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Mature or Reriders - How do you do it?

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  • Mature or Reriders - How do you do it?

    I've started riding again after a break of about 35 years and while I'm still only working on trotting I have to ask - how the heck do you do it?

    I've spent so long trailing along behind my daughter at shows watching her and her peers compete in the jumpers that I was lulled into a false sense of competence. Those JR/AOs make it look SOOOOO EASY. I was a fool.

    I only take lessons once a week but I am stiff and sore even without falling off, I still don't have terrific balance and often get left behind when we go from a walk to a trot (feels like the horse is "jumping" into the trot", trotting poles I often get "left in the air"....

    And so much to remember - sit up, sit back, heels down, don't lean, hands steady.....

    I'm serious here - any advice for an aged rerider to ease back into the sport? The horse is a big, kind and forgiving WB mare who has every right to stomp my butt into the arena sand for all the mixed signals, back bouncing, clinging to neck etc.

    Any exercises to get in better shape for riding? Any hints on how to get better balance in the saddle?

    And forget about that sitting trot!!! If you have lumbar disc damage it is a b*tch.

    Kudos to all those that I've ever watched in the showring - children, teens, adults. You guys are amazing.

  • #2
    Those that say you never forget are lying. Haha I took 5 years off for college and came back a total mess, now yeh it was a lot easier to get back into the swing because I understood the concepts but it takes time to get your body into the shape you need to be successful. Don't stress too much. Your body will catch up and you will be fine. My suggestion is to take hot shower after you ride to help with muscle ache and always stretch before and after you ride. The rest is just muscle memory. Soon you will be going along without any problems and you will wonder why you found it so difficult.


    • #3
      You have to ride more often and as many horses as you can get your hands on. Any type of working out to get in better shape helps too. If you are fit and in shape, it will all come back !!!!


      • #4
        Originally posted by Fly_High View Post
        Those that say you never forget are lying. . . . .
        And THAT is the truth more than anything. My first instructor said I needed saddle time, lots of it, and that was true too.

        I've been back riding now for about 4-5 years after a long time off. Gave up my horse in '75, rode off and on, more off than on till '81, then quit cold turkey till 2004. First thing you have to do is get your body back in shape. Get a good stretching program going, start exercises that target your balance. Wii FIT maybe, the ball, some Yoga. A good gym is an excellent place to start. Watch out for that lower back (but a good sitting trot really involves the hip joints too).
        I did the H/J thing and I was frustrated to the point of tears more than once. Did quit, but more because of the usual combinations of things, distance, time, like that. Started saddleseat. Should be easy peasy. Well, every time we did a downward transition or cantered off I was all over the place. The balance is different. Very erect, always seated, I was used to tipping just a tad, and two pointing - correct or not I don't know - but I never got left behind at an upward transition. Never (rarely) got a real lift up and sit down tidy downward transition though either.
        I was quite bemused at first, and then decided I better get to work. Working on the weight (Menopause paugh!), Yoga for stretching, low impact cardio. I have to confess here that I went to the chiro for the first time in my life yesterday. My schoolhorse is deathly afraid of the tractor and bounced and danced all through the lesson Thursday, sitting the canter is difficult enough, "airs above the ground" were a little much.

        'Kay, anyway. Saddle time with defined goals. Private lessons when you can get them (I cheated oh-so-much, just waited for my horse to take the cue from the group). Support and work on your balance and strength outside the arena. Flatwork. It can be done. Good luck.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible


        • #5
          I think you need to ride more than once a week. I took a 15-year hiatus and started riding again in my 30's which is much easier than it would be today. But I rode a lot when I started back - like 4-5 times a week - and I think it makes a real difference. There are few other sports that duplicate the muscles you use in riding so I think you just have to get out there and do it. It will get easier!


          • #6
            Re-rider here, I agree more time in the saddle is the ticket. I also run for cardio.


            • #7
              It never mattered how much time that I took off, I could get on and everything just fell into place.

              I say Pilates for core strength and maybe some upper body strength training.

