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How old can you still return/start to the show world?

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  • How old can you still return/start to the show world?

    This is a question for people who have left the show world for a number of years and have now decided to return; or those people of a "certain" age that have decided to pursue their dreams of showing ...

    How old were you when you did this, and what level of success can you reasonably be expected to achieve? I ask because I'm not exactly young and have just started showing in the last couple of years. My body isn't as fit and strong as it could be and I am wondering if maybe I'm getting a little old to achieve my dreams of:
    - showing 3' to 3'6" in the hunter ring
    - competing in A rated shows
    - competing in a hunter derby
    - compete in a medal finals
    - making it to a major national show

    Thanks.

  • #2
    With the right finances and motivation I don't see why you couldn't do all of those, except for competing in medal finals, as the major medals are only for Jrs. I'm guessing you're not a Junior any more, so you would be ineligible to compete in events like the Maclay, USET, etc. There are some Adult medals at 3', however.

    Some of your goals are going to be much more easily obtainable than others. For instance, if you want to spend the money, you could go to an A show now. There are classes for just about every level of rider at most A shows these days. Qualifying for a national final would take more time, money and skill, but I wouldn't let my age be what stopped me from trying. Usually the limiting factor in qualifying for Indoors is one of the three elements I mentioned - a lack of time, money, or skill, not age.

    If you enjoy showing and want to pursue those goals, I don't see any reason not to try. Find a good trainer and let them guide you in how best to achieve those goals.

    Comment


    • #3
      I got back in at age 45 after an 8 year gap and rode over fences for the first time after a lifetime doing Western. Made AA and zone level competency in the 3' Hunters. Had no desire to go higher, further, faster...age is more then a number (thats a young persons myth) and the body is less forgiving whether you want it to be or not. The brain too...things you used to relish make you say "maybe not" to yourself. But this can be dealt with and need not limit you from enjoying the sport-you need to face them though. Don't beat yourself up for not thinking like a 22 year old or feeling 122 when you wake up the next morning after a bad ride or fall.

      IMO it is self defeating to set alot of lofty goals and dwell on not being there yet. Small steps my friend, small steps. Concentrate on perfecting a <1m course and showing there for a year and don't let your mind drift to bigger things and getting unhappy you are not there. Yet.

      Maybe you will realize some of those goals and maybe decide not to persue them at all but enjoy where you are.

      IMO finances are alot more limiting then anything else at any age and that's just the facts of life in any sport. Access to top training and facilities are always an issue and we have to add a capable horse-and not all horses are capable of what we dream of doing with them.

      Try to enjoy what you can do, the horse you have and what you are accomplishing with each small step on your journey. You will find that far more fulfilling then sacrificing everything, including enjoyment, in persuit of some lofty goal you get all depressed you are nowhere near. Adults seem more prone to get so driven they forget to stop and smell the alfalfa, don't do that as it is what makes you old and tired.

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

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Age is certainly not prohibitive. At AA shows, there is an adult hunter section specifically for riders over 50 and it is not a small division. There are also riders over 50 competing in the A/O classes at 3'6.

        How quickly you can get to the AA 3' or 3'6 ring depends on a lot of factors. One, what are you doing now? You've been showing for a couple years, but in what and at what level? If you are doing walk trot, you are further away than if you are successfully campaigning in the low adults at 2'6.

        The other poster is exactly right to say that anyone can show at an A rated show if they are willing to pay for it. HITS has classes at every height: 2', 2'3, 2'6, 2'9, 3', etc. There are hunter derbies now at many shows at 3' and below. HITS has a 3' hunter prix, but a lot of C rated shows are also starting to offer occasional derby classes, sometimes at heights as low as 2'6.

        You could qualify for the Ariat Adult Medal finals, NAL Adult Hunter finals, etc. and show indoors at Capital Challenge, Washington, or Harrisburg all at 3'. However, making it to these finals requires that you spend the money showing getting the points needed to qualify.

        Your horse is also a HUGE factor. If you have a been there, done that AA packer veteran who has done 3'6 at that level for years, you will have a much easier road ahead of you than if you have a green broke 4 year old who is just started over fences.

