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When do you hang it up?

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  • When do you hang it up?

    This may have an element of pity-party, so I apologize in advance. I'm just struggling with what to do.

    Middle-aged, riding for 30+ years. Now have had multiple surgeries and lots of steel in my skeleton. Last surgery was after a minor fall- guess I'm just not bouncing like I used to.

    I have two small children at home and this last lay-up has been very stressful for DH, but he's supportive of my riding.

    I don't want to make an emotional decision, but I can't afford to get hurt again.

    I LOVE my horses that I have right now, though, and would be very sad to have to sell them. But two-legged family and my health come first.

    Any advice?

  • #2
    I don't think you necessarily have to hang it up altogether. What do you do with riding currently? Is there any way you could scale back to something with less falling risk? Or a discipline switch of some sort? And don't forget, even if you do decide to stop riding, there are still other ways to be involved with horses, from helping out at therapeutic riding centers to volunteering at local shows and pony club.

    And you don't necissarily have to sell your horses, you could figure out a possible rider/lease situation that would allow you to still interact with your horses, even if you can't ride them.
    I like mares. They remind me of myself: stubborn know-it-alls who only acknowledge you if you have food.
    Titania: 50% horse, 50% hippo
    Unforgetable: torn between jumping and nap time, bad speller

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    • #3
      I hung up my bridle a few years ago. Too much metal in my body, too much of a chance (even with my bomb proof horse) of a fall, and getting too expensive. I had an ideal situation where I could leave her at the barn she's been at ever since I owned her, and they would continue to use her for lessons. For me, it was time to stop, and I haven't looked back. There are ways to stay involved with horses if you want to, and there are also other activities you may find --- like I found training and showing my dogs. No one can make the decision for you, and remember, it's never written in stone --- you can always change your mind later.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks you two. I've already scaled back on what I do- I actually don't jump all that much anymore (since my last pregnancy). I've become more of a dressage convert and mix it up with hacking out. First surgery was my fault- young frisky horse and I didn't get off- until I was bucked off!! This time it was a complete fluke- not a bad fall but happened to land just the wrong way....

        I'm considering leasing over the winter and re-visiting in the spring, but I hate that the decision would then be hanging over me.

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        • #5
          I don't have any words of advice, since I am facing the same question. I am now three weeks post-op from emergency surgery to relieve pressure and swelling on my spinal cord. I was diagnosed with pneumonia last week and am really struggling to get back on my feet.

          This has been so difficult on the one child I still have living at home, not to mention my husband. Nobody is telling me to walk away. But I am really wondering this time if it might not be time to.
          Sheilah

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          • #6
            I hung it up two years ago. It was an extremely difficult thing to do despite the fact that I didn't have horse ownership to deal with. I think that the majority of life long riders seem to give it up in their late 50s or early 60s. Some few are luckier to go on beyond that--but they are lucky--it is not a matter of sheer determination.

            For me, the issue was not personal safety despite the artificial hip and hardware in both shoulders. Nor the pain from degenerating spine trouble (scoliosis, spodylolisthesis & stenosis). The real reason was that my riding was going downhill. And the fact that since most of my riding was for other people (schooling, rehabbing, backing etc.), I was starting to see the opportunities go to others who were younger and not having surgery every five minutes. I could probably go for a hack here and there, but I've ridden just about every day of my life for 50 years. I don't really need to go for a hack. What I was passionate about was training, and improving my riding, and that is just not going to happen anymore. Depressing, but there it is.
            "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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            • #7
              Why not get into driving? Or breed specific in hand show stuff? I guess you need to question if you're still that horse crazy child at heart, or if you've enjoyed them enough, and want to get in to some other activity now. I don't see it as riding or not, I see it as horse crazy need/want breathe/feel/live...or time to move on, which is completely fair.

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Horses are my "me time" thing. I work over 50 hours a week and am Mom to two young ones. DH also works long hours, but I'm so lucky he is a very involved Dad who has always supported my horse habit.

                The barn helps me keep my sanity.

                BUT. This last accident was such a fluke, I'm also a little worried my nerves will be shot. I had trouble after my last accident, but it was specific to that horse and not riding in general. This time, I'm worried I'm going to tense up the moment a horse perks its ears.

                I suppose I will get back in the saddle, as they say, when I'm fully recovered and take from there. In the meantime, though, I am looking at leasing and possibly selling if the right situation comes along.

                I thought about learning to drive... may consider that too down the road.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TBRedHead View Post
                  Why not get into driving? Or breed specific in hand show stuff? I guess you need to question if you're still that horse crazy child at heart, or if you've enjoyed them enough, and want to get in to some other activity now. I don't see it as riding or not, I see it as horse crazy need/want breathe/feel/live...or time to move on, which is completely fair.
                  Some bodies are just not even capable of any of those things any longer. Even leading, grooming, picking hooves, tacking up, mucking out, blanketing etc. etc. etc. can become too physically difficult or impossible for some people. For people who can do these things, sure, great, many make the change to breeding or just move on to another sport like dog training/showing. But there ARE people who are just as "horse crazy" as you described, who would love to do something with horses, but who are just not physically able to do so. It is EXREMELY depressing since they do not want to move on...

                  To not accept the possibility of this is to live in denial of the reality of aging. Everyone gets there eventually.
                  "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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                  • #10
                    I was taking hints that she was younger and not quite there yet But I know what you mean, I know several VERY old horse ladies, one would die riding if she had too (90 and still rounding up cattle! She has such a great horse...), one hung up her spurs (and gave me some of her favorite tack items, they are vey treasured as she is well known around my area), and the other has slowed down, but hops on every now and then. I've definentely watched the process of no longer being able to physically do horses, but like I said, I was assuming she was still young and at least able to do basic care.

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                    • #11
                      TBRH- Age is more than a number. Just like our horses, we only have so many rides in us. Some can be ridden into their 20s, some into their teens. It depends on a lot of things: genetics, conformation, wear and tear, injuries etc. Those very old people that you mention are the ones that I call "lucky." People of the same age who are on canes, walkers or wheelchairs may not have any less desire. For whatever reason, their bodies are only "pasture sound."
                      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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                      • #12
                        Before I returned to horse ownership/riding I was considering buying an in-hand showing pony - nothing super duper, just something I could look after (always loved grooming etc!) and take to shows now and again for the day out.

                        This was before my back suddenly decided to play fair and I was able to start riding again, instead I bought an ISH and one of those inflatable vest things - I know they get a bad write up in places, but so long as it stops me making sudden contact with something hard; in the event of my parting company with my horse; then I'm happy out!

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          I thought about getting a vest! I of course always wear a helmet. However, my surgeries have always been on extremities... not sure how to protect those!!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ser42 View Post
                            I thought about getting a vest! I of course always wear a helmet. However, my surgeries have always been on extremities... not sure how to protect those!!
                            Yeah I have a habit of landing on my butt! Which the "solid" body protector I was wearing wasn't much use for. So I invested in the inflatable one! Although that probably won't protect my derrière either!

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