              You need to try and ride 2-3 times a week in order to get your mojo back...jmho


              • Original Poster

                I've been working out but mostly cardio as I've been "exercise challenged" for many years due to back injury and fibromyalgia pain. We just built a gym at the house so I really have no excuse for not exercising now.

                I have 2 horses but the other one is an older ex-racer that appears to still hope for a return to the track. He is extremely hot even after all these years. The exact opposite of the WB - he is all go and has the most forward walk I've ever seen - always on the verge of a canter. So fear keeps me off of him. I know, excuses excuses. Even trainer's he's had have only tried to ride him once.

                And I'm sure almost all mature riders have the same dilemma of time. The barn is 94 miles round trip from my house and my job keeps me in the office from 7 am to at least 5 pm.

                Right now I've got my daughter giving me lessons. She is surprisingly good (though I should have expected it after 17 years of daily riding up to 10 horses a day sometimes). So I could have lessons every day if I chose to (she is at the barn everyday).

                Also, I have a dietician I see weekly and she keeps telling me that riding horses doesn't burn that many calories and isn't really exercise. Ooooh I beg to differ. At least the way I ride (clinging, bouncing, getting left) I am breathless and exhausted.


                • #9
                  I second more time in the saddle and walking or other exercise to get back in shape!


                  • #10
                    Ah, been there. Done that. Also had chemo that seriously kicked my butt from a strength/fitness standpoint. (My trainer had taught my horse to do a "flying" lead change - and I was so weak when I started riding again that when the horse unexpectedly executed a beautiful lead change I went FLYING off!! Seriously embarassing!)
                    Best advice? Pilates, Pilates, Pilates! It will REALLY help your core, which in turn will help you feel not so left behind on transitions, etc. Didn't realize how out of shape my core was (I'm slender and appear in pretty good shape even when I'm not) until I started working on it.
                    Also, as others have said - ride as much as you can. Once a week is a good start - but you will find it difficult to get better without more practice time.

                    It IS a lot harder than most parents realize - many times when I hear a parent being too hard on a kid rider I want to tell them to climb up and give it a try themselves!

                    ENJOY!! You'll be wanting to go to some shows before you know it!!


                    • #11
                      My advice is take your time. Stay on the WB mare. Don't pressure yourself to do more than your mind and body are really ready for. You'll get in shape and confidence will build. I know from experience that when we mature riders get tired or are overfaced (& I'm not talking just challenged) things can go bad. Your comfort level will expand and you will find yourself accomplishing more and more. I like walking as an exercise- easy but efficient. Ride more than once a week. You'll get there..


                      • #12
                        I'm a re-rider after 29 years. Know exactly the frustration. Except I probably thought I was doing better than I really was, til I saw the pictures and vids. I didn't even think it COULD be that bad. (Where's the "puke" icon?)

                        My advice: definitely ride as many times a week as the bod will allow, and I think you'll see soreness decrease. Maybe lesson twice a week, ride in between. I have fibromyalgia too, and it ain't fun. Yoga and hot baths...well, "help" is not really the right word, but I keep going. If you stop, it's all going to be worse. Try to do stuff that increases leg strength. AND work on your back/hip flexibility and rhythm. Not a lot to think about all at once, is it? Some of my best time is just remembering to hang out with my horse so I can enjoy him without struggling, and remember how much I love the animal and how lucky I am to be at a place in my life when I can have him. Yes, I want to be able to ride well. But I can care for him well and I have seen the change in him since I bought him, and the days when he used to wheel around and present his butt when you opened the stall door to now when he will leave his hay and come to me - you have to savor the victories you can win right now. Draw strength from those to use for your riding, and remember you didn't learn the first time overnight, either. Chances are, giving up just wasn't acceptable to you then. Just don't take no as an answer now, either. Old people can kick butt, too.
                        Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!


                        • #13
                          Isn't it amazing how easy it looks from the ground? When I started riding as an adult, I spent a lot of time apologizing to the horse A lot of it is just muscle memory, which means time riding, which is frustrating for everyone who can't ride as often as we'd like for one reason or another. But you will improve on 1x a week - it just takes longer.


