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Older Riders: When do you know it's time to stop riding?

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  • Older Riders: When do you know it's time to stop riding?

    So, I'll be 55 next year, and I'm thinking it might be time to quit riding. Why? Simply, it hurts. My hip joints hurt, my knees hurt, my back hurts. No, I'm not whining. I hate to give it up though, since I feel I haven't accomplished half of what I've wanted to, horse wise or otherwise. I almost feel like it would be admitting defeat. I won't sell my horses, and I've always just loved watching them graze in the pasture anyway. But how many of you reached a point where you felt it was time to hang up the bridle?

  • #2
    Just 38 but...

    Okay, so I can't quite sympathize. But friends of mine have said the hip replacement was AWESOME and if they'd known it was going to be this good they'd have done it waaaaay sooner. "As soon as I feel a twinge in the other one, it's getting replaced" said one friend. That friend has also found life in the saddle has gotten a lot easier since she as slavishly devoted herself to some Pilates Videos.

    I did sell two horses to retirement aged ladies this year. Recently, to a woman who is 75 !!! She was having a bit of trouble coming to grips with riding a smoother, perhaps less fancy, less athletic, horse. But I was impressed with how the horse felt after she had ridden it !! And everyone had a huge smile plastered on their face when they heard how old she was. She gave us a great boost, really !!

    So keep in mind, there are 'other' kinds of horses. Walkers, Paso Fino's, and just plain flat moving warmbloods (Woman above bought an AdalusianX.)

    What kind of riding are you doing ?? What are your horses like ?
    "Friend" me !



    • #3
      Try a Tennessee Walking Horse. Smooth and fun for trail riding.
      hunter/jumper ponies


      • #4
        Grandma quit riding at 84 because her 24 year old horse died and she didn't want to ride another.
        If he had been around longer, I expect she would have kept riding.
        It is not about age, but how you feel about it.

        If all is keeping you from riding is physical limitations, you can see if you want to put in the time and effort to make that better and if not, we really don't have to ride at all.
        How about just enjoying the horses in any one way you like.
        We don't need to ride them at all, really.


        • #5
          When I wake up every morning hurting! (Yepp, hit 25 and here I am...)


          • #6
            I'll be 51 this year, and I have no plans to stop riding until they pry the reins from my cold, dead hands!

            Knees, ankles, hips and back all sing arias to me on a daily basis, but I've found that switching to jointed stirrups has helped tremendously. I can now stay in the saddle for hours without paying for it too much, versus using hard irons where after an hour I was in agony.

            I also don't dismiss the use of aids that I shunned as a young'un. I have a saddle with Equisuede instead of slippery leather, I use half chaps when necessary, I wear cotton/lycra breeches with sueded knee patches instead of slick, polyester breeks, and wear riding tennis shoes instead of paddock boots.

            When I'm done riding I take a long, hot shower, pop an Aleve or two, and if needed, sleep on a heating pad. An adult beverage also helps me relax every so often, but if I drink I don't take the Aleve.

            It's all about priorities, and what you're willing to do to make it happen. If riding has become more painful than fun, you certainly have my understanding and sympathy if you want to just hang up your bridle.
            Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.


            • #7
              You asked:

              Older Riders: When do you know it's time to stop riding?

              Well. Harumph. Older riders are, for me, in the same category as 'middle aged people'...20 years older than I am. Which would this year, be defined as 77.

              I suppose it'll be time to stop riding a) when I have to attend my own funeral, or b) when it's just not enjoyable any more- whether from the aches and pains or some other presently unforeseen issue.

              Meanwhile, Advil, Blue Emu, MSM/Chondroiton/Glucosamine, jointed stirrups, and my exercise bike are my friends.


              • #8
                What Arabhorse2 said: that's exactly what I thought when I saw the title to this thread. When they pry the reins from my cold, dead fingers!

                I'll be 56 next week, and I only started riding at age 45. But I'll tell you, I hurt much more back then when I first started riding than I do now! When I started competing, two years ago, I started riding a lot more, like every day in show season if weather permitted. That seemed to make the difference in making the aches and pains go away. I'm not a perfect specimen: I'm overweight and have to wear glasses but I hardly ever hurt now...except if I take a fall which hasn't happened in a while *oops shouldn't a said that!

                I do Eventing at the BN level at local shows and do the low jumpers at the rated shows right now. I've got a great young horse who never gets tired off hauling my butt over fences.

                So...unless and until something changes radically...not thinking of giving up riding anytime soon. I feel like I just started!
                HorsePower! www.tcgequine.blogspot.com


                • #9
                  I'm 57. Last year I bought a 6yo from a man who is 92. He had only stopped riding a couple of years before when his paso fino dumped him! Last spring he bred a mare back to get a 3/4 sibling to my horse - the baby was a filly which is what he wanted - to continue the dam line. I just have to admire the guy!

