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Getting back into JUMPING at age 50! Need some comeback stories!!

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    Getting back into JUMPING at age 50! Need some comeback stories!!

    Any adults out there who can share a really positive story about quitting jumping (not just riding) and then getting back to jumping (not dressage or just starting to ride again) at an older age? Don't tell me about a 30 year old who stopped jumping at 20 and started again at 30. That's not old!

    So I haven't jumped consistently pretty much my entire life. Had green horses, then no horses, then a horse and jumped around 2'6"-2'9", then daughter got into riding so I gave it up to afford it for her. So from age 42-47 I would borrow a horse, or take a lesson, or partial lease for maybe 2 or 3 months, but mostly it was 6 months of no jumping, then 2-4 weeks of jumping. That sort of thing. Always starting again. 2'6" started to look like 3 ft. Then 2 ft looked like 2'6", etc.

    So now I've only jumped like 4 times in the past 3 years and the last time was 18 months ago. But I quit jumping because 1) it scared me and 2) it was less accessible than dressage.

    Something hit me the other day and I hated myself for quitting. Thinking "was that the last time I will ever jump?". So I am back again. Taking 2 lessons per week on a friend's ex 3'6" jumper mare who is now around 20 years old but can still do 2'6". She's def a jumper, which is fine with me because she has no stop (my biggest fear). We are doing a whopping 18" right now until I get stronger position.

    So not only do I want to jump again. I want to jump higher than before. I've done a few singles at 3 ft, and even a 4 ft vertical in Ireland at age 30 before kids. But I want to jump and jump well and jump higher.

    Anyone out there take a LONG time off and get back into it better than every before? BTW I am very fit. Work out all the time, and can outpace most 20 year olds. So fitness isn't an issue. Talent maybe, but I am athletic. It's pretty much mental.

    Give me some good comeback stories!!!
    Last edited by meghanathtf; Jul. 27, 2020, 04:13 PM.

    Well, I haven't stopped and come back to jumping....but I'm getting close to 40 and learning for the first time. Is that good enough? I did my first "course" a month ago and I'm probably going to be doing my first show in a month going over 12". I'm currently riding lesson horses, but my mare is finally starting to bounce back health wise and so I'm hopeful that I can take her around a 12" course soonish. She's going to think I was abducted by aliens or something because while she's been off I've started to learn how to jump and broken through my fear of the canter.


      I have a good friend in her 60's who took around 30 years off, and just came back to riding and showing, and has found as much joy as ever in it, if not more! She was back in the 3' adults within a year of getting back into the ring. Having the desire to do it is a good first step, because you can overcome your nerves if you really want to jump! Getting the right horse is a big part of that - a horse that you know is always going to get you to the other side of the jump.

      I'm in my late 40's and took a longer break than I should have and lost my confidence, and when I came back, 2' looked like plenty, and 2'6" looked aspirational. But I got a horse that I knew was always going to jump the jump and forgive a mistake, and pretty quickly the long stirrup seemed easy, and the pre adults seemed within reach. Then the pre adults seemed easy and I told my trainer that was no longer the destination, I wanted more. And I just bought my adult horse this year, and in a matter of months with her, the 2'6" looks small, we've done some 2'9" trips, and I am very close to moving back into the 3'. So, what looks daunting can quickly become comfortable, and I think a big part of it is being mounted on a horse that gives you confidence and that you can trust. Also, never hurts to watch some people jumping bigger courses than you, then your jumps look smaller in comparison Just have fun with it and don't put pressure on yourself! I had a hard time accepting that I couldn't fix everything overnight, and be back to what I used to do, and my trainer really helped me enjoy the process and the progress as we gradually put the pieces back together.


        Two important things, IME- Make sure you are riding a horse (or horses) appropriate for your level, choosing your trainer accordingly. And do your very best to ride regularly, preferably multiple days per week. Not only is it important to practice the physical skills of riding, but it gets *so much harder* to bounce back mentally and physically after taking a break as I get older. A week long break now feels like a month used to, and a couple of months feels like years.


          Me! Rode as a kid up till I was 30. Showed some but never had the funds to do tons of shows. So I fox hunted, groomed, exercised polo ponies, etc. Took 25 yrs off - worked, had kids, etc. Decided to take a few lessons, leased a horse and did the 2’6” hunters. Then I bought a young horse (7 year old) and now doing Low A/O Hunters. Having a blast and competing against much younger riders (with success)! So you can do it!!

