I didn’t get into horseback riding until I was 53. It’s been over five years now and what a journey it has been. I remember the many skeptical relatives and friends when I said I was planning on getting a horse. There were warnings, laughs, headshakes and looks of disbelief. What bothered me most were the voices that directly or indirectly indicated that I was pretty naïve to think that I could get a horse and take care of it, learn how to ride it and that it all would contribute to my happiness rather than to my agony. I also heard the inevitable “you are not getting any younger” remark.
I shrugged it all off and went for it. It has been one of the most wonderful things I ever did in my life. It wasn’t easy, but I cannot imagine my life now without the rides on my beautiful horse on the trails, in the woods, around lakes and along the river. I have a wonderful, reliable friend in my horse and if I regret anything, it is that I did not do this sooner. I had to accept that learning to ride and control a horse would take me much longer than it takes a young person, and that it takes a lot longer to recover from even small injuries, which we will inevitably get while engaging in this sport. However, riding is the best exercise I can imagine. It is not only fun, but the relationship with a horse is incredibly rewarding. I am not too old for this – on the contrary, I feel like it’s keeping me young.
I have also met many other people, mainly women, who are my age or older, who ride regularly and make great trail companions, and I am not the only one who started riding late in her life. Moreover, I have met people with severe disabilities, from multiple sclerosis to stiff legs who still ride and whose riding even works as therapy. My two favorite and inspiring encounters were a woman older than me who lived in a trailer with her horse that she takes all over the mountains and to the ocean. The other was a woman who must have been close to eighty years old riding her gaited horse as if she was glued to him. The two had been doing this for twenty years and I couldn’t have asked for a better role model since I cannot imagine ever giving up horseback riding. To all the nay-sayers who tried to discourage me, I say, “You have no idea what you are missing out on,” and to all those who have toyed with the idea of taking up horseback riding at an advanced age, I say, “Go for it. You won’t regret it.”