                  Meanwhile, I have fibromyalgia, scoliosis, arthritis, now gout and am being treated for lyme disease. In other words, I'm a walking disaster area! I've got my now 7yo gelding at home with my donkeys - he's had a nice vacation, and pretty soon here I'm going to throw the saddle on him and at least start walking around. Haven't ridden in quite a while, but I know I'm stronger and feel better, especially mentally, when I'm riding.

                  So, my feeling is, ride as long as you want to. If you no longer feel like riding, just owning a horse is therapeutic. I've also heard that hip replacement can be completely liberating. And, if you don't go that route, or still don't feel like riding, if you've got a horse to learn to drive, that can be fun too. (I trained one of my donkeys to drive and it's a gas!)
                  "If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom."


                  • #10
                    I stopped probably when I hit 60. The horse I owned tested positive for allergies and/or could have had phototic headshake as well but it was no longer fun riding from April to October with his very frequent head shaking and pulling the reins out of my hands when I tried to take him hacking. Also, if the wind was blowing fairly hard, I had to ride him indoors, which is no fun in the summer. I also disliked riding when it's below freezing, which in western NY, happens quite frequently in December through March. It didn't leave me much time to enjoy riding this horse.

                    What was so sad was this horse was quite a packer, had wonderful attitude and was excellent to work with. I suppose I could has sold him, or donated him in hopes another area would have been better for him but I knew his original owners wanted him to go to a single home and not passed around from rider to rider. I didn't have to honor that but I did as I knew how I would feel if I were in their shoes. He originally came from southern NJ and I bought him in Dec and the allergies showed up the first spring. I probably did ride him for several yrs (5) but but the enjoyment just kept waining and I finally just quit. BTW, the Rochester area is known for a higher than average sinus problems in humans so I'm not surprised the horse had problems as well.

                    I also found that living alone on the farm and riding alone most of the time didn't help either as I found when I would take off several months in the winter, I tended to be rather nervous come spring. I really didn't want to try a boarding situation so I just stopped.

                    I also suppose I could have bought another horse but I really didn't want to do that. So horse and I are both retired. I still have him at home with a companion horse and I still competely enjoy taking care of the horses. Actually I tend to be a bit anal about their care and I don't think they mind one bit. I don't believe he cares whether he's ridden or not. I know he's not a terribly ambitious horse so I rather imagine he enjoys retirement as much as I do.

                    I can honestly say, when I go to the local horse trials or dressage shows, I enjoy watching others and cheer for them, but I don't miss riding at all. Maybe 48 yrs in the saddle was enough.

                    I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                    • #11
                      My aunt's father quit riding at 84, but only because he moved across the country and had been riding his neighbor's 17 hh horse (they wouldn't sell him). If you're hurting, you could try a different breed (TWH, paso, Iclandic) or maybe a different saddle or discipline. My knees won't handle jumping anymore but they do ok with dressage and trail riding. Or, try driving. It's a blast!
                      Crayola Posse - Pine Green
                      Whinnie Pine (June 4, 1977 - April 29, 2008)
                      Autumn Caper (April 27, 1989 - May 24, 2015)
                      Murphy (April 28, 1994 - May 5, 2017)


                      • #12
                        My addiction will probably follow me to the grave and beyond, I plan on riding my mare Kelly across the Rainbow Bridge. I'm 54 and I have lots of plans for the future like breeding my mare and continuing competing.

                        54, 55, etc is not old anymore. . . age is a state of mind, what would make you think like this? All of us have some aches and pains, but we don't let it stop us. Really, I hate to name names, but there are 2 BNT and riders who are 60 and 70 something. I saw one compete at Rolex this year.

                        Having said that, my husband showed a photo of me competing to some girls where he works (they're 30 something), one of them said "she looks younger than I thought" and the other one said "why does she do that, it seems kind of strenuous." Yeah, well it is strenuous, but I'm fitter than you and probably healthier and I do it because I like the challenge.

                        Please don't stop riding and suddenly become old at 55!!! Ride into old age with me and only stop when you get to the other side of the Rainbow bridge, then get off take a look around and get back on.
                        RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                        "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


                        • #13
                          I'm already achy at 42. But my role model is an 82 year old guy I know who still rides every day. Scares the living daylights out of his barnmates, as he needs help tightening the girth and getting on, then goes out and gallops cross country! His horse is a doll - totally takes care of him. He goes to dressage clinics and continues to take lessons, too - just won't give it up "til they pry the reins from his cold, dead hands" as a previous poster said! God bless him!


