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Are there Benefits for Seniors who Ride?
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Are there Benefits for Seniors who Ride?

Seniors -- people over 55 -- can certainly find advantages in riding horses. The benefits can be many, as long as you keep in mind some important considerations.

If you’re someone who loves horses -- you love the looks of them, their smell and the pastoral environments in which you might find them -- then you’ve got the foundation to potentially be a rider in later years. Of course, there’s more to it than the basic foundation. Knowing that horses are large and fairly unpredictable, you must consider your safety above all if you want to take up riding at a later age.

Say you’ve ridden in the past; you’ll be ahead of the game because you’ll already have a sense of what riding is like -- the work involved in saddling and grooming, and the feel of a horse beneath you, to name just a couple of experiences. If you’re new to riding and in your senior years, or if you haven’t ridden for some time, or even years, you'll want to think about some other things before starting up again, including:

  • The shape you’re in. Are you fairly physically fit? Do you engage in a regular exercise program for strength and flexibility? If you’re in pretty good physical shape, you may find the physical impact of riding to be a little less hard on your body --  and it can be hard, with muscle or possibly joint pain. And what about strength? Can you lift a heavy saddle to shoulder level or higher? Alternatively, you may be able to find people to help saddle your horse.
  • Your riding ability. You’ll want to have a trainer evaluate your experience with horses before you ever mount up. Advise the trainer of things like whether or not you’ve ridden recently or at all, or if you’ve had lessons in the past.
  • The horse you’ll ride. You’ll want to have a trainer match your ability and physical condition to a suitable horse. You may not want to get on that frisky young Arabian if you haven’t been on a horse in a while. A calm and possibly older horse may be just the ticket for you in the beginning.
  • Your risk-taking mentality and ability. You’ve got to give some thought to whether or not you’re physically able to take a fall off a horse. It might not happen, but chances are that it will occur at some point if you ride long enough. How are you going to respond after a fall -- do you think you’ll break some bones? Are you flexible and strong enough to recover quickly and stand up without injury? For many older people, falling off a horse is one big detriment to getting on in the first place. You can minimize the risks involved by always wearing a good riding helmet and maintaining a high level of fitness.

If you’re feeling good physically and have a solid comfort level around horses, you can make an educated decision on whether or not to proceed with actual riding.  There are plenty of health benefits to riding, as long as you’re able to safely do so. Some of the advantages include:

  • Relieving stress. The generally slow movements of a horse, the barn smells and the fresh air all contribute to relaxation.
  • Balance and Coordination. You’ll improve in both these areas as you use your own body parts to influence the horse’s movements.
  • Your brain gets a workout. The focus and concentration required in riding will keep your brain alert and functioning at optimum levels.
  • Your body gets a workout. You’ll actually burn calories while riding. In addition, the entire time you’re concentrating while riding your horse you likely won't be thinking about eating!
  • Connecting. If you’re able to ride the same horse each time, you’ll develop a deep connection with him as you build the trust between you. It’s a rewarding bond like no other.

It doesn’t hurt to take a few field trips to a local horse barn or farm to get a sense of what it’s like to be around horses -- even if you've spent time with them in the past -- and to talk to the trainers or others there. After doing so, you’ll be able to get a feel for whether or not you want to continue your senior adventure atop a horse. Trust your instincts, and remember to put your safety at the forefront of your mind -- whether in the saddle or out.

 