          One thing that makes a big difference, IMO, is to ride as much as possible. I ride 4-5 times a week - sometimes an extra horse too. It makes a big difference in fitness and gaining your confidence back. And of course the right horse makes all the difference! When I bought my horse my goal was 3’ Adults. He gave me so much confidence and has so much scope that the 3’3” seems easy (for him at least).


            I never had much money as a kid, or a young adult, so I didn’t get to show much or have a horse until I was in my 40’s. Did Long Stirrup at age 45, then slowly moved up to Adult Amateur in my 50’s. It was a great experience. Good luck, and enjoy the journey!
            It's 2020. Do you know where your old horse is?


              Not a Re-Rider, but DH did not start riding until he was 56.
              We did Hunters (Low ,Novice Adult, A/A - 2'6 divisions) then moved on to Eventing with a side of Dressage.
              Showed with his green horse as BNR, schooled to Training at home. Where we were lucky to have a course on 40ac with fences BN to Training available to us.
              We even had a water crossing: creek to jump into & out.
              He was in his mid-late 60s at this time.
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                I did 3'6" hunters as a kid, went to college, more school, etc., and decided to tackle the jumpers when I got back into it in my early 30s. I just turned 50 and last year moved up to the 1.20m with my fantastic horse. My goal in the longterm is to get up to 1.40+m and maybe do some mini prix with him. Not done yet!

                You can do it; being fit will definitely help. I started running a few years ago to keep up with my semi of a WB, and this has made a big difference. As others have said, try to ride as much as you can. I'm on the lookout for a baby jumper to bring along at some point soon so I will get more riding and eventually more ring time. Taking just a week off is horrible when you get past your 30s, I've found.

                Good luck and have fun! One thing that occurs as a piece of advice: don't let your brain tell you the horse isn't capable of doing it, or that you need to fuss a lot to make it happen. When I was a kid my trainer used to make us walk up to 3'6" jumps and take them like that. When I first started jumping again that was something I would remind myself of: the horse can do it, just figure out how to help or stay out of its way!

                ETA: I *believe* I was the one who originally coined the Re-rider term on this board. I tried to find my old post from back in 2003 but I couldn't. When I started again I had all of the fears and worries you could imagine (and thus the re-rider thing- I was trying to find community), but although I'm still an ammy and make ammy mistakes, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
                You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil


                  Did HJ as a kid, then again as a youngish adult, along with some eventing. Had a horse that didn't want to jump so I switched to dressage and rode in a dressage program for about ten years, showing through fourth level. By then I had a different horse and decided to have the HJ trainer at the stable start him over fences for some variety. Then she had me ride him in a lesson. She talked me into going to a small schooling show and my dressage career was pretty much history. I was not quite 50 when I transitioned back. Showed through 3' for a few years, had to retire that horse, and have had bad luck with lameness issues. Subsequent horse turned out to be a wobbler. Current horse is awesome, but I've spent roughly 40% of the time I've owned him rehabbing him. It is not helpful that his sound periods coincide with the winter months which, while mild here in Southern California, can be pretty muddy. We got in one show in March before Covid and then he went lame again.
                  The Evil Chem Prof


                    My father took his first lesson at age 53. He retired from riding at 78. This photo was taken of him at 78 years old. Anything is possible


                      Original Poster

                      Great stories everyone!!!! I'm grinning and full of hope!

                      Addressing some of the points above, I am half leasing a dressage horse and riding him 3 times a week with one dressage lesson per week. My instructor LOVES that I have started jumping again. She teaches biomechanics and she has helped me feel so much more secure in the saddle. Riding off the inside of my thigh with my knee pointed down and my foot right under my hip and shoulder. I feel more balanced and secure than every before. Which is why I felt like tackling jumping again. (looking back on videos I was riding more on the back of my leg with my thigh off, toes pointed out and too much weight in my heel and not enough through the thigh. This made my lower leg swing and caused me to be unbalanced. So no wonder jumping scared me. I wish I had learned this better position years ago).

                      The other horse I am riding is an amazing trainer's/friend's who is around 20 years old and MADE. She's a jumper but 100% honest. I am riding her once a week in the close contact saddle on my own and then taking 2 over fences lessons. This trainer also teaches me very similar to the dressage trainer in that it's all about body position. She has me really carrying my hand and really feeling super secure in the saddle (my homework is watching a lot of McLain Ward videos...yep that's my goal lol!).