        Sandcastle is spot on. Yes, you can definitely achieve those goals later in life. It really depends on time, money (funds to show with and to buy/lease an appropriate mount to help you achieve your goals), and your skill level (which can improve with time and money!). Find a trainer who has taken other riders where you want to be.

        Good luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          You have gotten three excellent responses, and I'll only add that there are lots of worthwhile goals to have with your horse that may not involve A shows. (By the way, did you know that AQHA has a special division for the "Over-50" crowd, complete with a National Show?) I am not against showing at all, but as several have pointed out, a lot depends on money and having just the right horse.

          You could try a hunter pace, aim for an endurance ride, learn to drive a horse, or saving up for a "riding vacation" in Europe. These are all things I've never done in my long life with horses--all things I've wanted to try.
          I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by sammicat View Post
            This is a question for people who have left the show world for a number of years and have now decided to return; or those people of a "certain" age that have decided to pursue their dreams of showing ...

            How old were you when you did this, and what level of success can you reasonably be expected to achieve? I ask because I'm not exactly young and have just started showing in the last couple of years. My body isn't as fit and strong as it could be and I am wondering if maybe I'm getting a little old to achieve my dreams of:
            - showing 3' to 3'6" in the hunter ring
            - competing in A rated shows
            - competing in a hunter derby
            - compete in a medal finals
            - making it to a major national show

            Thanks.
            I spent a couple years doing pretty much just that as a mid-40s working adult ammy. I told myself I was making up for my horse-deprived childhood, when I was a lesson kid for the most part, and my friends were doing the juniors and chasing equitation medals.

            The fitness thing is something you can address at pretty much any age. I got "back into showing" after a serious health issue that left me gasping like a goldfish out of water after one lap of trotting around the ring, LOL... it took me a while, but I got back to the point where I could do a decent sized course bareback with decent form, and not too much trouble. I bet you're fitter than that - so you'll be way ahead of the game!

            IMO, the most critical factors in achieving success in the areas you've listed above are 1. having a suitable horse and 2. being able to afford the necessary training & showing. If you can put those two things together, all the goals you've listed are eminently do-able (and I found them LOTS of fun. )

            Best way to start is to get an honest assessment of where you are starting from (horse and skill wise, plus possibly access to training) and then map out a plan that will get you from that point to the specific shows and classes you target. At the time I was chasing those kinds of goals, I wanted to do the adult hunters and adult eq, with goals of showing at WEF, the New England medal finals (NEHC) and the local medals in that area - PHA, CHJA, etc, and I wanted to do well at a particular show in the area that offered a stunning, old skool show held out in some marvelous big grass fields (complete with big fancy silver trophy, haha.) I managed to get all of that done and had a ball. It cost a bloody fortune and it was worth every penny

            Go for it and enjoy!
            **********
            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
            -PaulaEdwina

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thank you, everyone, for the encouraging words. I returned to the show world as a rider at 40 (I'm 42 now) and I've been showing in the 2' to 2'3" pre-green hunter and equitation classes. I've had some success so I hope I'm on my way. It's also great to see that I am not alone. The local shows seem to be almost all young riders, and I am far and away (almost 20 years) the oldest competitor at my barn so it's easy to forget that there are adults competing.

              That said, you've also brought up a really good point about not getting so fixated on a goal that I forget to enjoy the journey. I'm a classic type-A personality so that's a little foreign to me. And I've been sick for most of the last three months so I've been obsessing over the only thing I CAN do regarding showing and that is planning. I've been cleared by the doctor in the last couple of weeks to start doing short rides, and some cavaletti work, so maybe this obsession will die down somewhat.

              Anyway, thanks again for the perspective and the great ideas! Hearing from people who have been there and done that and have knowledge has helped reassure me that I'm not chasing rainbows.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by findeight View Post
                I got back in at age 45 after an 8 year gap and rode over fences for the first time after a lifetime doing Western. Made AA and zone level competency in the 3' Hunters. Had no desire to go higher, further, faster...age is more then a number (thats a young persons myth) and the body is less forgiving whether you want it to be or not. The brain too...things you used to relish make you say "maybe not" to yourself. But this can be dealt with and need not limit you from enjoying the sport-you need to face them though. Don't beat yourself up for not thinking like a 22 year old or feeling 122 when you wake up the next morning after a bad ride or fall.