                          • #14
                            I am moving so I can ride and drive amongst like minded people.
                            I find when you get older, (56), I don't feel as comfortable as I once did to go for a hack in my woods and trails. Heck, I don't even like to walk alone in them, where I use to take a hike daily.
                            I guess some of that has to be because I am single too, and if I don't come home, well, no one might know for days or longer.
                            So, I am much more cautious now.
                            But, like I said I am moving so I will be amongst lots of other horse woman and men.
                            I hope to ride everyday! At least someone will see me if I fall.
                            save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                            • #15
                              More advice you probably don't need. . .

                              After I got off, I began to think, if you're in that much pain maybe you should consider getting tested for Lyme Disease and just tell your doctor what ails you. I would hate to be telling you to keep riding and there is something causing the pain like Lyme Disease. I just don't know anyone your age that even thinks about not riding, or seems to have enough discomfort that it may interfere with riding.

                              Keep us posted!!!
                              RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                              "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


                              • #16
                                I am mid 60's and just took up reining.
                                Smallish horses, dead broke and extremely well trained, interesting to do right and not as easy as it seems and the horses are super smooth, much more than gaited breeds.

                                Many good, smooth reiners move so gently and lightly that you don't even feel them, unlike so many gaited horses, that tend to be considerably more energetic and active, just not bouncy.
                                With reining horses, it is rocking chair gaits, rocking chair saddles, mousing along movement, even just trail riding with them and better than a rocking chair on the porch.

                                I do miss more active riding, but then, it can get tiresome also, when you have been there, done that already.


                                • #17
                                  Gosh, after having to take 22 years off from riding, now that I have it (and riding) back in my life, I hope I never have to give it up again. Late 40s here, been re-riding since September (low-level eventing).
                                  -Debbie / NH

                                  My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/


                                  • #18
                                    Older Riders: When do you know it's time to stop riding?

                                    I guess when it isn't fun or interesting or productive, or if you become fearful of falling or have a condition that would make it difficult for you to be safe.

                                    I've been riding with formal lessons since the age of eight, and I've competed in most disciplines. I was 16 when I had saved enough money to be able to have my own horse, a $25 - 3 yo from an auction that lived into her 20's. I was very fortunate to be able to have my horse(s) at home on our farm or a horse at school, (as long as I was paying the board for the horse at school and kept my grades up.) I've never had to board any of my horses.

                                    I was totally dedicated then, and still am today at 66. I have been very blessed to have really wonderful horses (read not always easy or without issues) who have taught me so very much. I learned early on how to fall, and there have been some pretty spectacular ones. I now just have one horse that I've had since he was 4, and he is now 10. He had a rough beginning physically and spent 5 months at a clinic and then we spent almost 2 years walking. Not just schlepping around, but working, free, medium walks, up and down hills, in the fields, ring, just to get him in condition and balanced. He was so unbalanced at one point, he would fall to his knees on a 6" grade. It was a very good time to go back to the basics with him, and now we are working well at second level.

                                    My little farm is right on a major highway,and I ride 6 days a week. I'm out there every day about the same time, and my neighbors can see me from the road when they drive by. This is the road that all the big loads use, the oversized loads some with 19 axles, most of them with parts of the windmills and lots of very large, very noisy farm equipment. My horse has become really used to everything BUT bicycles. If I ever fall off, hopefully someone will stop and make sure I'm okay. When I can, I go into the 300 acre field owned by a local farmer and walk and trot on a path up and down some gentle hills. I always wear a neon green t-shirt just in case.

                                    I love riding my horse. It gives me time to focus on him and our balance, and timing. I enjoy the time spent in this beautiful area. In the Winter we go south and work. It's lots more work than I do here, because I'm caring for other horses as well as mine, but I still love the work, the challenges, and am amazed that I'm still continuously learning. Having to be responsible for a horse and care for him (and others in the Winter),keeps me on my toes and keeps me focused, fit, and healthy. My hips and knees haven't given me any problems so far, but when I'm moving logs or beams to mow or trim around them, I do take a few Bayer before bed. Just like older horses, keeping busy and active has been the best medicine for me.

                                    I think it's great that you still have the horses with you. Just because you made the decision not to ride any more isn't a bad one, since you're not having fun and have aches that could potentially cause you real distress if you fall. You still can have a great time just being with your horse, grooming, taking care of him and giving him a good life. Good for you.


                                    • #19
                                      I'm 52 and just got a 4 yr. old last month. I did the math, and if all goes well, I figure there's at least 20 years of good fun ahead for us.


                                      • #20
                                        when I get too old to fall off..

                                        then I'll go back to just driving. As long as I can pull myself up in the tack, I'm riding. And honey, it's not the age, it's the miles.
                                        As my husband says, my true mileage is unknown.
                                        (as it should be.)