deal, nobody else's. Don't let them stress you out trying to meet their goals which they have for their own reasons,

                        Have several friends who got tired of the jumps looking bigger every year and longer recovery times from fallls, possibly missing work or needing help with home chores. Couple went to Dressage, few others went to the Western side and AQHA, they are all enjoying it greatly and doing quite well, finding many challenges to work towards, without jumps and far fewer falls. Spending less too.

                        Think about it, do you really want to continue riding and being with horses or are you focusing just on meeting expectations just involving jumping? And are those really yours or somebody else's? And are they based on the here and now or on your younger self and long gone peer group?


                        Just food for thought.



                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I rode a bit as a kid, but started again when I was 40. I went from 2'6" to 3' to 3'6" and down to 3' to 2'6", which is where I am now at 66 years old. It was always all about having a horse that loved its job and wanted to help me. My test was always whether it was fun at home schooling. Horse shows were not the measure of fun, but just something to push me.

                          I don't understand why people do so much equating of skill and horsemanship to jumping height. Just entering the in gate and getting around any course is a challenge, regardless of height. Keep on doing what is fun for you.
                          Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This is why God invented Dressage.....
                            "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                            "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hairystockings View Post

                              I mean we all saw that video of the guy with the mini and the roller skates, right?
                              :-D

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by KBC View Post
                                This is why God invented Dressage.....
                                Now that's some great advice :-D

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  So much changes as we go through life - don't be hard on yourself, Find what works for you and don't apologize or regret- it sounds like you are a great person with a wonderful life- enjoy what you have and what you accomplish and be proud!!
                                  "All life is precious"
                                  Sophie Scholl

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Momateur View Post
                                    Guess I'm just looking for a little support, commiseration, and comparative experiences....

                                    I always thought that someday I'd reach my goal the Jr/AO jumpers. But, you know how it is with horses. The best laid plans often fail. I was almost there, and then my horse colic'ed and required surgery. The road back was really long, and we never quite got back to the same level. A demanding job, kids, a cross-country move, and several years later....here I am. I can get around a 3' course alright now, but it's no thing of beauty.

                                    At this point, I'm starting to face reality. I'm scared of anything over 3' (with just cause, because my eye stinks now). I don't have the finances, time, or family support to reach any elite levels. These things are not likely to change in the near future, and I am not young anymore. This is hard for me to accept, because horses have been my life. Am I really on the way down already?

                                    I know there's a lot of adult riders and re-riders on here. I was wondering how you cope with these realities. Of COURSE I still love horses (mine in particular because he's an angel). I'll ride 'til I'm 80, God willing! I just thought I had more potential, and I never reached it. Has anyone here had to reset goals/priorities/expectations?

                                    Sorry this post sounds so whiny! Believe me, I know how lucky I am to be around horses at all....and I will always be grateful for that.
                                    I think one needs to be realistic and look around and see exactly how many people are accomplishing a goal at one's own age, material circumstances, and level of financial commitment.

                                    The less time you have in the day, the more trainer support you need. The less time you have in years, the more you need multiple horses so there is no lost time, which is why really ambitious juniors are advised to lease horses and give them back when they break, so they can win big before they age out of junior competition. Plus they get wrap around trainer support.

                                    So the barriers are not just aging (I bet you are actually some ridiculously young age like 36 anyhow ). The barriers are economic and about life choices too. And actually many women report losing their fearless nerve after having kids.

                                    On the other hand we can certainly become better all around horse people as we get older and wiser, more patient, and less goal oriented.

                                    When you love an activity like horses in its totality, it's OK for your actual goals to change and evolve so that you are doing things that are achievable and enjoyable.

                                    I'd say around here anyhow that jumping 3 foot is a dividing line much like Second Level dressage, and most people do not get above it at any age, even with nice horses.



                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I ride with a woman in her seventies who is currently showing in the 2'6" low adults. And she has told me that she has accepted that she likely will not ever jump any higher. And she LOVES it. She loves being able to ride at all, loves being able to show, loves the social element of it. She is just the happiest person who just is so glad to be able to do it at all.

                                      I try to spend as much time with her as possible to absorb and hopefully one day adopt her amazing attitude towards life, aging and riding. She's my hero.

                                      Not to mention that in our zone, the low adults are stupid competitive! So it is still a challenge to put together a good trip and win a good ribbon regardless of the height at which they are jumping.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I have many of the same struggles you describe, but I still desperately want to get to the AOs someday. It leads to some days where I am very depressed about how little progress I am making, despite everything I have given up to be able to participate in this sport.
                                        I try to be happy with what I have, but there is nothing on this earth gives me the thrill and pure joy that jumping a 4' oxer does.
                                        Unfortunately I don't have anywhere near the skill I need to jump a full course at that level. Add to that an aging horse that I constantly worry whether I will know when it is too much for him. So here I am, plodding along, getting older (as is my horse), and making incremental improvements in my riding. At this rate, I just need another 40 years- lol!

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