                IMO it is self defeating to set alot of lofty goals and dwell on not being there yet. Small steps my friend, small steps. Concentrate on perfecting a <1m course and showing there for a year and don't let your mind drift to bigger things and getting unhappy you are not there. Yet.

                Maybe you will realize some of those goals and maybe decide not to persue them at all but enjoy where you are.

                IMO finances are alot more limiting then anything else at any age and that's just the facts of life in any sport. Access to top training and facilities are always an issue and we have to add a capable horse-and not all horses are capable of what we dream of doing with them.

                Try to enjoy what you can do, the horse you have and what you are accomplishing with each small step on your journey. You will find that far more fulfilling then sacrificing everything, including enjoyment, in persuit of some lofty goal you get all depressed you are nowhere near. Adults seem more prone to get so driven they forget to stop and smell the alfalfa, don't do that as it is what makes you old and tired.

                Enjoy the journey.
                I couldn't have said it better myself!
                Originally posted by rustbreeches
                [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by sammicat View Post
                  This is a question for people who have left the show world for a number of years and have now decided to return; or those people of a "certain" age that have decided to pursue their dreams of showing ...

                  How old were you when you did this, and what level of success can you reasonably be expected to achieve? I ask because I'm not exactly young and have just started showing in the last couple of years. My body isn't as fit and strong as it could be and I am wondering if maybe I'm getting a little old to achieve my dreams of:
                  - showing 3' to 3'6" in the hunter ring
                  - competing in A rated shows
                  - competing in a hunter derby
                  - compete in a medal finals
                  - making it to a major national show

                  Thanks.
                  I just turned 50 this year. I've been showing for about 10 years. I spent a long time in the 2'6" divisions, then moved up to 3'. Last year I did some shows at 3'3". This year I was feeling less confident, so I moved back to 3', but now I'm starting to feel a bit better and, frankly, I miss the handy hunter rounds of the Low AOs. I ride two to three times a week and show 5-10 shows a year (depending on how sound Sam is feeling).

                  I've done several 3' derbies. I am not particularly competitive, but I can mostly get around the course without scaring the spectators too much.

                  You'd be surprised how much you can still achieve. I met a lady at Ocala who was shopping for a horse. I asked her what she was looking for and she said 'I just turned 67 so I don't need a 3'6" horse anymore - I'm looking for a 3' horse'. I didn't know whether to be completely inspired or feel like a total loser! There were several older people riding in the 3'6" AOs and they were AWESOME!

                  Go watch some A shows and hang out during the older amateurs (or the 'most matures' as they're called). You'll see plenty of older people putting in good rides.

                  So, to echo the other posters, yes, your goals are reasonable. To achieve the medal finals and major national show goals, you'll need to make a plan with your trainer and be selective about which shows will likely result in the most points.

                  Go for it and have fun!!!!
                  ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Lucas and others - I'm so inspired!! You are absolutely right that I need to start with a frank assessment of my horse and plan for getting to my goals. A visiting professional schooled my horse yesterday. He and my trainer said that my horse has a good mind and is a forward thinker. He knows what is being asked of him and is capable of short, long, and all kinds of distances. But he is not going to be a push-button, point-and-shoot kind of horse as he needs you to tell him what you want. He is also fighting some genetic issues (large butt from his draft side) that will keep him from having an automatic, on-demand lead change, but he handles his body well enough that this won't be a big deal. He generally lands on the correct lead - the trainer had a hard time getting him to land on the wrong lead - and he will put in a smooth change on his own when it is required. The only significant issue is to not get into a fight with his mouth or get him uptight because he turns "dumb" and will out muscle you. Ride with a loose reign, short crop or bat, and push him from behind.

