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Adult "Re-Rider," first ever horse show this weekend- tips?

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  • Adult "Re-Rider," first ever horse show this weekend- tips?

    Hi all! This is my first post... eek! (I've been lurking for a while, hehe)

    Anyhow, I rode a bit when I was young but never competitively. This year I have returned to the saddle now at 30 years young. I've been riding quite a lot with a trainer for the last 7 months and she's convinced me to compete in a few classes at a local show this weekend.

    My questions- are there any others out there who only truly began riding h/j as an adult and began competing early? Is it odd to be in a ring as an adult with very young ladies and gentlemen? Any recommendations of benchmarks that you set for yourself, classes that you particularly enjoyed early on, etc? I am very ambitious and would love to progress in my riding, and need to get my start somewhere!
    Sit up and kick on! ~Phoebe Buckley

  • #2
    Have a glass of wine before you go in. Trust me on this one.

    As a fellow re-rider (I was very competitive as a junior, took 16 years off, then went back down the slippery slope to owing multiples and competing), I have been where you are at. The first show I did was an in barn schooling show, and I was so happy to just get around without throwing up or falling off. At that point, I had been back riding about 6 months. All hell broke loose after that first show, as my husband likes to point out, and I quickly started showing at rated shows again.

    No, it is not odd to be in the ring with the young ones, but it can be intimidating. Nothing like having a fearless 10 year old put down a perfect round right before you. But at the same time, it will keep you thinking, "if the kid can do it, surely I can too."

    I still have issues with confidence, partly because of a terrorist trainer that I rode with for numerous years when I started back. Hindsight is 20/20. I stick to the pre-adult classes, and my horse is very happy to cart my fanny around 2'6" all day long. I actually am looking forward to being able to compete in the "masters" classes for those of us who have been around a bit longer. My goal at every horse show is to stay out of my horse's way. Thank God that he's the brains of the operation and I just have to steer.

    Have fun. Good luck. And have a glass of wine.
    My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
    ReRiders Clique


    • #3
      My armchair advice is "don't bite off more than you can chew." I recently started riding again after a 7-year school-induced break. I rode AQHA all-around as a junior, did tons of hunter under saddle and equitation, but, beyond a disastrous brush with hunter hack, never did H/J. My sister followed me into riding, and went from AQHA all-around, to AQHA hunters, to rated show Junior Hunters, to a little bit of jumpers, so I've been involved in the H/J world, and that's what my trainer mostly does. Right now I'm riding a sale horse just to build riding muscles but at some point I'm going to start lessons and slowly dip my toe into jumping. I imagine my first show, many months down the road, will be a very nerve-wracking build-up to a very pedestrian cross-rails round, and I'm totally ok with that.

      And yes, I will be having a beer or two before showing!
      Cowboy up.


      • #4
        OP you described me exactly. Except I was 37. I did my first show on a large pony (we can show ponies as adults in our local circuit) and did the 18" division. Yes, I was at least twice as old as the next oldest competitor. I was soundly beat by 7 year olds. And I loved it.

        Advice? Have fun. Make your goals based on you - not the others. Still I am thrilled if I have a good ride, no matter what the ribbons are.
        A proud friend of bar.ka.


        • #5
          Well, my goal is to show next spring/summer. I'm a re-re-rider, at the magic age of (will be) 60! Ha, ha, wish me luck. If it's any where near the fun I've been having re-riding for the last three years, it's going to be a blast. No advice because I haven't done it yet, but I would guess don't worry and have fun.
          Mon Ogon (Mo) and Those Wer the Days (Derby)


          • Original Poster

            Thank you all so much!

            I'm so excited... I think I just got a little nervous! I'm finally living out my childhood dream, and as my husband says, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood!"

            I love the idea of stirrup cups... I mean if they do it in fox hunting, why not at local shows, right!? (* mischievous giggle*)
            Sit up and kick on! ~Phoebe Buckley


            • #7
              Well first of all, 30 is not old! As for tips, here are a few:

              - You want the day of the show to be as stress free as possible, so - with your trainer's help, make a list of things you need to do, and bring to the show.

              - Get there way before your first class. If you can, allow enough time for you to sit and watch some classes, whole your horse relaxes by the trailer, or in a stall.

              - enlist a friend to be your "groom" for the day. They don't even have to be a horse person. Just have someone there who can run get your number/gloves/crop or whatever else you forget back at the trailer. They can also make sure you drink and eat enough throughout the day, and keep a water bucket filled for your horse.

              - Make sure you and your trainer are on the same page. When I taught lessons, I always made sure I knew what each students' goal was for the show. Sometimes it's just to have fun, and not fall off -and that's ok!

              - Be flexible. If you need to scratch or add classes, then that's ok! If you have to trot every fence - then go for it!

              - Try and push yourself a little past your comfort zone, but not to the point where you are wanting to hurl.

              - Above all - have fun!!!!
              The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!


              • #8
                Definitely bring some wine. For reals.


                • #9
                  You mean you're only 30, yourself? <gasp> In my book, you don't even count as a re-rider unless you haven't RIDDEN for 30 years Just kidding, of course - but that's what I did. And yeah, after about 6 mos., I too decided I wanted to show, just at our local charity show, but what the heck - it was what budget and body could both somewhat reasonably do. I showed some for other people in my teens as a catch rider, but that's just not the same. Even though I got to ride some really nice horses that way, when the owners keep all the swag, somehow...even though it's not about the ribbons...at the end of the day, you're missing something. Actually, what you're missing is the really nice horse!! But I decided, having missed out on so much, that I would give myself one tiny little, way off the A circuit, "show season," one year of my life. And it was a blast. So you go get that childhood dream! And remember there was one codger out there who did it who was way the crap older than you!!!
                  Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!


