Riding Horses When You're Over Fifty
Are you over fifty and still enjoying activities such as: bicycling, skating, hiking, skiing, jogging, dancing, rock climbing, or hang gliding? Then you would enjoy the sport of horseback riding. The world of horses holds the interests of many senior citizens, although it is largely overlooked as an activity for retirees. Did you know that there are participating Olympic Riders who are in their sixties? Ian Millar is a Canadian rider whose passion is horse jumping. He competed in his ninth consecutive equestrian games at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Ian is 65 years of age. Kyra Kyrklund, from Finland, is 61 and has participated in five Olympic Games, four World Equestrian Games, and six World Cup Equestrian Dressage Finals. Are these the only older people riding horses?
Well, in southeastern Massachusetts, where we have a thriving horse community, over half of the riders are over 50, and most of these are in their mid-sixties. These riders participate in every facet of horsemanship, from horse clubs, riding clinics, overnight trail rides, to costume making and saddle-bridle decoration. They also participate in equine expositions including horse shows, horse breed demonstrations, or equine educational seminars. Each of these venues requires knowledgable riders either willing to explain or to demonstrate good horsemanship skills.Credit: Yolo County, California
Here's how you can decide if riding is for you. Learning to ride a horse is similar to learning to ski or to ride a bike if you compare the skills involved. Each of these sports requires learning both the technique and the equipment in order to insure a safe and enjoyable experience. Also, every potential rider over 50 needs to accurately assess their degree of mobility and agility. The highly motivated, energetic individual will find the intense pace of competition riding easily equal to their passion for cutting edge excitement, once their riding skills are intact. Likewise, the nimble but more meditative environmentalist will enjoy the interaction of the horse-rider relationship with its opportunity for trail riding in local recreational parks or secluded natural habitats. Many senior riders in rural areas sign up for local Search and Rescue Posses. These riders help the Sheriff Department to find lost hikers, missing children, or even other lost animals. The photo is the author's brother, (in his mid-sixties) participating in the training program for the Yolo County Sheriff's posse.
There are riding and training facilities in nearly every agricultural or urban town. You can use the local listings, computer, or local livestock/feed store for inquiries into locations of horse farms. A recommended professional is best for learning technique and equipment basics. They may even have a horse owner willing to half-lease a reliable horse for you to begin to gain your mileage and balance in the saddle. Another great starting point is the local horse club where you can meet other horse enthusiasts eager to add you on to their events. So what are you waiting for? Let's saddle up and go!