                    Anyway, hopefully, I will get into better shape - I'm just barely past the gold fish stage - so we can start jumping more.
                    Last edited by CrittersMom; Apr. 3, 2013, 02:55 PM. Reason: Added words

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I started back at 50 after 6 years away from riding. I'm happy in the 2'6" and 3' for now depending on which horse but if my young horses come along I think I'll make it back to the 3'6" hunters again. My desire to do the jumpers again is gone. Its easier to move up now than it was when I was younger because there is literally a division every 3". Its kind of funny. When I was a junior you rode in the 3'6" because that's all there was. How times have changed.... you are just a spring chicken. Enjoy yourself!! I'm type A too but baby steps are more gratifying when it comes to riding.
                      You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        sammicat...thank you for posting this as it has given me some insight into what my future could hold. I am only in my mid 30's but won't be able to afford what I want to do most likely until my late 30's/early 40's and am always concerned that I will have missed my window of opportunity by the time I can actually afford to do something!

                        You all have given me hope that it can still happen:-)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Last week, my sister and I were discussing my purchase of a piece of artwork that some would find wildly inappropriate but that I love and find hilarious....and it was perfect for what I was looking for. She told me, in the wise words of an older sister "Life is short. Enjoy what you can while you can." I feel these are words to live by.

                          Go enjoy your horse, your riding, and your showing. Don't let your age fool you. Move up when you're ready and don't fret about not moving up if you're not ready or just plain old don't want to.
                          Amanda

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm the same age!

                            As long as you're fit, have the finances, the horse, and the desire, why can't you meet your goals?!

                            Wasn't there an Olympic dressage rider in his 70s last year? You've got time!!

                            Enjoy it!!
                            Born under a rock and owned by beasts!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I am 54 years old and returned to the hunter ring last year after a 29 year hiatus from the show world. I bred, trained and showed my own home bred mare and was Champion of my division with 26 entries at a big A circuit hunter show the first time out. This was also the first time I had shown over fences EVER at an A rated show. Never had the money or the opportunity while I was younger. I just happened to breed a once in a life time mare that carried me around that ring like I was an Olympic rider. Kodak moment for sure. We won many more top ribbons and Championships last year and looking forward to another great year this year. As they say "never too old".

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by cherham View Post
                                I am 54 years old and returned to the hunter ring last year after a 29 year hiatus from the show world. I bred, trained and showed my own home bred mare and was Champion of my division with 26 entries at a big A circuit hunter show the first time out. This was also the first time I had shown over fences EVER at an A rated show. Never had the money or the opportunity while I was younger. I just happened to breed a once in a life time mare that carried me around that ring like I was an Olympic rider. Kodak moment for sure. We won many more top ribbons and Championships last year and looking forward to another great year this year. As they say "never too old".
                                That is awesome! I hope my youngsters turn out to be the same for me. Big envy!
                                You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  That is wonderful, cherham--very inspirational! May we see a picture?
                                  I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I agree, you're never too old if your heart is in it. However, at some level you also need a certain amount of time and money, especially for those with goals like the OP's.

                                    There is a lady at my barn I find very inspiring - she is 72 and still jumping. She rode as a junior and had (I think I'm getting this right) a 46 year hiatus. Wow!

                                    For those who aren't there yet, take heart! I never even sat on a horse before I was 30. Now that I'm 49, I find my love is in the jumpers, and I am slowly working my way up the ladder. My original goal was to jump 3'6". After multiple year-end championships and successful shows at that level, I decided to move up. Now we're actually getting competitive in 4' land. I did get really lucky with my horse, he was not expensive but he turned out to be the horse of a lifetime. He's 16 this year, and he's game to help his mom out, as long as she believes in herself.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      So many really great stories! I had no idea when I started the thread. Thank you for sharing and I'm sure they are helping others be inspired.

                                      Keep the stories coming ... this thread isn't about my question anymore, it's about people realizing their dreams!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I am 54. I had a 26 year hiatus from horses while raising kids and life just got in the way. 7 years ago, I was browsing through the paper and saw an ad for a OTTB mare for sale and went to look at her. Bought her for $600 and and found a good trainer and the rest is history. I retrained her and she was a rock star in the jumper ring and was sold to an eventer. That mare is getting ready to do her first 1* in eventing. I now have a 10yo TB jumper and a new WB chestnut mare with lots of chrome to play with in the hunter ring. I am the oldest person at the barn that still jumps but besides some aches and pains I stilll can compete with the younger ones. I ride 7 days per week and can't imagine a life without horses.

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