                          • #14
                            I'm not technically a re-rider since I never really rode when I was younger, but I started riding a little over 2 years ago and boy oh, the best thing that has helped me is one on one lessons and upping to twice a week. I've noticed a huge difference since I've been able to get more saddle time. And ditto being back in shape, you will remember once you've improved your muscle strength and such. I used to be a competitive swimmer and when I get in the pool now, I still have the technique just lack the strength and staminda to do what I used to. So since you are a re-rider, you're already way ahead of someone who is just learning how to ride. From here its just practice, lots of baths, and lots of wine


                            • #15
                              I would agree with the above posters. the more time you can ride, the better. Even if you're not "working" on something specific, just getting in the saddle (or bareback at a walk) will help. If you are comfortable on your girl, stick with her. However, each and every horse we ride can teach us something. Take the opportunity to ride others if it comes along. Anything you can do to improve your strength is good too.

                              Probably the biggest thing I've had to do is not compare my self to the "girls" who ride and jump way bigger than I do. I moved up to 2'6" last summer, and will be there a while longer. There are girls doing Juniors at my barn, one bringing along an OTTB who will be doing 3' or up next year (she just sold her 3' horse), and an adult who does level 3 jumpers. It is easy to let myself think that I "should" be jumping higher, but I have to remind myself that I do this for ME. What I feel comfortable at.
                              A proud friend of bar.ka.


                              • #16
                                I took up riding for the first time at 39 -- Wow, was that a challenge. Didn't even have the benefit of having ridden as a kid. Very difficult, but totally do-able.

                                My advice -- LUNGE lessons!!! You really have to get your seat. The rest of it comes afterward, really. If your warmblood mare is good on the lunge, then spend most of your time trotting -- posting, sitting and two-point-- and walking. You do need more than one session a week, though IMHO.

                                Nothing is better than Pilates. You need to develop your core for your balance and evenness in the saddle. I go to someone who does "equestrian pilates," in that she works on specific issues for riders. It's been fantastic!


                                • #17
                                  My body has never forgotten in terms of reflexes. The muscles know what they're suppsoed to to. Also, while I haven't ridden in five years, I haven't been inactive (skating, dancing, etc). However, which muscles have been stretched and which haven't is something else! They just need time to get used to it again, and the only cure for that is work 'em more!
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                                  • #18
                                    And let's not forget that Aleve and Advil are cheap at Sams Club!

                                    Actually, the best thing for sore muscles is to use them again. It allows the lactic acids that build up and make you sore to release.
                                    A proud friend of bar.ka.


                                    • #19
                                      Well - I was in a similar boat. Re-rider after 25 years of not sitting in a saddle once. I was serious as a kid - came back to be serious as a granny (lol -well - I was 40 when I started back again). I second the comments that 2-3 lessons a week are crucial. It's simply too hard to try to redevelop the muscles and balance with just one ride a week. I had a horrible time coming back and was having similar issues.....could only do 1x a week. Finally my trainer came to me and told me that if I truly wanted to do it I was going to have to minimally commit to 2x a week. It made the world of difference. Now - I am a psycho extreme case. After almost 5 years back..... I now ride 5-6x a week - have multiple rides and do the high A/O jumpers. That is not normal - nor do most working adults make or have the time to do that. I think I over read the manual.

                                      Just do the best you can, and focus on enjoying the horses, the time that you spend - and if you can - try to do Pilates or other training that can help get your core and abdomen stronger. That will help you with your back, the soreness, etc. Don't get discouraged. Take a lot of Advil . All the stuff will sort of "click" after many months of trying - and one day you will feel "correct" again!!! Good luck to you.....I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. It's a total joy and lifesaver for me every day and I never ever take it or my amazing horses for granted!!!!!


                                      • #20
                                        If you've got the resources (daughter ) take as many lessons as you comfortably fit into a week (3?). When things plateau in your lessons trade a lesson day for a practice day, then add the extra lessons back in when you hit a wall again...continue forever

                                        Give it a year and you'll have some decent basics.

                                        Invest in ibuprofen.