                      So every week I am riding 6 days a week with 2 different instructors and 2 different disciplines.

                      All I can say is that for my whole life, when I would get in my car for a jumping lesson, I was scared. My heart would race and my palms would sweat. But I truly think that finding instructors who have FINALLY taught me the correct body position has made my confidence soar. I feel tight as a tick in the tack and very safe for the first time in my life. This has made all the difference.

                      Loved reading these stories! Dawglady - holy cow your dad!!!!! What an athlete! And Madison - I love how you progressed and each height started to seem smaller! That's what I am hoping will happen with me. Of course right now we are barely jumping. The trainer is very good and wants to make sure I can adjust the mare's stride and ride with a soft hand, using my body correctly, etc. I do believe that the slower you go in the beginning, the faster you will go later.


                        Originally posted by DawgLady View Post
                        My father took his first lesson at age 53. He retired from riding at 78. This photo was taken of him at 78 years old. Anything is possible
                        This is awesome! Thanks for sharing it.


                          Originally posted by NaturallyHappy View Post

                          This is awesome! Thanks for sharing it.
                          He's a nut, isn't he?! When I was 13, he bought me this 16.3 locomotive of a thoroughbred as a "children's hunter." I was terrified of him. He ripped blisters in my hands daily. So, my dad decided the most logical decision would learn to ride Stormy himself! The rest is history. He's showed up to about 1.15m all over the country. When he'd ride a good round, he'd take off his helmet and run around the ring whooping. Always made everybody crack up. His riding journey is an inspiration to many.


                            OP, it may seem counterintuitive but I feel that jumping improves dressage. One sees so much holding back and fussing with the reins (with eyes down) in much dressage today, and rarely sees an all out extended canter. Or even a forward entry down center line. Maybe your dressage instructor can even incorporate some Prix Caprilli jumps into your lessons.

                            It's amazing how much fun riding can be when you feel safe. And are just old enough not to give a rip about what others think.

                            DawgLady, your dad's purchase reminds me of a story my trainer told me. She was hunting in Long Island (her uncle was MFH) and Harry de Leyer had a bunch of kids with him. His little boy was on an absolute volcano. Harry was quite the horse trader and when confronted by staff about the situation, said he wanted to honestly list the horse for sale as having been 'hunted by a child in a plain snaffle.'


                              I quit jumping when I bought my first horse - she had problems with toe cracks on her left front hoof (I did bar shoes, wedge pads, equilox - for a while I was spending more money on the farrier than board) and I was afraid that the force of jumping would exacerbate the cracks. Other than occasionally popping her over a log while trail riding, I did not jump for more than 20 years. Then I bought a 2 year old filly who, from a standstill in deep snow, jumped out of the field when I saw her at her breeder's farm. Seeing her jump out motivated me to start jumping lessons again at age 50. I found a local H/J trainer with solid school horses, and after a few months decided to train some of my other horses to jump. I started my filly over small jumps (she's now 5) last fall (haven't done much jumping this year due to COVID). Anyways, I've had a blast getting back out onto cross country courses (which I've always preferred to stadium). I haven't done anything over 2'6" - 2'7", but I think this filly has the scope to go higher and I'm looking forward to bringing her along. My primary interest is dressage, but I think my filly would much prefer to be a field hunter.

                              Having an experienced horse you can trust is key to getting back into jumping. And if you can, try to get out on a cross country course with inviting, low fences - it's so much fun! Or try a non-competitive hunter pace with the option of jumping whatever you're comfortable trying and simply go around the rest of the jumps.


                                My mom and I started riding around the same time. I was 8, she was 37. After the lease on my small pony ended we spent my entire junior career sharing horses. Fancy enough for me to show in the children's hunters or the 1.10m jumpers, and safe enough for her to flat and do small courses.
                                Like you she's always been active, triathalons, half marathons, etc. She's struggled with keeping a solid seat and leg, much of that from a serious back injury in her 20's (not horse related).
                                She'll be 60 next year and we still lesson together sometimes. Her current horse is 17 and is a saint, they march around 2'6" courses. She also flats my A/O hunter if I'm away. He's 11, I'm hoping they might be able to hit the century club!

                                She never stopped riding, just started late. However, my parents usually go away for the winters so she often doesn't ride from Dec-April and has to brush the rust off come spring. Myself or a part boarder will keep her horse going for her while she's away.


                                  We had a couple in our barn that took lessons and jumped little fences into their 80s.