                  • #10
                    Get out there and just have fun. Enjoy the day, enjoy the horse....who cares who is in the ring with you. We all started out at different points, but it doesn't matter.

                    To a real horsewoman it should be about having fun and enjoying your horse and not getting sucked into the emotional drama that some of these show people live for....

                    Report back in after the show and HAVE FUN!!


                    • #11
                      Just mix a mimosa for yourself and put it in a travel coffee mug, it's always good for the nerves Have fun is the most important thing! It doesn't matter what color ribbons you get, you've just come back to riding this year! Don't put too much pressure on yourself! Enjoy the day and remember to smile and breathe!


                      • #12
                        My mom showed Western Pleasure before kids entered her world, then spent the next twenty years carting me and my appy mare to 4H and hunter shows. After almost thirty years of not showing, her most recent trail horse is now a retired geriatric. Last weekend I was going to take my OTTB to a small saddle club show to get some extra miles, and convinced my mom to take my little mare. After years off, and coming from a western and trailriding background, she went in a w/t HUS class and took 2nd! She was thrilled to bits. I think if she had advice, it would be to remember to keep it fun and pack sunscreen


                        • #13
                          I started riding at 30 and I am well, AARP knows who I am. I also rode a hot, crazy mare when I started riding. She was very talented but hot and I could never show with any stallion around. Some days were complete humiliation other days I could get a major ribbon, she always chose.

                          So, I had to focus on the fact that I had paid fees (yes, there is that) to be showing and that I deserved my 3 minutes in the ring. That is always my focus-I paid to be here, humiliation is a zen thing, and I would rather be here than working-specifically enduring a performance review. It is all good, as long as I pay my bills in the horse world.

                          That is my mantra, even when showing my easy going TB. I now have an OTTB that I intend to show, we shall see how that goes but I deserve my 3 minutes in the ring, regardless of the outcome.


                          • #14
                            HAVE FUN!!!!!! As adults who are beginners we have to at least realize that if it's not fun it's not worth spending the money. And the advice about having your drink of choice on hand. DO IT!!!!!! It really does work. Keep us posted!!!


                            • #15
                              I was going to suggest some liquid courage as well

                              I'd also second getting there superduper early and bring things you think you might even not need, because you might. Set a realistic, simple goal for yourself that's not too general like "maintain a constant pace" or "aim for the center of the jumps." I just did my first show ever at 24 and was beat soundly by little girls in pigtails on their ponies while my big Thoroughbred pretended the course was a steeplechase. I've never had so much fun.
                              “Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker, and more intelligent.” -George Morris


                              • #16
                                I agree that a "groom"/cheerleader helps tremendously. I also think that setting very clear, simplistic goals are in your best interest. Lastly, antacids or an adult beverage.............
                                The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)


                                • #17
                                  lots of good advice here... I will add to the chorus:

                                  Assume everything will take twice as long as it usually does. (I ride dressage, so I have ride times, which helps.)
                                  Take a helper (NOT your trainer, who should be there anyway, but someone to help you with grooming/holding the horse/getting stuff for you etc.)
                                  Consume wine/mimosa/anti-anxiety med a bit before your first class.
                                  Be absolutely 100% sure you know your course! Watch other competitors if possible, but be sure they're using the same course as you will.
                                  HAVE FUN!!!
                                  You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                  1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Hi all!

                                    Again, thank you so so much for your words of wisdom and encouragement! I had a WONDERFUL time! It sure was a learning experience- there are so many things that go into showing that don't even cross my mind normally- like keeping clean (to my DH's chagrin,) hehehe.

                                    I ended up doing just fine- esp. since the overarching goal was to stay on. I did a w/t hunter hack class, two w/t/c equitation classes, a w/t/c pleasure (with a fairly displeased pony by that point), and a course of cross rails. I was grinning like a goon through it all. As for ribbons I ended up placing in all- but started off with a 9th, which is to be expected- I was gripping so tight when I entered the ring that my poor gelding was thinking, "canter?" I followed that by four 3rd places, but honestly I could could have placed last and still be as pleased as punch. It's opened up a whole new REALM of horsey knowledge to learn.

                                    I also am so excited about using this forum, and the wonderful people who are so willing to lend their expertise. Thank you, and you bet your buttons that I'll be participating a lot more- both on these forums and in the ring! Sometimes you just have to go for it.

                                    Sit up and kick on! ~Phoebe Buckley


                                    • #19
                                      What a wonderful update! As an adult who has become a re-rider due to injury (me) that left me out of the saddle for a while, it is fun to read someone else's thoughts that totally echoed mine when I rode in my first show this summer--in more than a year. It sure is fun, isn't it?

                                      Keep on posting with your riding adventures-we are a bunch of enablers and supporters here!
                                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                      • #20
                                        So glad you had a good time!

                                        I am a re-rider too. My first show back, after my 19 year hiatus, was a local schooling show and all I did was one W/T class. I came in 6th out of 6, and there were only 2 adults and 4 kids! But I had a great time, and I knew it was just the beginning. I was hooked again, just like when I was a teenager.

                                        I bought my horse 2 months later, and we are now in our second season of showing together. We even did our first "baby level" combined test this May --I'd never ridden a dressage test before! Admittedly, we looked like a Hunter trying to do a dressage test, but it was so much fun.

                                        Just take it all at your own pace, and enjoy.

                                        Oh, and always have some celebratory champagne to drink after your classes are done! Even if some young whipper snapper beats me in the ring, the champagne is one thing I can do that they can't -- HA!
                                        Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion.... ~ Emerson