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  1. julian johansen
    julian johansen
    hey, just wanna add something abute safty bullshits, i'll do it as short as posipol..... you all know the safty rulls, so no need to say exempels. you allso all know they are maded becures we see horses as nurvois animals that easy freak out over anything.... so. i go strait to the point. so many have got a compleitlig missundestanding of horses. so lissing up.... i know i dont know everything abute horses, and wish to learn more myself. but what im goin to tell you here is all fagt and REAL.... horses can be trained to not freak out on anything at all that can or will happen around you and the horse. you can taik walk in the forest without it has to be riding, or at all have to hold the horse, but just walk side bye side as two friends. if the horse get scared of a bird that fly up or whatever, it may run of a bit and run a bit away, but it can be learned (notets i say learned instead of trained) to then riget away come back to you and seek comforth. its easy to get that kind of friendship, but taiks at least a year. all you have to do is this. put away your tools, all of them, bridle, saddel, whip, spurs, all of it. all you need is YOU and the horse, spent a lot of time with the horse in the field, in the riding pen, play games with it fx with a big ball, and just be its friend. if you ask (not demand) somthing from it and it rush away from you bugging, kiking in the air, its the horse way to say noooo! its not in my intrist, i don'y what to do that, then you turn around as to walk away sayin okay okay, we find on something ells to do then, and it may come write back to you... there you have showed undestanding to the horse and accepth that what you whanted to do with the horse just there is not of intrest of the horse. to have a true friendship with the horse (to be on the path of horses) you have to allow yourself to be the weak, let you be lead, you don't have to be the leader. but be equel with the horse. your just there, present, bien a friend, and nothing more. allow the horse to theath you things, not the oderway around. if the horse tricks you, let it, its just having fun with you, and you shuld see it as fun, never get angry on the horse for tricking you. thats truelig to be bonding with the horse. i hope as many as posopol will see and undestand this......... one last thing. horses minds is like a 6 years old boy/girl. so when around horses, go back in your life, be that littel 6 years old kid, dance, laugh, run around, funny moves, all of it. the horse will see you as one of them, and be your friend forever... just never use whips or spurs, do never use force, thats called in anoder word abuse. do never confuse abuse with disaplin, thise a sepirated essues.... to end with. here is a meassge from the horses to us, found bye a women (not me, im a 22 years old man) who had found to cuminicated with horses without tools We are a collective consciousness, connected yet individual by nature while on this earth plane, just as you are. Our state of well being is attached to source energy and we wish to teach you the same. You come to us and are drawn to us because you can feel our connection to source is strong and you long to share in the same. We do not struggle with the same issues as humans regarding the sense of lack of. We do not see any lack of anything. We only see wholeness, evolution, creativity and wellness. As we strive to experience, we have chosen to experience with man kind hoping to bring a sense of balance and strength. We would like you to understand nature to its fullness, to see how balance and going with the flow is what propels you forward without the unneeded pushing against you have done for so long. We ask that you become more patient with yourselves and in the doing of this you will find the connection to all living things. We test your honesty by challenging your knowingness. If it comes from the place of source we can hear you. If it does not, we rebel. We are not the only creatures supplying this venue for you. Others, many others, in fact everything you call animal is at this stage of the evolutionary process with you. We have all manifested this event together and a collective agreement from different perspectives none the less. There are no victims of circumstance only circumstance that create awareness and change. Struggle no more with each others way to find what is right and what is wrong, the best way is through the heart, always. There is no place for judgement in our world, we do not look at each other and condemn the horse who walks differently, who neighs differently or who eats differently. Our concern is for growth of spirit and strength in union that ignites our evolution of life. Discipline is a matter of perspective, always. Upon this earth we are more like children than adults. We look upon things inquisitively and through choice of what pleases us. We can say “No” but may not understand the consequences of that choice like an adult would, therefore clarity is what is needed in dangerous situations or when our perspective clashes with what is required at the given moment. We are much stronger than humans physically and can endure much more, however we share many common emotions and can feel your energy when unfocused or when your intent is not of the purest form. We will die for you if that will bring a learning and as such you have done the same. Do not confuse abuse with discipline, these are separate issues. We teach respect, you teach respect. We teach love, you teach love. We have come by choice and so have you. We both agreed to co-create where growth, freedom and understanding is the goal of both species. from the horses hearth... allways
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    1. MReynolds
      MReynolds
      Thanks for some good insights!
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    2. Cynthia
      Mr. Johansen, I think you are from Scandinavia, is that correct? Your response to Ms. Reynolds' article is excellent. I have an off-track thoroughbred (my first horse -- I am 60) and I spend most of my time, hand grazing him, walking about and talking with him, playing with him (yes, he loves to play sweet little tricks on me, such as picking things up and tossing them -- purely for fun). I only ride him twice a week, (gentlest tack, saddle especially made for him) soft bit, etc.); I love to just 'be' with him, and this appears to be what makes him happy. I would like to send you a few photographs, if you can send your e-mail address. What excites him? Doing little cavalletti exercises...he's always in good spirits during these exercises and feels proud of himself. Many young riders just tack up, ride, then untack and groom, putting their horses right back into the pasture. I feel it is very important to spend plenty of ground time bonding with your horse, especially after a ride, to show your care and affection for him. I always walk with my horse to the water trough after our time together, to encourage him to drink. He follows me, and likes me to lift the water in my hands first, before he drinks from the trough. Little things mean so much. Thank you so much for sharing all your thoughts with the community, and for the advice and mutual respect of horse and rider. Thanks, also, for the quote at the end of your comments. There is much wisdom and truth in this and it should be something that all riders/horse owners understand and feel. The horse knows your heart and your intentions -- they are truly spiritual beings. Blessings to you, and thank you.
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      1. julian johansen
        julian johansen
        hey, im from denmark, sadly to few here in denmark undestand the horses as we do. there one thing abute the bride and saddel i whant to tell, and most of all abute riding.... after just 10-15 min riding, the back on the horse where you sit goes num, with is like when your arm or leg is asleep, after a bit longer, it hurts. so when your on a long trip, make sure to get of its back, and walk in abute 5-10 min, galdlig more tell its back not has gone num anymore, you can allso try work with it to just follow you as it does on the field when your taiking a walk in the forest. abute the saddel. no matter how well its made, or how well it fits, it makes no defrind from the press on its back from the riders weight, in fagt, its better to ride without saddel, and abute bridles, its best to use a hackemore, its like a bridle without a bite. my mail is julianj@live.dk we can write there if you wanna learn more, and i can share you videos that can help you a lot, as you allready are well on the way to be.... on the path of horses!!! :D ;)
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        1. Cynthia
          Julian, You must have grown up with horses -- to be so wise at a young age. I am often torn between two beliefs: that it is not completely ethical to ride horses, yet if you ride lightly and with respect and consideration, and care for the horse very well, it can have a good life, as long as the horse has plenty of time with other horses in healthy pastures. Yet, I listen intently to my horse and I know when he is out of sorts and needs a quiet day, or when he is in a cheerful mood and happy to work. Training or lessons can interfere with such days, but I have a very good, considerate trainer who always knows when it is not a good day for the horse and will either stop after ten minutes or cancel the lesson. We are at a hunter-jumper facility, but the horses only work for 40 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week, normally. I do not compete, as I think it is stressful for horses. The horse is perfect as he is, without the approval of others or ribbons. Thank you for the very kind note. I will write to you at your e-mail address and send some photos/videos. I look forward to more conversations.
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