I class myself as a ‘returning rider’ having been bitten by the horse-mad bug when I was a young girl and giving it up for a while. Being a returning rider brings its own challenges, but the one type of rider I didn’t know existed until a little while ago, was ‘mature age rider’.
When I first heard that term, in my mind’s eye I saw a little grey-haired woman of a little more than a certain age, being hoisted into the saddle by a couple of helpers and taken for a very leisurely walk around an arena. She was someone who wouldn’t be galloping off into the sunset anytime soon.
How naïve I was!
Especially as I now class myself as a mature age rider…
However, while I may have the grey hair, I don’t need helpers to get me up on my horse or taking me for a quiet walk. And I now know many riders older than myself quite happily and readily gearing up their horse for a ride, trek or competition. It’s blown my previous image of mature age rider out of the water.
With age comes wisdom, so they say, but with it also comes a much-heightened awareness of self-protection. We know how much can go wrong and how much it can hurt when it does – we don’t bounce as well as we used to.
Not only are we aware how much accidents can hurt, but we are also acutely aware the impact that recovery can have on our lives outside of horses. Those with children to look after, the self-employed, even those employed but with minimal leave available, not to mention the cost of health care, makes us even more aware of the hazards of horse riding.
Who’s going to look after the children, the cat or the dog? What about my job, who’s going to do it for me? I have my own business; I can’t have time off! Not to mention who’s going to look after the horses…
Being acutely conscious of the risks of horse riding can be paralysing and, add in a large dose of overthinking, and it can lead to giving up something which generally brings much joy.
I’ve found myself in this position a few times, and it boiled down to me protecting myself as much as possible (without going overboard) or giving up. Safety gear and education are the two main areas I focus on – I wear a helmet (and I’ve also worn a body protector in the past), but I believe my best safety ‘device’ is education, for myself and my horse.
Education is not a quick fix solution, it’s an ongoing process, but I believe it is one of the best ways to help protect myself and my horse.
Oh, and I’m slowly learning to stop the overthinking!