An old face in a hunt cap. An older horse to sit on. A bigger mounting block to get on. Knee brace and riding vest attire pulled on. Out to the riding ring we go, the older equestrian and the older horse.
The lesson begins with the posting trot and canter. There are many big long walks in between. The jumps and combinations are smaller but just as challenging. I can only make a half hour of riding time, can barely dismount, and it takes me forever to cool down.
For the half hour of riding, I feel like I am seventeen again. My bones no longer hurt and my body no longer deceives me. My mind is clear and relaxed. My mount is equally proud of himself. He walks out as if to say, “I still got it.” And he does. During our ride, I still got it too.
As I cool him down, I notice all the young people and the great energy they possess. They talk about showing, lessons and their future goals in the riding world. I remember being the same way myself. I want just one thing now for them – continuation of one of the greatest sports in the world.
Always continue to ride horses. Trail riding, barrel racing, hunters, jumpers, eventing, reining, endurance or any other discipline. Whether you are six, twenty-six or fifty-five mount up. Compete or don’t compete, just love what you do. And most importantly, spend time grooming, bonding and tacking up. Feed those carrots and apples and live in the moment.
It’s really quite remarkable, our sport. It can continue throughout our lives. I may not ride for the same reasons as my younger fellow riders, but we are all equestrians. We are blessed to share our lives with horses.